Acceptable books in my library

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gene_mingo

Puritan Board Junior
What is your opinion of owning and reading books that are considered written by heretics?

After listening to Harold Camping on the radio make outrageous claims on the radio, I sent away for several of his books. I was interested on how he could justify his claims biblically. I did not pay for the books, although I don't know if that makes a difference.

Also books like the Book of Mormon.

I understand that since we have the internet it is very easy to find other peoples opinion of some of these books, but sometimes I need to read them myself to try to understand the problems with them.

When I first started learning about the protestant reformation I purchased several books on protestant theology. Well I ended up with some really bizarre books. In one of the books the author argued that we cant use the bible for modern theology because of its errors.

Is it wise to keep these books in my library? What is your opinion?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I always keep such books. In fact, often I go out of my way to buy them. It is very effective when teaching to show the error of such in their own words. I have done this with Spong. I also bought about 6 books by Lahaye, Hagee and others for a class I did on the End Times a few years ago.
 

gwine

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't know if you have to own all the books but I think it is a good idea to at least read many of them, if only to understand their position better and be ready to respond. But, if you can get them really cheap (or free), then go for it.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Just make sure you label the spine "heretical" in case someone inspects your library.

On a serious note, I'm more likely to buy a book used if I have issues with the person who wrote it.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think you have to honestly judge yourself. Are you a person who is easily influenced by everything you read? Then stick with the reliable.
Also, what is dominating your reading: trash for reference or solid stuff for nourishment? There has to be a balance there, with the scale tipped strongly towards profitable.
Now people you disagree with are often profitable; stimulating, etc.
 

faydawg67117

Puritan Board Freshman
A few years ago, I received a bible from the jehovah's witnesses and a book on revelation. I never read the revelation book. But whenever I came across a scripture verse that I thought disproved JW theology I looked it up in their bible to see what it said. So, I just used it for reference purposes. I would definitely stay away from using heretical books for gaining wisdom though.:2cents:

[Edited on 3-15-2006 by faydawg67117]
 

MeanieCalvinist

Puritan Board Freshman
A couple of thoughts on the subject:

1. I believe that the Reformed goal is, or should be to replace all heretical books with sound books.

2. Once you build a large enough library you will not have room for the heretical books (question answered).

My wife I witness to the Mormons and JW's when they come to the door. We have been working with one couple JW's for a few years now. They have no answers to "Reformed Theology/Doctrines of Grace". I love sharing with them the full counsel of God it truely makes them think.

From personal experience... I have not found using their owns works to refute them to be of nearly as much value as preaching the truth in love.

My answer to the question; replace heresy with truth! :scholar:

In Christ,

MeanieCalvinist

My :2cents: :sing:

[Edited on 3-15-2006 by MeanieCalvinist]
 

Scot

Puritan Board Sophomore
After listening to Harold Camping on the radio make outrageous claims on the radio, I sent away for several of his books. I was interested on how he could justify his claims biblically. I did not pay for the books, although I don't know if that makes a difference.

Some of his older stuff is actually quite good and biblically sound. I read an article on www.familyradioiswrong.com that uses his old material to refute his new goofy ideas.

[Edited on 3-16-2006 by Scot]
 

rmwilliamsjr

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it is more complex than just owning the book.

i am conscious of reading to understand involves some level of "willing suspension of disbelief". if my filters against folly are all operational and in place, i simply don't understand, nor can i get the author's views. reading is a dialogue with the author, and in some way giving him/her the advantage so that you can really hear what they are saying rather than jump right in with your objections before you carefully listen.

i can't always do this, for instance, with Spong i get irritated and give up reading. i really can't seem to have a polite discussion while reading him. the metaphor that i am there to mine his writings for ammo to criticize him doesn't really interest me. reading is too much of a dialogue.

when i'm done reading, done studying then i review the book and up comes the detectors and analysis. but during the actual reading, i think that being hyper critical stops any real learning that i can do.

so that leaves me open to criticisms that i am unduely influenced by people that are wrong. how do i know they are wrong until i can understand them? how can i understand them without some level of sympathy and "walking in their shoes" attitude? isn't the essential element of understanding to understand correctly and well? isn't the purpose of a dialogue first to listen?

just a few thoughts, your question is certainly worth asking. thanks for doing so.
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
Insofar as one's library reflects one's beliefs, one may want to carefully organize it to make it clear that certain books are for "research" only.

Ideally, we'd read all books with an open mind but we should be testing all as the Bereans did.

If you can't keep straight the good books from the bad ones, don't get or read any bad ones.

I asked a question in another thread re: an author who I know going in is heretical. I was considering (and still may) read his book because it's popular and people may spout his "arguments" against the Bible. I don't believe, however, that it's mandatory to read the primary work, which is how some people argue against you when you haven't read it.
 

srhoades

Puritan Board Freshman
I desperately wanted to read James White's The Potters Freedom, so in order to be fair I bought an read (mostly and with great distress) Chosen but Free by Norman Geisler.
Unfortunately not every topic is presented this way in which a writer makes an argument and another writer submits his rebuttal. Therefore in order to understand the other position you may have to educate yourself into what exactly they are teaching.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by py3ak
I think you have to honestly judge yourself. Are you a person who is easily influenced by everything you read? Then stick with the reliable.
Also, what is dominating your reading: trash for reference or solid stuff for nourishment? There has to be a balance there, with the scale tipped strongly towards profitable.
Now people you disagree with are often profitable; stimulating, etc.

This is a good point.

Also, if you're going to read books from even questionable authors, you need to be well grounded in Scripture and the Reformed faith, otherwise you may not be able to spot the error. Consider the discussion about Doug Wilson on Justification. Would you have been able to spot the problems that Fred and Kevin spotted?
 
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