I once heard of a minister who after a term in the United States chaplaincy threw away his library. Fortunately, not many ministers would follow this example. Those who proclaim the Word of God recognize the absolute necessity of books and find it hard even to conceive of a vital Christianity that lacks the stimulus of Christian writing.

Christians are not only “people of the Book,” but people of books, in general. Babylonian libraries shaped the ancestors of Abraham, Egyptian papyri educated Moses, Greek classics and Hebrew commentaries honed the mind of Paul. In time the Book of books became the center of a whole field of literature. As the Gospel confronted the world, the church fathers set forth their faith and defended it against attack through what came to be deathless writings, like Justin Martyr’s Apology, Athanasius’ Defense Against the Arians, and Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo. When the Goths were knocking at the gates of Rome, Augustine envisioned the spires of The City of God rising from the rubble of the dying empire and in his multitudinous literary works laid the foundations of Christian thought for succeeding centuries.

The Sharing Of Knowledge

The Middle Ages treasured up this heritage in crypts and cloisters until the Renaissance and Reformation showered it upon the world. Printing presses multiplied copies of the old volumes and made new ideas common property. Such unrestricted sharing of knowledge might have had its dangers then, even as now. Yet history cannot be reversed, and many of us, even if we could, would not exchange the hazards of our enlightened Space Age for the terrors of the intellectually benighted Middle Ages. The only antidote for the deadliness of a little learning is the fullness of truth that ...

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