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On Bathroom Readers

Uncle John’s Bathroom ReaderMany of you might be familiar with Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. C’mon, admit it. You’ve all read while on the throne at some point in your lives. But what many of us have missed is that we can get a good deal of reading done in this manner. So it is my proposal that Christians everywhere immediately stock their bathrooms with two items: a Bible and a good Christian book.

Someone with whom I had been involved with in the arenas of (yes, in this order) apologetics, witnessing, polemics (they followed the Joyce Meyer school of thought), and finally Christian fellowship (once the Trinity was grasped, orthodoxy wasn’t far behind, no pun intended) once told me that if you only read a few pages a day while on the can, you’d read the entire Bible in a year or a little more. She had actually grown frustrated at the command of Scripture I had in apologetic and polemic defense against her, and took the step of putting pocket Bibles (full length, large print) in every bathroom in her home as well as her car and desk at work. It was her attempt to get just as adept as I so as to refute every argument I brought to bear. By God’s grace, it was not to be. She told me that she had read the entire Bible through at least twice in one year simply by reading on the chamber pot.

For a person who was, at the time, non-Christian to take such a drastic step speaks volumes to me and is extremely humbling. I have not had such a level of desire for Scripture since my “baby” days. A glance at the average Christian these days shows that is actually par for the course, not an abberation. Though at least two Bibles are out in every room in my apartment (except the kitchen), after hearing this from her I made sure that from then on there was a Bible in the Temple of El Bano. Every Christian, in my opinion, should follow suit; and every Christian should actually read the thing while in the Unholy Place. I will make one concession: throw in a Sudoku book for variety.

Why do I also recommend a good Christian book? Because, next to Scripture, theology is the single most lacking deficiency in every Christian. Ask the average Christian about their doctrine and you will find answers ranging from the silly, to the outrageous, to the downright heretical. Unfortunately, perhaps not a good deal of orthodoxy. Ask them what constitutes “a good Christian book,” and the answers you get ought to make you tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. Joyce Meyer – Hah! Joel Osteen – Hah! A Jedi craves not these things. We should stay away from 99% of all books sold in “Christian” bookstores or in the “Religion” section of our major secular booksellers (such as Borders, Books-A-Million, or Waldenbooks). Those books are nothing but fluff. Christians should spend more time in the “Theology” section of their Christian bookstores, or find good online booksellers of theological works.

Augustine for Armchair TheologiansChristians should be acquiring meaty works of doctrine and placing one of them next to, on top of, or under the Bible on that bathroom shelf. And I don’t really care if these works are systematic theologies or introductory books such as the Armchair series. The point is to get us into doctrine by any means necessary. In fact, I just finished my copy of Augustine for Armchair Theologians while in the worshipful position. The entire Armchair series, by the way, would make a wonderful bathroom reader set. So would the entire Puritan Paperbacks set by Banner of Truth, for that matter.

What, you may be asking, is the point of this post on perusing paperbacks in a powder room of putrescence? Simply this: we need to be more intentional about our reading. We can’t say we will read when we have a comfortable chair and the dog sitting in our lap or a fire in the fireplace. We can’t say we will read during our scheduled times. We must be intentional about making Scripture and sound doctrine central facets of our sanctification. And sometimes the best ways to do that are practical ways like making the Bible and a good doctrinal work our bathroom readers. Until we start telling our congregations to get with the program, we’ll continue to think The Purpose-Driven Life or Your Best Life Now are the best things since grilled cheese.  And we’ll continue to cut theological cheese until we do.

And before you ask, I have a Bible, The Secret Key to Heaven, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, and The Mystery of Providence on the shelf of my water closet.

Categories: Theology
  1. November 18, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    thank you so much for this.

    i have long been an “uncle john” fan and have gotten better at watching “jeopardy” because of it.
    but what a great insight on how to reddem the time.

    and for the record, ” perusing paperbacks in a powder room of putrescence?” absolutely stellar.

    -stephen

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