I am a Presbyterian minister who also writes. I previously worked in pharmacy and education.

This blog is my sermon mill. I use it to store and share quotes and ideas. It focuses on what I’m taking from what I’m reading.  I created the blog after reading Isaac Watts’ book on Logic, which says,

In order to preserve your treasure of ideas and the knowledge you have gained, pursue these advices, especially in your younger years: – 1. Recollect every day the things you have seen, or heard, or read…2. Talk over the things which you have seen, heard or learned, with some proper acquaintance…3. Commit to writing some of the most considerable improvements [i.e. applications] which you daily make, at least such hints as may well recall them again to your mind, when perhaps they are vanished and lost (1847 edition, pp. 72-73).

Header image from Creative Commons

34 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m very interested in how you’ll reply to this question: Concerning Martyn Lloyd Jones ( who was seriously doctrinal and orthodox) and the doctors’ own comments about C.S. Lewis ( who is bright in a high sense – as you may know by reading his books and with his form of teaching as a “Romantic Rationalist”). Here is my question; ” With all the comments made from others like the Doctor ( that C.S. Lewis was defective in his teaching) and even C.S. Lewis himself opposed the reformation ( a disliking of the Puritans and that they were a farce with their issues). Now here it is; “why would somebody care to read C.S. Lewis when his theology seemed unstable at times and highly philosophic?” Isn’t there other wags to engage the imagination apart from this fantasy that comes from this group the inklings and George Macdonald? Why? Why this emphasis on an enchanted land? Wouldn’t be a more profitable use of “time” to read those who are very in tuned with the scriptures? How do I reconcile a wanting to not wander from the Bible and this large attraction to C.S. Lewis ( who seemed to be defective in areas of truth) ?
    Thank you
    grace and peace to you!

    • There are several things to address with your question. First, according to Iain Murray’s biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, MLJ was not opposed to C.S. Lewis or his writing. The two were acquainances and Lloyd-Jones actually encouraged Lewis, after writing his first book The Pilgrim’s Regress, to continue writing ‘Christian’ books. Second, Lewis did not dislike the Puritans. I have an entire post dedicated to Lewis’ positive comments about the Puritans. It is called ‘C.S. Lewis Defining and Defending the English Puritans.’ In addition to the quotes listed there, Lewis was very fond of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. He wrote and then lectured about it many times. You can find an essay he wrote about it online (I have quoted from it on this blog). In addition to this, two of Lewis’ favorite authors were a part of the early Reformed tradition – Milton and Spenser. This is not to say that Lewis was Reformed, but that he had a healthy respect for their teaching.

      Next, as far as imaginative literature, or fairy stories, or whatever you may call it – Edmund Spenser and John Bunyan were the early champions of Protestant imaginative literature. Lewis followed in their wake, and was influenced significantly by both. Since that time such imaginative writing has waned. Lewis is really the only source of such (non-Catholic) literature written, of that type of quality, in the past century or more. And the fact of the matter is that we need such writing. Jesus was a master story-teller. The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, all of his parables, flow from His brilliant imagination. And he gives such stories, parables, illustrations, or what have you, to help us not simply believe doctrine as if it were simply rational, but to engage God, and his kingdom, through the imagination. In a non-perfect way, that is what C.S. Lewis brings to the table. He lived to provide us with ways to engage God through the imaginations that God has given us. Someone once said that the rationalist wants to get the heavens into his head, so his head cracks. But the poet only wants to get his head into the heavens. That, in my opinion, is where Lewis is helpful. He helps us to lift our imaginations.

