The Pastor's Study
2014-02-20
As a pastor, part of my job is to read.  Another part of my job is to equip the people God has placed in my care, in His church, with the Gospel.  And still, another part of my job is to protect those same people that God has placed in my care.  

One of the great results of the Reformation in the 16th century was that the Bible was printed in common languages.  Men died for this great blessing.  They were driven to put God's Word into every person's hands so that they could read and understand the Gospel for themselves.  In their day and age, only the priest was to exegete the Scriptures and relay to the congregation what God wanted from them.  The result was gross sin and error in the church by those priests and clergy who wished to abuse the people God had placed in their care.  A whole new world was opened up to "common" people when the Reformers put the Scriptures in the hands of the congregation.  

However, something else also happened.  Bible study and small groups.  Untrained leaders began to exegete Scripture and now it was every man for himself.  A culture of "what do you think the Bible says" developed and now every single opinion on earth mattered.  Fast forward 500 years or so and walk into a Christian bookstore and you will see what I am talking about.  More books have been written about Jesus than any other figure to ever walk the earth.  Add into that mix theology, commentaries, and Christian pop literature and the figures are mind boggling.  

Today, pastors are able to move to the top of New York best sellers lists simply by having their mega-church purchase tons of copies of their book and advertising that they are now a New York times best seller.  Recently, a news agency conducted an investigative report on Steven Furtick and his huge church, Elevation, concerning the warehouses full of his book that his church purchased which consequently moved his name to the best sellers list.  Because his church has purchased thousands of his book he now is then considered to be a New York Times best seller - not unlike the fake "likes" and "views" that studios were generating on their labels artists on YouTube and Facebook.  The end result is that Christians all over America buy in to the hype and marketing and begin reading pop literature that may or may not be based in good exegesis of the Scriptures (for the record, I have not read even a single page of a Furtick book and am not at this point making and judgments on his work but the marketing is shady).  

What does all of this have to do with protecting, equipping, and encouraging the people that God has placed in my life to be their pastor and as the Scriptures put it, a shepherd?  As I said earlier, I have to read - a lot.  I have to filter what I read through the Scriptures.  I have to ask questions about exegetical work, the process an author used to arrive at their conclusions and I have to discern the conclusions.  I am human and full of error just like anyone else, but I have some qualifications to make some theological and Scriptural judgments based on what an author writes and on what I know to be true in the Scriptures.  

In the coming weeks and months, I am planning on reviewing best selling books and posting my reviews on my blog. For some of these works I will be reviewing the books as I read them - in real time.  I will read a chapter or two and I will post what I am learning, what is encouraging, what is debatable, what is truth, and what I believe is downright laughable.  Essentially, if you feel like it, and you think it is helpful, you will be able to check out my pastor's library and dialogue as I take a journey through some of these works.  

I receive advance copies of books from publishers all the time and I am asked to write reviews.  I might as well kill two birds with one stone.  I am looking forward to posting very soon and will post the blog on Facebook and Twitter.  Feel free to comment, have fun, debate, dialogue and work through some pretty great books, some really crappy books, and some hotly debated books.  Welcome to the Pastor's Study!
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