Sunday, July 19, 2009

Confessions Of A Bookworm Part 2

I was looking at my bookshelf this morning and mused, "My progress in life can be seen in the books on my shelf."
First, there's the college years. Those years where I began to first collect books. I still have some of my old textbooks and I still refer to them from time to time. After all, who can ignore men like Tasker, Mounce, A.T. Robinson, and Baxter. Books from my Christian and Missionary Alliance days authored by the likes of A.B. Simpson, A. W. Tozer, T.J. McCrossen, and one of my most loved professors, Don Kenyon.

Then there were the years of great preachers that I embraced. The Metropolitan Tabernacle Series by C.H. Spurgeon. Nobody could preach like Spurgeon and he became one of my favorites. But then there was a short span in the 60's and early 70's where I explored the new Charismatic movement. I still have some of those books, but threw away most of them. They were like drinking froth on a carbonated drink. Lots of bubbles and popping and noise, but little of substance.

Expository Preaching caught my eye again and I gathered books by Chuck Swindoll. I must have almost all of his booklets he gave out on his radio program. I loved the guy. He could make scriptures talk and walk. His grace filled books laid a firm foundation that has kept me steady all these years through many hard trials, especially in those years recovering from divorce.

Oh yes, I have books dealing with divorce too. But back then, there wasn't much so they were of little help. It was scripture and great books that brought me through the hard years of rebuilding. Those rebuilding years can be seen by all the books and sermons I gathered from the pens of Ron Ritchie and Ray Stedman in those Body Life years of the late 70's and and 80's.

As my theological vision widened so did my library. I continued to collect books from all sides of the theological spectrum. I went from Pre-Tribulationism to Post-Tribulationism to A-Millenarianism to Pan-Millenarianism. don't know what Pan-Millenarianism is? That means I just leave it to God to decide how he comes and it will all PAN out.

Then I got rocked theologically. Actually, I went into a spiritual desert. For several years, I felt a great dryness. I picked up a series of books by Phyllis Tickle called the Divine Hours and became intrigued with praying liturgical prayers. Then my pastor recommended in one of his books a book by Scott McKnight. It was called the Jesus Prayer. That led me to many other books, mostly Catholic. For the first time in my life, I studied books by Catholic authors of all types. A little Catholic bookstore owner in Roseville, California introduced me to books by Scott Hahn, then Mike Aquilina and many other modern day authors as well as early Christian authors. I found myself agreeing with Cardinal Henry Newmann that the deeper you go in history, the more you cease to become Protestant.

I soon learned Catholics speak an entirely different language than Protestants. I knew for me to understand them correctly, I'd better learn to study what they mean rather than what they say on the surface. Many Catholic books use terms we are familiar with but mean something totally different than what we think they are saying. I'll go into that more in another blog entry. Suffice it to say, I discovered they have a lot more in common with Protestants than you think. They also have some dead bones that need eliminating in my opinion. But that is not for this article.

I'll leave you with my spiritual journey in books. I hope this isn't boring to you. It was interesting to me to see that I could chart my spiritual journey by just looking at my library. That's it for now. I hope you stick with me to the end.

See you in Part 3. Maybe next week.


  1. Hey Richard, I didn't find this "spiritual journey" in books boring at all! I have been on such a journey for 29 years myself. The road may have been a little different, but the principles the same. The books we buy over a given period of time reflects questions, issues, problems, etc. that we are dealing with at the time. Good post. wb

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  3. Thanks Warren. It's amazing how my life has progressed over the years by just looking at my library. And then all of a sudden you hear something by one of those authors that influenced you years ago and you stop dead in your tracks and have to ask the question whether or not you've strayed from the truth or gone deeper. Chuck Swindoll did that for me yesterday. I think I'll pick up one of those old books to reflect on why what he said provided such a strong foundation for me.