Posted On March 17, 2020

Sharp Eyes, Soft Hearts, and Sanctified Minds: Evaluating Christian Books

by | Mar 17, 2020 | Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

I review books – a lot of books. Some people have expressed an interest in how I evaluate them. A few specific criteria govern the way I evaluate the overall effectiveness of Christian books, in particular.

First and most important, is the book biblical? That is, does the content reflect the teaching of the infallible, authoritative, inerrant Word of God? The label “Christian” does not automatically mean that a given book is a faithful representation of orthodoxy. Does it accurately unpack doctrines that are in step with the Reformed faith and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ? Any deviation from the truth results in a sharp critique and swift relegation to the “heresy shelf.” Tragically, my heresy shelf has steadily grown over the years.

Second, is the writing clear and compelling? Does the book address essential questions? And does it offer answers that genuinely help readers? Does it posit suggestions that encourage their Christian growth? Is the book coherent, or does it violate the laws of logic? Is the writing organized and systematic? Tragically, logic and a systematic approach to theology are viewed with suspicion and even disdain in some Christian circles. The very act of repudiating the laws of logic that God has established is a foolish act and is, by definition, illogical!

Third, does the book impact lives and promote progressive sanctification? Many Christian books (or books that are at least categorized as “Christian”) offer little in the area of practical help. Instead of helping readers become conformed to the image of Christ, they foster pride and build upon on edifice of shifting sand. A worthy Christian book should alert readers to the problem of sin and reveal the remedy, which is found exclusively in Jesus Christ.

A good Christian book should guide the reader to the Celestial City. It should lead them in a Godward direction and inspire them to live hopeful lives and holy lives.

Finally, does the book magnify the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is the gospel at the heart of the book, or is it a mere tack on? Is the gospel the primary fuel that drives the arguments in the book, or is the gospel more like “fumes” that emerge from the tailpipe of worldliness or pragmatism? Such an approach may be appealing in the short run, but will lead readers to a path of destruction.

These are only a few of the special areas of concern that I consider when I place a Christian book under the microscope. Such a pursuit involves having a sharp eye, a soft heart, and a sanctified mind. Having a sharp eye involves God-centered discipline to read everything through the lens of a Christian worldview. A sharp eye will not only pinpoint doctrinal error; it will pay tribute to doctrinal purity. A soft heart avoids the extremes of a hyper-critical spirit and a pietistic free-for-all. And a sanctified mind requires complete submission to Scripture and surrender to the Spirit of God. This approach is undergirded by a commitment to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2).

May the Lord grant much discernment as you dig deeper and grow stronger in the Christian faith. May you echo the prayer of Solomon, who cried out to God, “So give your servant a receptive heart to judge your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9, CSB).

Related Posts

Weekly Roundup 6/27/2022-7/1/2022

Weekly Roundup 6/27/2022-7/1/2022

This is our weekly roundup of posts for 6/27/2022-7/1/2022. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts. Monday...

God Save the King

God Save the King

Join Dave as he continues his series through Psalms looking at Psalm 3 and God save the King.

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

Prayer: A Source of Living Water and Strength for Desert Wanderers

We know we need to pray. We also know the Scripture commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). After all, the forces of evil will do everything in their power to stop God’s people from praying. Even though we know all that (or should know that), we often...

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

Testing and Temptation in Scripture

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “Is temptation sin?” What You'll Hear on this Episode Testing and Temptation in the Old and New Testament Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to the Servants of Grace Podcast via iTunes,...

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

Christ’s Intercession on Our Behalf

On today’s For Life and Godliness, Drew considers the intercession of Christ and its importance of it in the Christian life. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to Life and Godliness via iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. If you like what you’ve...

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

Christian Friendship and Doing Life With One Another

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave considers the nature and purpose of Christian friendship and why real Christian friends tell each other hard biblical truths, comfort one another in love with Scripture, and do life with one another through every stage of...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share33
Tweet
Email
Reddit
Share