One of the most important skills to learn in school is reading. Reading opens many doors in life, not just intellectual doors, but many other doors. Think of the joys that reading brings to life.

Early in my life, I began associating summer with special reading and study. My teachers in elementary and high school stressed the importance of reading — Mrs. D. A. Robbins and Mrs. Mildred Randolph were only two of my teachers who emphasized this essential skill in the lives of children and young people.

I shall always be grateful to Mrs. Robbins for carefully teaching and consistently stressing the value of reading to a little boy whose thoughts were not always on such learning.

From those early years, a love of reading, learning and writing has continued. I would like to encourage you to read more. Find a good book and read it.

The Christian faith is committed to education and to reading. Of course, there are other faiths (Islam is also “a religion of the book”) that emphasize the importance of reading and learning.

I would like to emphasize for all of us the importance of reading, studying and writing about the Bible and life. You cannot dismantle these three without losing something.

Reading is vital to study and learning; as important is writing which makes a record of how reading has impacted and inspired the one who writes. In this combination of skills the Christian faith excels.

Paul wrote, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come; and the books, especially the parchments,” (2 Timothy 4:13). We would do well to take some lessons from Paul in this matter of reading and studying books.

Some argue that the only book they need to read is the Bible. Consider these notes from Paul’s life —

1. Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but he still asked for books.

2. Paul had been preaching over 30 years, yet he needed books.

3. Paul was a college graduate and sophisticated theologically, yet he realized that he needed books.

4. Paul had seen Jesus face-to-face and felt that he needed books. Some who have never seen Jesus feel they don’t need books.

5. Paul had visions and was even “caught up to the third heaven,” and still confessed that he needed books.

6. Paul did say much about “faith, hope and love,” with love being “the greatest” of this trio of essentials, but he realized that along with these three we also need books.

7. Paul wrote 13, if not 14, books of the New Testament and still he was calling for books.

8. Paul was the best author of his day and felt that reading books was important for him and the ministry in which he engaged.

9. Paul was a great thinker, philosopher, theologian, yet he still desired to read and to learn from “the books, the parchments.”

These are merely some reflections on the importance of reading and studying books and writings. If Paul wanted books, needed to read and study, so should we.

Some people are proud of their knowledge, but there are some who are proud of their ignorance.

I would rather have a person proud of his intelligence and knowledge than a fool who is proud that he knows nothing and doesn’t want to know anything.

Paul, one of God’s chosen authors of the New Testament, did not put down intelligence and knowledge, but he did emphasize the Lordship of Jesus over all knowledge and all things. There are ideas and thoughts that are not appropriate or true. Reading, studying, and learning make it possible for us to know what is true and important in life.

Many years ago in a Greek class, my teacher, Dr. Huber Drumwright, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor of New Testament and Greek, made this comment that influenced my thinking on this issue of reading and studying.

He said, “Ignorant men have served God, but God is never served by our ignorance.”

Since that day, I have determined that I do not want to be an ignorant man serving God. I want to know and learn. I hope that this comment from many years in the past will also challenge you to overcome ignorance and foolish thinking that so characterizes many in our day.

We have access to information, to books, to literature, to many intellectual resources. Our libraries, our schools, our organizations are full of good materials for us to use. We have so much to read.

Have you read a good book lately?

I could suggest many good books to read. The summer is far along, but there is still time for all of us to read some good books.

One of the really good writers today is John Piper. He has produced a challenging collection of books and materials for Christians. One of his best books that you could read with great profit is a slender volume simply titled “Think” with the subtitle, “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.” Another book from the work of Piper and his colleague Justin Taylor is in this same realm, titled “The Power of Words and the Wonder of God.”

James V. Schall is an author who has produced numerous volumes worth reading, not just once, but many times. There are some books that should be read again and again. We should respond in different ways when we read and re-read these volumes.

I have made notes; marked passages; written responses in my personal journals; recorded quotes (after marking them in the text); and in other ways found inspiration in such reading.

Schall’s book, titled “On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing” is a book worth reading and re-reading many times. Published in 2001 by ISI Books of Wilmington, Delaware, it is still in print and worth the modest investment.

ISI stands for Intercollegiate Studies Institute that is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational organization that purposes to promote for college students and all others “a better understanding of the values and institutions that sustain a free and humane society.”

ISI was founded in 1963 to encourage “the best and the brightest college students and to nurture in these future leaders the American ideal of ordered liberty.”

As part of this organization’s intention the emphasis is on limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law, market economy, and moral norms.”

Check ISI out and consider the books they publish — on the internet go to isi.org. You will find some good reading, intellectually challenging reading.

Let me hear from you on what you think about reading, studying, learning and writing. Share those thoughts with me at drjerryhopkins@yahoo.com. You may also reach me by “snail” mail at Dr. Jerry Hopkins, P.O. Box 1363, Marshall, Texas 75671.

Jerry Hopkins is a retired history professor.