I have read your book containing the pastoral rule, brief in style, pregnant in doctrine, replete with sacred lore; I confess that your work is sweeter than honey to the needy...
- Columbanus, Letter to Pope Gregory (Irish, 6th century)
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
Columbanus was an extremely busy missionary. At his headquarters in Gaul he maintained a rigorous schedule of spiritual disciplines, trained young men for the ministry, engaged in evangelism, consulted with the royal court, and worked on the farm. Still, he found time for serious reading.
Gregory's Pastoral Rule is one of the great works of practical theology from the period of the early Church. Gregory sent a copy to Columbanus in 594 AD, and the Irish saint devoured it eagerly. I have no doubt that his own ministry was improved from what he learned there.
Paul also was an avid reader. In our text he indicates familiarity with Epimenides of Crete, a kind of proto-deconstructionist, whose slick messages were making him and his followers popular but were throwing into confusion the house churches on Crete. If all Cretans are liars, then it's not true that they're all liars. But if they aren't liars and always tell the truth, then they're all liars...and so on. No wonder Paul charged the elders of Crete to deliver the saints from such nonsense. What was at stake was nothing less than the knowability of truth! (See today's ReVision.)
Pastors and church leaders must be good readers, not only of the writings of contemporary Christian leaders, but of the great works of the past and important works from the world of unbelief. We are "disciples" of Jesus Christ - "learners." As such we need to apply ourselves diligently to the work of learning, and reading is fundamental to this.
The more we read the better we will be able to understand the times and know what the people of God should do (1 Chron. 12.32). Have you established good reading habits? If not, there's no time like the present to begin. We're happy to make suggestions; all you have to do is ask.
Today in ReVision: Of Salt and Rot - Perhaps the secular world is beginning to awaken to the monster it has created?