Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. (Proverbs 8:10-11)
Reading exposes us to knowledge and wisdom that we are likely not to think of on our own. Reading enables us to provide well-articulated reasons for our beliefs. Reading also allows us to understand and analyze the weaknesses of humanistic philosophy. Reading gathers up knowledge within us so that we are able to creatively identify and solve real-life problems. It is no wonder that it is often said, “He who reads leads.”
Fortifying the Kingdom recognizes that America is in the midst of a culture war. Christians who are unread, or not well-read, will not be able to effectively engage in this war. But reading is not a casual or effortless exercise. It requires specific direction, dedication, and perseverance. The fact is that most people do not know how to read. Bojidar Marinov (see his website here) has provided a brief introduction to reading in an aptly titled Facebook post, HOW TO READ:
I have been asked this question many times: "How should I read?" Most people, especially if they have not been given a good start by their parents, have trouble adjusting their lives to consistent reading, even when they understand that reading is of extreme importance. I have seen some give up and just follow the inertia of their habits. Most of it is because many people believe that reading must be some magic, and when reading, you must absorb and understand and remember every single argument and statement of the book you are reading.
Here's what I suggest, which has worked for me: You need two types of reading, quite radically different from each other.
1. QUICK READING
I also call it "diagonal" reading. This is the more relaxed style, the one you do when home after work, or when traveling on a plane, or when in the bathroom, etc. Just read to know what's in the book, generally. Read as quick as you can, don't stop to think over every single statement and argument, unless there's something special which you need for your immediate situation. You won't remember everything in detail, but you will remember the overall picture, and you will know where to go later when you need the specifics. Have books in several places around the house where you can pick them up easily and just continue reading from where you left them before. Get one or two books in your backpack on the plane. (I take one to church, too, and read during the sermon. If the preacher doesn't like me doing that, he always has the option of doing his homework of preparing a sermon that is intellectually and spiritually more nutritious than the book in my hands.) If you keep this way of reading, eventually your horizons will expand enough to be able to see a broader picture than before. It will be a shallow picture, for the breadth will come at the expense of the depth, but it doesn't matter, you need the breadth. Eventually, this breadth will help you build a structure, a sort of skeleton for the whole body of knowledge you need, even if in places that skeleton will be lacking all muscles, nerves, and sinews.
2. TOPICAL READING
Every once in a while – or, if you are a Reconstructionist, at least twice a day – a specific topic will capture your mind. May be you are in a situation that requires certain level of proficiency in a certain field. May be a friend will ask you a question about your beliefs and ideas and you will need to give him a satisfactory answer. May be you got in a debate on a certain topic and you performed badly and got your . . . whatever it is . . . handed to you on a plate. You now need to use that skeleton you built by your diagonal reading, and do some deep reading on a topic to add flesh to it. Did any of the books you have reads so far address this specific issue? Where did you read about it? Can you build a consistent case based the specific paragraphs you found? Do you need to read more on the issue? Are there any footnotes with more books for this issue? Do you know people who seem to have better knowledge, who can direct you to more books? Etc., etc.
If you combine these two, in the end you will have enough breadth of knowledge to see the whole picture, and you will have enough depth on certain issues to be relevant for the task of Christian Reconstruction and be of help to others.
One thing is sure: Don't try to make all your reading detailed and deep. You will get easily frustrated, and on Christmas you may find out you are still reading the book you started last Christmas. (Bojidaor Marinov, Facebook group, The CR Reader, April 15 2015, 6:05 PM)
In addition to general books that are profitable for Christians to read, Fortifying the Kingdom seeks to recommend books that are specifically helpful in enabling Christians to effectively engage in the cultural battle. Many of the books listed below can be read for free online.
- The Bible (front to back and crossed referenced)
- Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms and Regulative Principle of Worship
- The Belgic Confession
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion
- R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law
- JI Packer, Concise Theology
- John Frame, Van Til An Analysis of His Thought
- Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic
- Ray Sutton, That You May Prosper
- RC Sproul, Grace Unknown
- Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready
- Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion
- David Chilton, Days of Vengeance
- Rich Lusk, Paedo Faith
- Randy Booth, Children of the Promise
- Benjamin Wikner, To You and Your Children
- Jeff Myers, The Lord’s Service
- Kenneth Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission
- R.J. Rushdoony, Law & Liberty
- James. M. Wilson, Establishment and Limits of Civil Government: an Exposition on Romans 13:1-7
- Junius Brutus, A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants
- Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex