I try to maintain a 90/10 ratio of reading the Bible and reading other Christian authored books. I’ve learned from experience that my greatest source of divine guidance is without question, the Holy Scriptures. It’s not that I don’t appreciate and value Biblical insight authored by other Christians who are more knowledgeable than myself, I do, but for me, nothing compares to the Holy Bible. If you read a lot more books than I do that’s great, this is the ratio that I find works for me.
I have read a large number of Christian authored books over the years and I still manage to read about five to ten or so a year. I know, five to ten Christian authored books! Wow. That’s hardly worth mentioning is it?
There is something personal that happens when you consistently study the Scriptures. You get in tune with the author. And in spite of all that you may hear to the contrary, this reality is and always has been, the objective of the Holy Scriptures. And there are no shortcuts, yet so many seem to think that there is a faster route, an inside track so to speak, that will usher you into a process where if you do A, B, and C, D will almost automatically always result.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Every once in a while I run into, or am made aware of, some individual, who supposedly has obtained some “divine insight” into the Bible and when I review some of their material, it provides me with an overview of their particular “secret” or insight that they have discovered. Usually, when someone says that they have “discovered” a Biblical secret that everyone else, supposedly has missed, you’re looking at strong potential of approaching a rabbit hole. And what is a rabbit hole, that’s where some particular theme or topic within the Bible, such as divine healing as an example, is expounded upon and where the perceived “discovery” or “secret” is supposedly validated by scriptures which reinforce the particular perspective the author wants you to see, versus allowing the totality of scripture, utilized within contextual and hermeneutical guidelines, to determine the particular Biblical perspective. And trust me, these two approaches are seldom, if ever, one and the same. The initial approach leads you into a rabbit hole, the latter approach, into sound doctrine.
Consequently, I’ve also learned, from experience, to utilize some of what I call, common sense deduction, about the author and the material that I am reading, or expose myself to.
Take the time to check out the individuals credentials. Just because they say they have a doctorate, doesn’t, in and of itself mean that they actually do. Understanding the training that they have undergone can accent their credibility. Verify their credentials by ascertaining if their educational preparation has been obtained from an accredited educational institution. Individuals who have obtained their education at a university that is known for maintaining orthodox Christian values normally produces Christians who advocate maintaining orthodox Christian values, Biola University being a case in point. Self taught authors with little professional knowledge in their chosen area of “discovery”, usually have a much lower level of credibility. It should be noted that unaccredited or uncertified educational institutions, sometimes provide “Religious” degrees, which are normally issued for the purpose of personal growth and advancement in Christian Ministry and not for advancement in secular employment or education, Chesapeake Bible College being a case in point. Just because someone puts Dr. in front of their name on the books they write, does not guarantee that they do have a recognized doctorate degree. “A More Excellent Way” by Dr. Henry W Wright is a case in point. And, just in case you’re wondering, here is an excellent review of “A More Excellent Way” that highlights the kind of misinformation and biblical misquotes that is commonly provided by individuals who lack qualified academic expertise, in particular fields of study (medicine and theology) that they purport to have.
Take the time to check out the history of the individual who authored the book or heads the organization you are looking at, what organizations and church affiliations they may be associated with. This can usually provide you with a basic understanding of their theology and their belief tenets. Also, take the time to do a search of the author’s positive and negative criticisms that can be validated. If you encounter a substantial amount of negative criticism, take the time to validate as to whether the criticism is justified and also consider the credibility of those who are providing the negative criticism if possible.
There are a number of “Christian” authors that have developed a substantial following and a very lucrative income from advocating their particular “discovery” or “secret”. The topic of “Divine Healing” is particularly prone to deceptive teachings. Be aware of this reality and exercise your Christian responsibility to discern as to whether the precepts they advocate are in fact Biblical via sound Biblical Exegesis (the critical explanation or interpretation of a text). That means you would need to actually check out their scripture references with regard to context, exegesis and accuracy. The sad part about the rampant deception that is associated with the Divine Healing movements is that too many Christians can be easily deceived due to their inadequate knowledge of Holy Scripture. When you encounter someone who is outside of what I would call “Mainstream Orthodox Christianity”, bear in mind that they are outside of mainstream orthodox christianity for a reason and in the vast majority of cases you will find that their “discovery” or “secret” has been investigated and found wanting. Don’t just accept everything that you see on someone’s website or read in a book at face value.
Sound doctrine is important, vitally important.
Titus 1:9 NIV “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!