      Next, as far as your point about him being ‘philosophic,’ I’m not sure I know what you mean. He studied philosophy to be sure, but I wouldn’t say that he was more philosophical in his teaching than the standard Apologist of our day. Let me wrap up by saying this: I started reading Lewis about four years ago. Before that time pretty much all I did, as far as reading, was read books on theology. I have virtually every Systematic Theology you can name. I have dozens of books by the Puritans. I have dozens of books by MLJ. And I love them all. But in my last semester of seminary, at a Reformed seminary, a professor recommended that I read The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. I read it, and I immediately realized that for all of the doctrine I had learned, I had never read anything in one of those books that lit up my imagination and creativity the way Lewis did. There are many more problems with MacDonald, but when you read him you realize that his stories are virtually imaginative parables in which he is attempting to teach Bible doctrine. You have to eat the fish without swallowing the bones, as you do with all writers, and preachers, for we are all sinful and none of us have a perfect understanding of the Bible. There are points where Lewis is wrong. His view of the Old Testament was not high enough in my opinion, his view on the exact nature of the Atonement is vague. But even where he is wrong he is often helpful. You’d have to read him to understand what I mean. But he generally exalts the Scriptures. I do not know of anyone who has begun reading Lewis and said, ‘This guy made me believe the Bible less.’ I don’t know of anyone who’s read him who has said, ‘This guy has a low view of Jesus Christ.’ He had a very high view of Jesus, and he spent latter decades of his life trying to share the gospel in as many ways as he possibly could, whether through lectures, or essays, or children’s books, or what have you.

      I can only give you my experience of Lewis and opinion. As an orthodox, Reformed Christian who subscribes to the Westminster Confession, I think it is highly worthwhile to read him. God has used his writings to enrich my life and as a means of helping me understand the world, and Scripture, better (this is the way he uses all our teachers). He has not driven me away from Christ or the Scriptures, as you’ll see if you browse the blog. If I could only read or listen to people with whom I agree 100% of the time there are few who would be left standing, including Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who is my, speaking in a natural way, hero. You mentioned the ‘Romantic Rationalist’ phrase. If you have not listened to Piper’s biography of Lewis at Desiring God, I would encourage you to do so. I don’t want to sound like I am simply painting Lewis more highly than he deserves, but I also want to contend you that he is not as bad as you apparently think he is. If you choose not to read him, that is absolutely fine. But he does bring a sort of literature to the table that you would have to go back to the 16th and 17th Centuries to find, and he speaks in our modern language.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, I’d be glad to continue the discussion.

      • Hi Heath, I with you love MLJ and owe more to him under God than any except maybe Spurgeon. I read Lewis’ Narnia and Till we have faces in my younger days and enjoyed him, though didn’t make it through his Mere Christianity. I think it would be true to say MLJ was not so enamored with Lewis later in life. I am listening to his revival sermons and he said this about Lewis – “Do you remember the vogue of CS Lewis? You don’t hear much about him now, but why all the excitement? Ah, here is a philosopher. And it indicates our pathetic faith and belief in these methods, which are nothing but apologetics. As exactly in the beginning of the 18th century they were pinning their faith to Bishop Butler and his great Analogy of Religion”. – 1st Revival sermon (1959)
        “They argue about Him with their pipes in their mouths and talk about Him as if he’s a term they can handle and bandy about. God is not an abstraction, someone to be argued and thought about and to be fitted into our schemes. Philosophy has always been the curse of the church and it is the curse today!” – 3rd revival sermon
        His tone was rather unflattering when he said that. Interestingly, when Crossway put the revival sermons in book form they left out those quotes. Probly to protect Lewis reputation I suppose, but rather dishonest in my opinion. Anyway, nice blog and happy new year!

      • Nice to meet you, Dan. Thank you for sharing that quote with me from the Revival sermon. I haven’t posted on this thread in a while, so I’m not sure what all I have written above (so I may have mentioned this), but Iain Murray definitely says Lloyd-Jones tried to encourage Lewis to keep writing in their private conversations.

        I will probably write a post about that quote from MLJ after I listen to the sermon. That’s really interesting.

        Thanks again, comment any time.

  2. I will post some more tomorrow or the next day if I get to it. By the way; I proposed my questions and speech as if I was against c.s. Lewis. But I did so to see the reasons and response to them. However. To the contrary. I actually have read many books of c s Lewis and 2 biographies of him. And I really do need to tell you how I found this website …its mysterious and I came to the conclusion that this finding of your website is by the providence of God….until tomorrow….God Willing


  3. Ive been reading “how to read a book ” by Mortimer Adler and there was a train of thought about living on a maroon island and being able to take 10 books that are rereadble and that help the reader increase in understanding in many ways . What 10 books would you bring?

