I'm grateful that since I've was saved back in May 2005 that the Lord has helped me grow from solid Christian literature and preaching! During my incarceration (where I was saved) I was able to come across some great resources to help me grow as a Christian.
Through the Lord's providence I was able to get my hands on some great biblical preaching! In our chapel were two shoe boxes full of John MacArthur tapes! In addition to that, his entire series on the book of Romans was available on audio. Through men of God like MacArthur, Charles Stanley, R.C. Sproul, Adrian Rodgers, Allister Begg, etc. I was able to grow in my understanding of God's Word taught and applied correctly! I also tuned into VCY America out of Milwaukee, WI everyday to hear great preaching!
Because I was a new Christian, I didn't have the discernment yet to know good teaching from bad. I was also listening to Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, and others from the Word of Faith Movement. The Health & Wealth Gospel is big in prison among inmates as you may expect.
But as the Lord began to show me the "real deal" of biblical teaching, my senses were exercised to "discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). I began to see a big difference in the teaching of John MacArthur vs. Word of Faith Preachers. There was something pure and godly about the teaching vs. the self-centered, all about me preaching!
I had plenty of time to read while incarcerated and the amount of books were endless. Our Chapel had a ton of different books on Christianity. You had everything from books on solid Christian literature of the past to the new charismatic books of the Word of Faith. I did a correspondence Bible Study through Mt. Zion Bible Institute in which all of the studies come from classic Christian authors such as C.H. Spurgeon, A.W. Pink, J.C. Ryle, John Bunyan, etc. This began to illuminate my mind in how far Christianity has gotten from sound biblical teaching and doctrine!!!
The Junk Food
It is my personal opinion and observation that Christianity today as become so watered-down that it is hard to distinguish the real solid food that Jesus intended for us to feed on! Much of Christian literature today does not focus on solid doctrine and application, but a self-centered, all about me philosophy on how to better oneself by 'using" Christ to meet their needs. It is not God-focused but self-focused. It is not about bringing God glory but fulfilling our wants and needs.
If you walk into any Christian bookstore today you will find a lot of Christian Junk Food!! What I mean by junk food is the false teaching and philosophies that distort our worldview and belief system. This food doesn't help us grow into strong mature Christians, but lazy self-centered Christians getting everything 'we' want out of life!
The junk food consists of: the Your Best Life Now books and 5 easy steps to achieving this or that! The false teaching of the social gospel, ecumenicism, name it claim teaching, mystical Christianity, Christian yoga, contemplative prayer, Purpose Driven Seeker Friendly Ministry methods, etc.
Why is this all Christian junk food? Because it is deceptively tastes good to our senses, but it rots away our growth and maturity as believers. It doesn't provide the correct nutrients to live a righteous and holy life that reflects the glory of Christ in us! It waters down the gospel and the clear teachings of Scripture with man-centered philosophies and gimmicks. It weakens our discernment so that we cannot tell good from evil, sound doctrine from false doctrine, true shepherds from hirelings, false preaching from biblical preaching! For an article talking about the dangers of books in Christian bookstores see: http://rippster4christ.blogspot.com/2011/11/dangers-in-christian-bookstores.html
Eat Solid Food
We need to stay away from the junk food and partake of the solid meat of the Word of God! First of all that means reading our Bibles! The Bible read in it's context is the only way to get fed and grow!! When considering Christian literature outside the Bible, there are solid teachers of our day that still stay true to the Scriptures without infusing their own man-centered ideas. But I believe that reading Christian Classics will really help us to grow and shed light on much of what we call "Christian" literature today. This website has books, studies, and tracts from classic men of God from every Protestant denomination that will help you learn the Word of God: http://www.chapellibrary.org/
In these last days we are warned by the Apostle Paul: " For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (2 Tim.4:3-4)
Fables are defined as a falsehood or lies. Much of the Christian junk food is nothing more than false doctrine and lies of the enemy repackaged. There is no shortage of teachers today who feed us this junk!
Let us be obedient to this verse: "Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict" (Titus 1:9).
In Christ -Dustin