The importance of reading solid books, especially, Christian Biography


The Scottish-born American industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), once said, “Man’s reading program should be as carefully planned as his daily diet – for that is food without which he cannot grow mentally.” The Christian is commanded by God to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Matthew 22:37).

In this context, let us consider our minds and how it is peculiarly offensive to neglect using them in the service of Christ.  The Christian who is constantly aiming for his spiritual growth to be both linear and deeper, will not only saturate himself principally in the ONLY perfect book, the Bible, but will also not disparage the reading of great books written by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  His reading diet will include solid Christian titles through plundering the Christians for all of their gold (i.e., by reading books that are: theological, doctrinal, historical, biographical and practical), as well as non-Christian titles through plundering the Egyptians for all of their gold (i.e., by reading books that are: ethical, fictional, political, poetical, historical, biographical, and technical).

In fact, Ephesians 4:11 seems to imply that Christian biography might just be the most spiritually-helpful genre for God’s people of all non-Biblical books! Why?  Because God has given “gifts” to His church — men who “equip His saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until…” (Ephesians 4:12-13a). These “gifts” were not only for their own age, but are for ours as well. They were not only ministerial gifts from Christ for those who would hear them, but also for those who would only be able to read them!

Albert N. Martin has rightly said, “The Christian who providentially has access to Christ’s gifts to His church … and does not use them, is guilty of arrogant, prideful presumption, believing that he does not need these gifts for his spiritual maturation, and … he’ll end up crippled with … spiritual immaturity!” Do not forget the words of our Lord, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required…” (Luke 12:48b).

So, assuming you are already faithful in the study of God’s Word, why not supplement that today by picking up a solid book to read — especially a biography of some great believer from yesteryear — and learn more about God by seeing how He worked in the life of that child of God. The following quote from the early nineteenth-century missionary to India and Persia, Henry Martyn, underscores my point:  “Blessed be the memory of that holy man David Brainerd [he was referring to the classic missionary biography of his life by Jonathan Edwards]! I feel happy that I shall have his book with me in India and thus enjoy, in a manner, the benefit of his company.”

But perhaps the unforgettable words of the British Puritan, Thomas Brooks, said it best, “Books may preach where the author cannot, when the author may not, when the author dares not, yea, and (which is more), when the author is not.”

Jerry Marcellino is pastor of Audubon Drive Bible Church in Laurel. He can be reached by e-mail at

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published this page in Blogs - Pastor Jerry 2011-09-30 22:09:00 -0500