Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Full Gospel, Fractured Minds?

From chapter 17 of Full Gospel, Fractured Minds? – a call to use God’s gift of the intellect, by Rick M Nanez, published by Zondervan 2005

It is no secret that most of the leaders in Full Gospel movements have failed to champion the cause of the great books of the ages. Think about it for a moment. When is the last time a book written before 1900 was recommended to you? Can we recall ten or five or even one article in our preferred Full Gospel periodical heralding the praises of Dante, Donne, Doddridge or Dostoevsky, Baxter, Boston or Brooks, Augustine or Anselm, Law or Lancelot Andrews, Sertillanges or St Thomas, Temple or Jeremy Taylor? Or how many hands do we need to count on to calculate the times that our favourite preacher has referred to Flavel, Fenelon, Frost, Plutarch, Pascal, Pound, Woolman or Watts? Furthermore, is it any wonder that few if any Pentecostals have taken possession of prominent positions in the literary world during the last one hundred years?

When comparing the prescribed reading lists of Edwards, Wesley, Spurgeon, Lewis, Sanders, Lloyd-Jones and Tozer with the reading habits of contemporary Full Gospel people, there is much to be desired. The gulf between the great literature of yesteryear and what is popular today is wide and ever increasing. In addition to the hundreds of pastors and laity that I have spoken with about their reading habits, and above and beyond the numerous church and pastoral libraries I have perused, I have also performed various surveys regarding the same.

On three occasions, I have collected data from Full Gospel leaders and pastors. One question on the surveys asked that the participants name the most effectual Christian classic that they had read. Among those listed the most often were: The Left Behind series, My Utmost for His Highest, The Cross and the Switchblade, In His Steps, The Pursuit of God, Hind's Feet in High Places, The Late Great Planet Earth, and, Piercing the Darkness. One-third of those polled could not think of one work that they considered a ‘classic.’ In addition, an overwhelming 96% attested to exclusively reading volumes written in the twentieth century. Among the most commonly mentioned, all-time favourite Christian authors were Chuck Swindoll, Janette Oke, Max Lucado, Frank Peretti, Watchman Nee, John Maxwell, James Dobson, Neil Anderson, and Tim LaHaye. Each of these writers offer aid to today’s Christian; however, I would suspect that many of them would point to authors of antiquity as their cerebral and spiritual meat and drink. Why?

It is truly tragic that none of the premium theological or devotional literature of the church’s first 1,800 years showed up anywhere on the surveys of ‘Pentecostal Reading Habits.’ If Spirit-filled believers herald their Full Gospel status, they should at least be compelled to show an interest in the way that God has deposited his truth, via the fullness of this Body, throughout the eons of past Christian centuries.
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