Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Read Fiction or Not - Quote from Spurgeon

 Agree or disagree?
How many young people there are whose hearts are just a road along which thoughts of levity and desires for amusement are continually going! How many precious hours are wasted over the novels of the day! I think that one of the worst enemies of the Gospel of Christ, at the present time, is to be found in the fiction of the day. People get these worthless books and sit, and sit—forgetful of the duties of this world and of all that relates to the world to come—just losing themselves in the story of the hero or heroine. I have seen them shedding tears over things that never happened, as if there were not enough real sorrows in the world for us to grieve over! So these feet of fictitious personages, these feet of foolish frivolities, these feet of mere nonsense, or worse, keep traversing the hearts of men and making them hard so that the Gospel cannot enter.
from THE SEED BY THE WAYSIDE, NO. 2843, a sermon, DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 13, 1888. “As he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.” Luke 8:5.
As much as I usually like Spurgeon's quotes, I can't fully agree with this.  I do agree that fiction can be a waste of time, and I used to become so engrossed in (mostly just entertaining) novels that I could hardly tear myself away to do my duties or read the Bible, so I understand that part.  My dad warned us against escaping reality this way, and I never understood him at the time.  However, some novels provide Biblical wisdom, similar to a parable.  Some provide lessons in manhood and womanhood and noble virtues.  Some provide an interesting look at history.  Some merely give us something to laugh about, which I believe can be good, uplifting medicine, as the Bible speaks about.  Yet let us remember that novels can be harmful, just as movies can, and we are to be careful what we watch or read.  It is a shame if we shirk our duties and avoid seeing and helping with the needs right around us.  Also, there are biographies, theological books, and other nonfiction that can be more edifying and helpful to read.  And let us remember that the Bible is the best book--not to be neglected, but to be studied and gone over until we are so familiar with it that we live by it and advise by it and die by it.


Nicole said...

I think this quote is true, and these days it's not just books but TV, movies, and Internet that young people spend way too much time watching and reading. When I was younger I loved reading Christian fiction (mostly romance) and I justified the hours and days I spent consumed by them because they were "edifying." Not all the books I read were spiritually challenging or encouraging.

I still read a lot, but lately I've been trying to read stuff that is more helpful to my walk with God. I like to read biographies of great Christians. Their stories can be dramatic, thrilling, romantic, an even humorous at times - even more so than fiction.

The Bible is definitely the best thing to read. I used to read Christian fiction books instead of the Bible, because I thought they were more exciting. I was really missing out on the deep Truth, wisdom, and exciting stories that the Bible has to offer.

Melissa M. said...

You're right that biographies can be exciting to read, and I agree that we should read more of that.

Good points, thank you.

Melissa M. said...

I, too, justified reading Christian romance because they were "edifying." And some of them were to a small degree, but most of them were way too shallow and more harmful than helpful.