Advice to my students in regard to reading your textbooks:
In the days in which we live, the zeitgeist promotes the idea that more is better. This philosophy of life has somehow extended itself into the area of religious education. I am not suggesting that you should not read broadly, you should. However, I believe that you will be better served by reading deeply. In Sven Burkitt’s book, The Gutenberg Ellegies, he distinguishes these approaches as intensive reading versus extensive reading.
I have tried to find textbooks for you that are enjoyable to read, comprehensive in nature, and either consistent with a Christian worldview or culturally significant. I encourage you to challenge yourself by going beyond the assigned readings and exposing yourself to other authors and ideas. However, if the choice is between intensive reading of the class texts or the books on the class bibliography, I hope you will choose to read the class texts, then re-read them, and then read them again.
We can discuss this more in class, but for now I share with you an excerpt from the Preface of Andrew Murray’s book, The New Life;
“Let every portion be read over at least three times. The great bane of all our converse with Divine things is superficiality. When we read anything and understand it somewhat, we think that this is enough. No: we must give time, that it may make an impression and wield its own influence upon us. Read every portion the first time with consideration, to understand the good that is in it, and then see if you receive benefit from the thoughts that are there expressed. Read it the second time to see if it is really in accordance with God’s word: take some, if not all, of the texts that are adduced on each point, and ponder them in order to come under the full force of what God has said on the point. Let your God, through His word, teach you what you must think and believe concerning Him and His will. Read it then the third time to find out the corresponding places, not in the Bible, but in your own life, in order to know if your life has been in harmony with the New Life, and to direct your life for the future entirely according to God’s word. I am fully persuaded that the time and pains spent on such converse with the word of God under the teaching of this or some book that helps you in dealing with it, will be rewarded tenfold.”