Church Library, where Theology goes to die

The church library is unlike any place in at church. Grandmothers bring their well-worn novels that helped them make it through the tough times. Teachers bring their trusted curriculum in hopes that someone else will benefit like they did. Mothers bring their sentimental wholesome children’s books that their babies have now outgrown. Pastors bring their overflowing resources that have gone unused on the office shelf. The church library is quickly filled with the generous donations of the faithful in hopes that someone else will love this collection written words as much as they once did.

Your pastor did not inform what is contained in this library. Most church members do not even now how most of these books ended up on the shelf. It has turned into a random gathering of Christian sounding topics. But not all books are equal. Not all devotions are helpful. Not all Christian fiction is Christian. Not all commentaries are Biblical. In this little room of the church, shelves of theology are packed in no particular order. Locked away in an extra room, the forgotten stories and wonderings sleep undisturbed. For the better.

Indistinguishable great works of art and silly children’s books rub covers on the bookshelves. Passionate calls to reform the church share space with prosperity preacher’s ten step plans to make life better. Abandoned seminary textbooks mashed between self-published manifestos. All for the taking in the church library.

As much possible good is contained there, there is surely just as much ridiculous distraction. Questions of truth and benefit may be overlooked simply because the material came from church. The most important take away from the Christian church is the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection has forgiven you all of your sins. Yet, unfortunately if you happen to visit the church library, you may take away a burden of Christian fiction guilt or another cookbook designed to move you closer to the Holy Spirit.

Really anything involved with the church should be open to the same scrutiny. Sunday School, choir, bible study, worship. If any piece of the church is a mashed-up mess of unreflective theology, our hope and comfort in Christ alone is at stake. Other stories and explanations may appear just as likely as the exclusive truth of a Savior. Other chains and slaveries may attract us back into the bondage before freedom in Christ. Righteousness may feel like it’s right at our fingertips from the grasping. And just a little bad theology can destroy our entirely empty desperate need for God’s Son.

So, lock up your library. Better yet, relentlessly teach and discuss the center of the Christian faith: forgiveness for you on account of Jesus Christ, alone. And then maybe we can thin out that church library.

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