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Old Books

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I love new books. When a publisher’s catalog of upcoming books lands on my desk with a thud, I’m happy. So many books to read, so little time.

I plan on continuing to buy new books. But I also need to keep reading old books. So do you.

Better Than $10 Million

I was struck by this tweet by Dane Ortlund:

If you offered me $10 million to erase from my heart what Goodwin has taught me, and never be able to read him again, I’d politely decline.

Thomas Goodwin is a 17th century English Puritan. His combined writings are cheaper than the price of a ticket to a hockey game where I live. And yet, according to Ortlund, they’re worth more than $10 million.

Ortlund’s not alone. Tony Reinke writes:

Goodwin was mighty in the scriptures and a scholar of the human heart. He was balanced in topics and so provides help for the preacher on various themes. He was never content with the superficial, but dove to the depths of divine wisdom.

His complete works provide us a lifetime of learning into the sin-killing glories of Calvary. It is a set worth planning your library around.

Goodwin’s not your only option, though. Puritans abound. According to J.I. Packer reading Puritans may help to cure “the disaffected casualties of modern evangelical goofiness.” Better than $10 million and the cure for evangelical goofiness? Sign me up.

But Puritans aren’t even the only option. The writings of the past provide unexplored treasures for the Church today. Pick an old Christian classic. You’ll find riches that are ready to be rediscovered.

Join the Eight O’clock Conversation

C.S. Lewis advises us to become familiar with the conversation of which we’re a part. It didn’t begin in our time. We’d be well-advised to know what was said before our time. “If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said.”

According to Lewis, reading old books will help us avoid the blind spots of our own time:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.

Surface Ancient Treasures

So let’s read old books. Continue to read new books, but find some old books that have stood the test of time. Treasure them. Struggle through them. Look for ancient treasures, and surface them for today. We could all benefit by reading old books.

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And if you want to contact Darryl, you can email him at feedback@DashHouse.com.

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    Could you put a list together of some great old books. Authors not to miss. Titles that would be worthwhile reading for those of us not in the ministry.

    Thank you for the article. I’m an avid reader myself and I’m in the middle Of Hans Hildebrand’s The Reformation, which consists of a lot of primary sources on the Reformation. But in addition to the admonition that you give to read, a (long) list of book suggestions would be great. My goal this year is to read ten good strong books on theology and apologetics, so the more suggestions, the merrier. I’ve already read this year: Knowing God by JI Packer and Van Til’s Apologetic by Bahnson. I started The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhofer, and though I loved the first chapter, he got sorta wacky in the second.

    God chose to allow me to walk blindly throughout my young adult life not seeing the value in the wisdom of those who were before. Once He opened my eyes to the wisdom of the past I was blessed by the affects of that special revival, the pouring out of His Spirit, that occurred during the first three centuries after the Reformation. We are so blessed now to have easy access to translations of European Theologians as well as easier to read editions of English and Scot writers. Much is owed to men and women who have labored with little material reward to provide us these works. Also those like yourself who remind us of these “dead guys.” Dr. Don Kistler sparked in me a love for these venerable men of the past.