Tony Reinke, in his excellent book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books:
What types of books should Christians read? Scripture is the most important book, and the highest priority for our reading. Christian books can teach us valuable lessons about God, the world, our sin, and our Savior.
But in this chapter I want to focus on the value of non-Christian books. By that term, I mean any book not authored by a converted Christian or written from an explicitly Christian motive. What should we do with all these books? Should we burn them? Should we treasure them? Should we read them in secret under the bedsheets with a flashlight?
My conviction is that non-Christian literature — at least the best of it — is a gift from God to be read by Christians. These books are, in the words of Spurgeon, gold leaf compared to the gold bars of Scripture, but they are gold, and they do have value.
He then discusses seven benefits to reading non-Christian books. I’d love to reproduce the whole discussion, as it is an excellent outline on how to think about the relationship between common grace and saving grace, but to see that you’ll have to get the book! But here are the seven benefits he goes in to:
- Non-Christian literature can describe the world, how it functions, and how to subdue it
- Non-Christian books highlight common life experiences
- Non-Christian books can expose the human heart
- Non-Christian books can teach us wisdom and valuable moral lessons
- Non-Christian books can capture beauty
- Non-Christian literature raises questions that can only be resolved in Christ
- Non-Christian books can echo spiritual truth and edify the soul