Posted by: Billy Marsh | October 11, 2007

Personal Libraries That Serve The Church

Well, if you’re a SWBTS student, its no secret that Dr. Patterson requires each individual student to have a 1500 book personal library in order to graduate. I never really started a personal library until about a year before I came to seminary. In fact, back in more of my ignorant times, I remember selling back my “Christian Studies” textbooks for money in my freshman and sophomore years at College. What an idiot!

Now, Dr. Patteson’s ideal requirement has become a goal of mine. I’m still not close to the finish line though; I think that the last time I counted I had somewhere around 500 books, give or take a little. However, as a full-time student who reads for labor and leisure, books have the potential of taking on many different shapes and forms. They can just as easily be trophies or burdens as they can be major movers and shakers in your spirtual walk in the Lord. Dr. Al Mohler, president of SBTS, has written a nice little article on the blessings we all have concerning the widespread access we have to an endless amount of books.

He then looks at Jerome and how he helped found Christian scholarship. Apparently, Jerome was one of the first Christian historical figures to own an impressive personal library. However, Mohler points out that in Christian antiquity, personal libraries were intended to be passed on to others. Books were a means for building God’s church. In fact, even the earliest churches had their own personal libaries. Mohler encourages all Christians to start their own personal libraries with the intention of equipping oneself for the Christian life as well as having the opportunity to be a blessing and contributor to the Church.

Do your bookshelves serve a purpose beyond personal knowledge? Are they just showcases of trophies made of paper? Do you treasure them for the right reasons? How do you decide to buy a new book? Is it because you have to have certain ones on your shelves for reputation’s sake, or are you buying books that are helping you use your gifts to build God’s Church? Do your books aid you in your spiritual walk and assist you in making disciples?

Some of my books

Don’t get me wrong, I love my books, and I cherish them with a thankful heart. But, I really appreciate Mohler’s exhortation to us that we should view our constant exposure to a vast amount of books as a better opportunity to build personal libraries that build the Church rather than egos. Do you have a holy purpose for building your library? I hope so, and I will strive to do the same.

Click here to read the article.

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