My Questions And Struggles With Books From Fallen Leaders

Recently Tim Challies took the time to deal with the question; What do we do with books from fallen leaders? His post was very helpful and to be quite honest I agree with him. He posted pros, like it’s still truth, and cons, like it’s a form of payment or support when you by their books. In the end here was his conclusion,

In the end, exercise wisdom, heed conscience, and take cues from the local church. Consider all of these factors, trust that God delights to give you wisdom, carefully heed conscience when it calls or accuses, and be willing to follow the cues of the author’s church or denominational authorities.As for me, I find it difficult to read books by authors who have disgraced and disqualified themselves. Depending on the kind of immorality he displayed, I may even get rid of his books. We of all generations are so blessed by good books that I see little reason to even consider ones written by leaders who have made a trainwreck of their ministries. I can’t think of a single category of book that needs the work of a fallen author. There are other great books on leadership, other ones on marriage, on prayer and suffering and Christian living. I do not need to rely on the books of those who have justly been removed from ministry. Neither do I need to read or recommend them.

Here is my struggle/questions, I wouldn’t read material from a known racist or slave holder. If a pastor would hold those views, I would consider him fallen and refuse to read their books. And yet we are encouraged to read the Puritans and Reformers, knowing some were racist and slave holders.

I love to read and I must admit, I love to read the Puritans and the Reformers. I have grown in Christ by reading their books and at the same time I realize some were racist slave holders. I know we don’t consider the puritans fallen preachers, so what category do we put them into. What should one do? 

I have always taken I Thessalonians 5:21 approach,

but test everything; hold fast what is good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Filter and test everything according to Scripture, hold on tight to the truth, the good and let go of everything else. Brothers, there is much truth, much good in the writings of the Puritans and Reformers. And yet I say this knowing I would refuse to read someone current who was a racist, do you feel my struggle. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Propagandas Precious Puritans, especially the last few lines “So I guess it’s true that God really does use crooked sticks to make straight lines.” I guess my struggle is how crooked does the stick have to be before we stop reading their books? 

Until Next Time 

Soli Deo Gloria


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