J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
READ ANY GREAT BOOKS LATELY? [ ] Yes [ ] No
Years ago if I had written this article I would have titled it Christians Are Reader. My experiences now with some Christian, which include leaders and preachers, reveal a lack of reading. Talking to bookstore managers confirm that men aren’t buying books like they once did, and the books they are buying now are “fluff and puff”—shallow content. The good news is that women are buying more books, thus the rapid increase in the publishing of books designed for ladies.
Men aren’t reading because they don’t have time, as some claim. They have time but they spend it on computer websites, IPad, cell phones, social media, video games, watching TV, etc. Homes which once had bookcases filled with books that were read, now are filled with pictures, plaques with sayings, and a few unread classics; even Bibles.
I confess that I am writing this article with a bias. I am a readaholic! When I am asked, which I often am, what’s the greatest thing you learned during all your education? I answer quickly, “The greatest thing I learned in school was in the first and second grades. I learned how to read.” Reading opened up the whole world to me, from A to Z. It created an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I average reading a couple of books each week on a variety of subjects, obviously, the Bible is always first on my daily reading list.
Some books, such as novels, I read simply for pleasure, others I read take me into academics subjects. Some cause me to examine my politics and cultural involvement. Some create a spirit of debate as I doubt and challenge content. I mark in books and take notes. I use quotes and illustrations from books I read. Books of humor help me to loosen up with laughter. Books on Bible subjects challenge my exegetical skills as I search to see if “those things are true.”
A lack of desire to read as well as a lack of reading skills is showing up more and more in Bible classes and public assemblies. Some children have a reluctance to attend Bible classes because of a fear of being asked to read. Men decline to read Scriptures because of poor reading skills. Many ties those who read in public mispronounce simple words, mumble, read too rapidly, etc.
The literacy level continues to drop in our country and is evidenced in congregations. In a post by Reading By Phonics.com, under the title Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Can’t Read: The Not-So-Shocking Reading and Literacy Statistics, the following results were given:
Did you know that 67 % of all grade 4 students in
The US cannot read at a proficient level? According
To the National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP), 34 % cannot achieve the lowest basic level
Of reading skills. Unfortunately, it’s not just the
Americans that have reading problems—this is really
A global issue, at least in all major English speaking countries:
*43% of Canadians are considered semi-illiterate
*42% of students in the UK leave school without
achieving a basic level of functional English
*33% of year 5 students in Australia do not meet the
benchmark literacy skills
Since the Bible is a document to be read, it is obvious that a person must know how to read in order to know, learn and practice what God has commanded. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth” (John 8:32). Want to hear something that is surprising? It is amazing how many Christians, even leaders and preachers, who have not read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation.
The Bible emphasizes the reading of Scripture:
1. 1 Timothy 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to READING, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
2. John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
3. Acts 8:30, So Philip ran to him, and heard him READING the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are READING?”
4. 2 Timothy 4:13, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the BOOKS, especially the parchment.”
5. Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he who READS and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep those things which are WRITTEN in it; for the time is at hand.”
6. Ephesians 3:3, 4, “how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which when you READ, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).”
7. 1 Peter 1:10, 11, “of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ Who was in them…”.
8. Acts 13:15, “And after the reading of the Law and Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, ‘Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on’”.
9. 1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be READ to all the holy brethren.”
10. Matthew 19:4, And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not READ that He who made them at the beginning, ”made them male and female”’”?
There is no question nor doubt that the Bible ought to be the number one priority on our reading list. In the early years of our nation, when school was conducted in church buildings, the Bible was the major textbook for learning to read and write. In time the function was turned over to the government, which now makes it criminal to read or pray in public schools.
We need to start a revival of reading in the church. It needs to start with the leaders. Since the Bible places an emphasis on reading, why can’t we teach our youth, and older members, how to read? The sequence is simple: First, we learn to read and second we read to learn.
What we are reading shows up in our lives. Emerson wrote, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” Jim Rohn was right when he said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” And Margaret Fuller was on target when she said, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” “It is what you read when you don’t have to,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Think about these words of Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books, one of them is not reading them.”
I encourage you to take a few minutes and browse in my book stores listed on this site. You will find numerous subjects that will edify, educate, and contribute to your growth in Christ.