Thursday, May 26, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen

      I am presently ( May, 2011) reading an interesting and informative book on theology by Roger E. Olsen. The title is: "The Mosaic Of Christian Belief (Twenty Centuries Of Unity And Diversity)." If you enjoy reading historical theology, you will enjoy this book.
     However, this is not a blanket endorsement of all of Roger Olsen's opinions, any more than favorably quoting from the King James Version is an endorsement of the many false doctrines of King James and his translators. Olsen is not narrow-minded enough to suit me on some points.
     But, it is a valuable book just the same. If we read a book only when we agree with every thing an author says, we won't read much at all. And, we certainly won't grow much intellectually, and perhaps not much spiritually, or in knowledge of the Bible. Our minds and hearts will remain shallow wells, from which little water can be drawn. Reading confronts us with new ideas that stretch the muscles of the mind. Reading acquaints us with unfamiliar words that increase our vocabulary.
     Perhaps it was A. W. Tozer who said a man can't preach from an empty head. I say, if a preacher doesn't read much, he is attempting to do just that. That is especially true for those preachers who do little Bible reading. If one has little time to read books about the Bible and the Bible itself, by all means, read the Bible more than books about it. But attempt to do both. About reading books, C. H. Spurgeon said that he won't read won't be read, and he who won't quote won't be quoted.
    What follows is a quote from pages 42 and 43 of chapter one of Olsen's book. The context has to do with someone moving to a new location and trying to select a church to join. He gives good insight about both those seeking a new church, and the condition of churches these days. Perhaps we could say that the seekers and the churches often are in sad shape. Olsen wrote:
   "Sociologists of religion tell us that two things have happened in the last decades of the twentieth century that complicate this matter of choosing a church. First, many people have such little familiarity with or concern for beliefs that they don't even know what to look for other than clues to how churches worship. Many people base their decisions about churches more on worship styles or programs for children, youth or adults than on what the churches believe. And yet every church has beliefs. Finding out what they are is not as easy as it used to be, and many church hunters don't have any idea what questions to ask or what clues to look for. Denominational titles don't help as much as they used to, and the list of nondenominational churches (many of which actually do have a denominational affiliation but wish to hide it) is getting longer every year. Second, many and perhaps most churches have seriously downplayed theology and doctrine in the second half of the twentieth century. It is very hard to find out what a church believes and whether or not it actually takes the beliefs it says it holds seriously." 

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