SHOULD WE READ DENOMINATIONAL LITERATURE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Friend, you have undoubtedly noted that very few local churches and ministries use the (“old-fashioned”) King James Bible, and even fewer understand that Authorized Version rightly divided (“dispensationalism is heretical and cultic!”). There is therefore a high probability that much of the “Bible literature” you will come across will be wrong. Many preachers, expositors, and writers use so-called “easier-to-read” modern English versions—and perhaps several in the same work. The King James Bible is not “scholarly enough” in their view, especially when communicating with fellow members of “academia.” Additionally, most desire to repeat denominational doctrine than use the Bible dispensationally. It makes the people happy, it entices them to continue supporting the denomination’s “programs,” and it ensures the “tithes” will keep coming in. But, if we are to reach them, we will have to acquaint ourselves with denominational teaching.
Over the years, this author has come to adopt the mentality of, “Eat the meat, and do not choke on the bones.” Friend, read as much as you can about a variety of religious beliefs (Christian and non-Christian). If you are going to reach people who are of a different system than your own, you must become aware of its teachings to reach them on their level. Now, you will have to strike a balance between knowing their system and yet not adopting it as your own. You should be grounded and skilled first and foremost in the King James Bible dispensationally delivered. If you are not established in the truth of the Authorized Version rightly divided, dear friend, you will be easily swept away when dealing with opposition. This author has seen it time and time again, and it is truly sad.
If ever you see a “Christian” magazine, book, pamphlet, or sectarian “bible” lying around—sitting in a doctor’s office, visiting at a relative or friend’s house, riding a public transportation vehicle, et cetera—glimpse through it. Get a sense of what that particular group or denomination embraces. It does not mean that you have to like or believe what you read, just get familiar with it. If given a DVD, a CD, or a link to an online video, give it a listen it to some extent (also radio and television). Survey the conflict, and see what your battle will be like in dealing with the person. If you find technical material—Bible manuscript information, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, critical commentaries, lexicons, and the like—you may use it but with great caution. If a relative or friend invites you to their local church, attend at least once, but remember not to make it a habit. Be very careful here; be very careful here!
Whenever dealing with anything denominational, make a note of what people believe about the matter, and move along with your reading or listening. At some point, if the material becomes repetitious, you may not be able to tolerate it. Put the book down—maybe permanently, if you so desire. Or, come back to it later. Pause the recording. What you should exercise great caution about is exposing yourself to too much false material. Some people thrive on focusing on nothing but error. They make it a habit to attend any and every denominational group, listening to different views on a variety of subjects, enjoying the “debate” from all sides. Rather than experts in the Bible, they become experts in false teaching. Their souls have no stability and they remain unlearned.
Notice the Apostle Paul’s sermon in Athens as recorded in Acts chapter 17: “ Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
“ Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Notice in verse 28 how Paul quoted Greek poets: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” These poets were heathen, lost men. Yet, Paul, the minister of Jesus Christ, was familiar with their religious writings and readily offered one of their quotes to those of their culture. In other words, Paul knew his audience’s background and he blatantly used pagan sources when they communicated something that agreed with the Holy Bible. The Apostle studied non-Biblical writings to better reach those around him, and we should follow his example.
To answer “I am familiar with your group/preacher, and this Bible passage is why I disagree with it/him” is much better than claiming, “I do not know what you believe, I have never read anything about it, but I do know it is wrong and here is what the Bible says.” No, we show lost people—or even saved, denominational people—we know what they believe, we know where they are coming from, and we have a better answer in the Holy Scriptures. We want to avoid the appearance of being know-nothings—zealous but misinformed or uninformed. God’s people need to be ready to answer anyone and everyone, even if it means quoting their own holy writings to correlate to Bible truth.
Here is one last word of warning. Dear friend, whatever you do, dear reader, whomever you consult, the King James Bible will still be your final authority. (That goes especially for this author’s writings!!) If a teacher or book offers a “better translation,” discount that advice. The authority has been taken away from the Bible and given to a man. That is most dangerous.