“Not wishing that any should perish” in 2 Peter 3:9

2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Continue reading ““Not wishing that any should perish” in 2 Peter 3:9”

Meaningful Song and Singing with Meaning

In a previous essay, we looked at some Colossians 3:16 and some of its implications. One of those implications is that Christians in corporate worship should mean what they sing, and therefore, need to sing songs with meaning. This implication arises out from two aspects of the text, first, that we are to teach and admonish one another, and second, that we are to sing in our hearts. Continue reading “Meaningful Song and Singing with Meaning”

Does God Care What Kind of Music I Like?

This question was posed to Ken Myers at the Edwards Institute 2011 Conference on Apologetics and the Arts. It is the subject of his fourth and last lecture, all of which can be listened to and downloaded here. Myers poses 16 further questions that need to be asked in order to answer the original question. I encourage any who listen to music to go through and ask themselves these questions (it will be helpful to listen to his lectures given at the conference first): Continue reading “Does God Care What Kind of Music I Like?”

Who is the Thief in John 10:10?

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:7-10

These few verses appear in the midst of Jesus’ good shepherd teaching. This section is very rich and touches on topics that could fill entire books, so I will limit my comments on these few verses and try to answer just one question: who is the thief in verse 10? Continue reading “Who is the Thief in John 10:10?”

Let the Reader Understand, Part 2

In my previous post, I outlined the rules for analytical reading of expository literature that Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren give in their book, “How to Read a Book.” In this post, I will outline the rules that they give for analytical reading of imaginative literature. Imaginative literature encompasses some of “easiest” (e.g. novels) and “hardest” (e.g. epic poems) literature to read. I put those descriptors in quotes because the genres assumed “easy” are often harder than they appear, and the ones assumed “hard” are often easier than they appear. Without further ado, here are the rules:

How not to read imaginative literature.

Rule 1: Know the difference between expository and imaginative literature. Expository try to convey knowledge about experiences that the reader has had or could have, imaginative books try to communicate an experience itself.

Rule 2: Don’t try to resist the effect that a work of imaginative literature has on you.

Rule 3: Don’t look for terms, propositions, and arguments in imaginative literature.

Rule 4: Don’t criticize fiction by the standards of truth and consistency that properly apply to communication of knowledge.

How to read imaginative literature.

Structural rules

Rule 1: Classify a work of imaginative literature according to its kind (e.g. lyric, novel, poem, ballad, play, etc.)

Rule 2: Grasp the unity of the whole book, the unity of a story is always in its plot.

Rule 3: Discover how the unity of the whole is constructed out of all its parts; identify the details of characterization and incident.

 Interpretive Rules

Rule 4: Come to terms with how the author uses each element of the book to tell his story.

Rule 5: Be at home in the authors imaginary world; know it as if you were an observer on the scene; become a member of its population.

Rule 6: Follow the characters through their adventures being sensitive to the heartbeat of the narrative as if you had your finger on its pulse.

 Critical Rules

Rule 7: Don’t criticize imaginative writing until you fully appreciate what the author has tried to make you experience.

Rule 8: Don’t question the world the author creates.

Rule 9: When criticizing a work of imaginative literature the chief concern is beauty, not truth. The two are unquestionably linked, but must still be distinguished.

These aforestated rules apply most directly to the reading of novels and plays, yet have applications for other kinds of imaginative literature. To help the reader further, here are some specific applications of these rules to two different genres of imaginative literature:

 How to Read a Story

Rule 1: Read it quickly and with total immersion.

Rule 2: Become acquainted with its characters and incidents.

Rule 3: Determine which characters and incidents are important.

Rule 4: Finish reading the story.

Rule 5: When criticizing a story, be careful to distinguish books that satisfy your own particular needs (e.g. ones that simply have a character that you can relate to) from those that satisfy the deep unconscious needs of almost everyone.

How to Read a Poem

Rule 1: Read the poem through without stopping, whether you think you understand it or not.

Rule 2: Read the poem through again out loud.

Rule 3: Ask questions of the poem. For example, discover the key words and ask why they stand out, is it because of the rhyme scheme? The meter? Their juxtaposition with other words? Their repetition? Their scarcity? Etc.

Rule 4: Don’t doubt your ability to read and understand the poem, almost everyone can read any poem, if he will go to work on it.


Let the Reader Understand, Part 1

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

– Francis Bacon

Reading is perhaps one of the most significant activities a human can do. The capacities for language, rationality, and imagination are some of the characteristics that set mankind apart from other animals, and reading is one of the best way to cultivate those characteristics. It is even more important for Christians, because we believe that God wrote a book, thereby endowing the activities of reading and writing with a certain dignity and seriousness, and placing any who read that book under an obligation to understand it correctly. Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren have written a great book entitled, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. In it they give 15 rules for analytical reading of Expository books to help readers answer the four basic questions that all demanding readers must ask. Expository books are books written to communicate knowledge primarily in a propositional way; these rules do not apply directly to imaginative literature, however there are some equivalent rules for that genre as well which will take form the substance of a later post. Before proceeding to the rules, two qualifications must be made, first, many books are not worthy of this level of reading, the reader must read each book according to its merits; second, these rules describe an ideal performance of analytical reading which is the measure of achievement, such an ideal cannot always be reached but gives readers a goal to strive for and directions on how to proceed.

Continue reading “Let the Reader Understand, Part 1”