Why You Should Read Christian Books You Can’t Understand

If you were to walk into my office and begin scanning my book shelves, you would come across books by guys like Jerry Bridges, Francis Chan, John MacArthur, and C.J. Mahaney.  I love these guys because they do a great job of writing for the “every man”, meaning they draw out the truths of the Bible in a way that almost any Christian can understand and benefit from.  Books by these guys are the ones I give away most often because I don’t have to worry about whether or not the person I’m giving it to can “hang” with the author.  Keep looking, though, and you’ll discover books by the likes of Jonathan Edwards, D.A. Carson, B.B. Warfield, and John Piper.  These guys, as you may know, are loftier in their writing, meaning that they can be at least somewhat difficult to wrap your mind around.

Now let me be up-front with you.  Seeing books by the second category of writers on my shelf may cause you to think of me more highly than you ought.  Just because those books are on my shelf, does not mean that I have mastered their content and am now waiting for something worthy to challenge my intellect.  Actually, when I read John Piper’s Future Grace in college I only read two pages of it each night because my mind couldn’t take the mental aerobics needed for three.  And when I read On the Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards in seminary, I found myself having to read paragraphs over and over again just to gain an inkling of what he was saying.

So why go through all the mental torture of reading guys like these?  Wouldn’t I gain much more knowledge of God and the Bible if I just stuck to the authors that bring things down to my level?  That can be argued, but I believe there is a knowledge that I gain in greater degree when I read the loftier stuff.  What is that knowledge?  It’s the knowledge that I don’t know God as well as I think I do.  For a guy who grew up in church and has been in ministry for the last twelve years, I need to be reminded that I haven’t exhausted the character and works of my King.  I need someone to help me stretch my mind to its maximum capacity and then leave me with the realization that God is still infinitely more than that.  This knowledge both humbles me and motivates me to know God more.  For this knowledge, perhaps it’s time for you to rethink why you pass on the loftier stuff.


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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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