Have you been to the Downtown City Library? Here in Boca it’s a really nice place. Architecturally it’s most inviting. Even though it’s a very modern building, it sports some attractive classical features. Airy and bright it begs you to come in and read.
Now, it doesn’t stock the most classical literature. Stacks and stacks go by full of videos. And music is featured prominently. And the periodical section isn’t bad for a city our size. But truthfully, I tend to rate a library based on the theology sections, and going to the, well, the call letters for that section are not best put in this context, but suffice it to say, I didn’t find a whole lot of Biblical commentaries there. That’s OK – it does not purport to be a theological library. A European literature student would be equally disappointed.
But I did find an encyclopedia there that I had not seen before. Simply titled the Encyclopedia of Religion, it took a full section in a rack, reminiscent of the Encyclopedia Britannica of ages past. What was lacking in the stacks elsewhere was made up by the size of this one work, I guess.
I wondered who wrote the articles. And so I pulled one out, and found that each article credited the authorship at the end. So I looked up a couple and, well, the people seemed to be modern authorities on the subject. (OK, so I just looked up two, and both had died recently, but still…).
This Wikipedia on paper begged the question about authorship because when it comes to reading anything about theology and about God, the source matters. Who is telling you the answer affects the way you take the information in. I learned this in Seminary. I took a class on the book of Romans from an atheist. Now, I loved Dr. Boers. But I could not trust him in his teaching. Because of that we had great discussions, however! I eventually even took an Honors class with him. But I still always had to balance what he said with his disbelief of the subject matter. When, on the other hand, you take a class on the Life of Jesus from somebody who is sold out for Jesus, you relax in the lessons.
This matters in encyclopedias, in schools of theology, and on Sunday mornings. As a pastor I need to make sure that my life, not just my personal faith, lines up with what I am preaching. You need to know that I love Jesus, believe the Bible, and have dedicated my life to being a disciple of Jesus. Then you can decide how to interpret what comes from the pulpit.
OK. So it matters in encyclopedias, seminaries and the pulpit. It also matters with each one of us. We can’t come to Christmas Eve services and shake our heads when we hear about the virgin birth. We can’t come to Easter and, as the Gnostics did, not believe that He physically died. (Just for the record, both of these things are in the Apostle’s Creed – a defining piece of theological articulation for us). When we believe it personally, our lives will reflect it, and then we will look more and like the Savior who came to redeem us.
Christmas is almost here! Listen to the story. Take it in, celebrate it, and live in to it. And consider the sources. Considering yourself a source as well!
And visit the library. It has good stuff in it.
Looking forward to Christmas,
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Mark 4:24