Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review: How Should Teens Read the Bible?

How Should Teens Read the Bible? by Joel Beeke is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This booklet is very short at just 27 pages and looks at the importance of daily reading of  God's Word.  The writing style of this book is definitely geared toward a younger audience.

I appreciated Mr. Beeke's reminder that "[i]f reading the Bible doesn't bring you into communion with God, then it's a failure," (p. 8).  He also stresses the need to pray before Bible reading and poses the following rhetorical question: "If we pray for nourishment from our physical food at every meal, shouldn't we pray much more for spiritual nourishment from very Bible reading?" (p. 15).

When considering practical helps for Bible reading, Mr. Beeke emphasizes the importance for daily Bible reading and Bible memorization.  These are profitable habits for all Christians, but it is extremely helpful to instill them at a young age.

As a proponent of the Traditional Text, I am surprised that Mr. Beeke did not recommend reading the King James Bible.  Unfortunately, he was silent on this important issue and missed an opportunity to influence a younger generation in the subject of Bible translations.  Since there are so many Bibles to choose from, I think his guidance would have been readily heeded by those who have not settled on a particular version.

When discussing the joy of Bible reading, Mr. Beeke contends that "[r]eading the Bible will not save you.  In fact, reading the Bible won't change the way God looks at you at all.  If you are an unbeliever, reading your Bible, in itself will get you no closer to God...And if you are a believer, reading the Bible will not make you any more acceptable or pleasing in God's sight...The difference between a believer and unbeliever is Jesus Christ; it's grace, and nothing else," (pp. 22-23).  I agree that the act of reading the Bible just for the sake of reading it may not save someone; but it might because the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God.  The Apostle Paul tells us that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," (Rom. 10:17).  It's dangerous to be so dogmatic about what will and won't save a person.  In addition, the author missed a perfect opportunity to present the Gospel for the unbeliever who might be reading his book.

Overall, I thought the practical helps and guidelines given by Mr. Beeke to encourage teens to read the Bible were helpful.  Therefore, I would recommend reading How Should Teens Read the Bible? to teenagers and young adults who are new to the Christian faith.

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," (John 17:17).