First, what are the word choices of the author? I have two examples of common buzzwords in modern Christianity: broken and community. Are those terms Biblical? Not in the sense they are used today. For example, one might say, “We live in a broken world” or “I need God’s grace because I am a broken individual.” On the surface level, this seems like it agrees with Scripture, but the word “broken” subtly shifts responsibility outside of the sinner to circumstances or Satan. We are not merely “broken”; we are transgressors, enemies of God, condemned! (Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:10; John 3:18) I don’t accuse the authors of intending their readers to interpret the word as such, but we need to be so careful what words we use to represent God’s truth! (Some ideas taken from Michelle Lesley’s website here, but BEWARE, she is Calvinist in her beliefs.)
Semantics aside, let’s consider another key issue to consider when reading ecumenical literature. Is the writing dramatic and over-the-top? Or is it fearful and reverential of God? It was hard for me to pinpoint this one, because often the authors have really good things to say, things that agree with Scripture! But when God’s awesome, matchless grace becomes “winsome” or “jaw-dropping,” doesn’t it cheapen our value of it? Think of it like this, lay a modern Christian book next to a work by Oswald Chambers or Charles Spurgeon. You will see how the modern book tastes like fluffy, sugary cake next to the difficult, meaty phrases used to describe God’s majesty. Watch out for authors who are overly flippant with the Father and Jesus rather than choosing fear and reverence for their tone.
To summarize, God tells us to “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Don’t take the words of any author (even me!) as truth—compare it to the Word of God to see what God has to say about it. Please don’t just avoid reading these books altogether, but read them with your eyes open to word choices, an irreverent attitude, and hidden agendas.
Laura started attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church as a child when her family moved to the area. For years, her primary passion was in nursing and furthering her education. In the midst of pursuing a medical degree, God changed her plans and she married Jonathan Snow (read their story here). Now, she has discovered a special fulfillment from being a wife and a mother! Truly, God’s ways are always for our good and for His glory.