The Mark of a Good Book

My dad was a very wise man who taught me a number of unforgettable lessons. One that stands out is “If you want people to believe a lie, print it!”

I have seen the truth of these words confirmed again and again. Books have an air of authority around them, which explains why people are oftentimes disappointed when meeting an author.

In reality there is no difference between the authority of the printed and spoken word, no matter how popular the former may be. As Robert Boston has wisely pointed out: “How a book sells is not an indication of its merit. The … public has a seemingly bottomless appetite for nonsense, as evidenced by the countless tomes about astrology, aliens from outer space, quack diets, and UFOs that have regularly graced best-seller lists over the years. Some books that sold millions have later been exposed as hoaxes. A slot on the best-seller list tells you exactly one thing about a book: that a lot of people bought it.”

The same goes for Christian books. In fact, a Christian book’s fame may oftentimes be an indication of its shallowness (The road leading to perdition is broad, remember?). A Christian bestseller list is an indication of a book’s popularity, never of its theological soundness.

The single most important criteria for judging a Christian book is never its popularity, relevance, practical usefulness or readability. Rather, it is the degree to which the centrality of Jesus Christ dominates the book.

That may sound a bit abstract, so let me assist by listing a group of Christian authors whose books fall into this category (There are many more): Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, A.W. Tozer, Dietrich Bonnhoeffer, Major Ian Thomas, T. Austin Sparks, Jessie Penn Lewis, Oswald Chambers.

Start reading these authors and you will know exactly what I mean.