    • Probably the Bible, the seven Chronicles of Narnia, a book of poetry, and Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ by John Owen. If I could count my seven Narnia books as one, since I have them in one volume, I’d add my two volumes of Jonathan Edwards’ works, The Lord of the Rings, more John Owen, probably Communion with God, Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount by MLJ, Personal Declension and the Revival of Religion in the Soul by Winslow, and Animal Farm by Orwell because I’ve read it three times and it still entertains me and makes me think.

  4. This has nothing to do with your comment. I’m questiong the recommended reading list at the end of the book….”how to read a book”. Its prevalent that Mortimer j Adler is interested in philosophy and of Plato; Aristotle and Socrates…. Im ignorant to how I should go about viewing philosophy and science and some of the ” The great books of the western world” that he listed at the back of the book. Colossians 2:8 says ” Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit; after the tradition of men; after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Would you interpret this text as focusing most of our “leisure time” reading the Bible and if I want to read ” old book” like c s Lewis said: ” because they didn’t make the same mistakes we do today” then I should read only Christian classics or just be stepping into literature with caution? I don’t know; I’m 18 years old and I would like to use my mind efficiently and to the love of God…knowing that there are “bad books and good books” is there any experience you’ve been through in this are of reading? Or do you just mainly focus on spiritual growth of the whole man through those saintly Christians that walked be for us with the exception of some books? I hope this paragraph makes sense ….kind of blabbing and I know ive commented many times on your blot….some are probably self – evident and like ” why would you ask that kind of moment”

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about Adler’s recommended reading at this point in your life. Read the Christian classics. I certainly wouldn’t worry too much about philosophy unless it is something that particularly interests you. The main thing, at your age, is to read solid biblical exposition that will help you get grounded. Once that foundation is set, then you can add other types of reading to your diet. Aside from that, it is good to read poetry and some fiction to keep your imagination going.

  5. Thank you! I have a few books of my small collection like orthodoxy; everlasting man; the man called Thursday by g.k Chesterton that I haven’t read yet. Also 7 books from c.s. Lewis complete collection that I haven’t read except for mere Christianity, that I have. I have Alan Jacobs biography of c.s. Lewis; John Milton’s paradise lost and those two I haven’t read. Other books like Thomas Malory’s le de Arthur; p.g. whodehouse

    . I have domestically duties by William gouge ; who is a Puritan and I have the Puritan theology book by Joel beeke and 1 church history book. I have a few other books of c.s. Lewis that ive read like surprise by joy and four loves …and narnka series and his cristicism book. Also I have the Puritan harddrive on my computer……( so many writers I’m too perplexed what to read). Is there any Christian classics that ive mentioned? Any other Christian classics that you would suggest? ( I read pilgrims progress off and on)

    I’m not familiar with many poets. C.s. Lewis mentions George Herbert and William Wordsworth like the prelude.
    What’s are some good poem books or poets?

    For imaginary; I do enjoy C.s. Lewis. Any others authors or books for imaginary fiction? This last month I finished reading the hobbit and the lord of the rings series. ( really good) better than the movies by far. I really like phantastes by George Macdonald but Lilith was a challenge at some points.
    Robinson Crusoe is a favorote classic…if you’ll call it that…it was under the English classic section at the library.

    What are some good imaginary books?


  6. I don’t know where to place this comment and question so I’ll just put it here. I know I have asked you about many a topic once before and yet I preside further. Observantly , I can say you’re familiar with education in a general sense and in a some what specific sense. Or you wouldn’t be advocating this blog because a uneducated person wouldn’t have anything to say but their own experience. I have read that you went to college and so that means you’ve been through school k-12 at least. My question is that of education and more specifically of a liberal arts education. I have once read this from C.S Lewis (I don’t know exactly what he said), He said something like this: That it would of been more profitable for a child to grow up just learning the classics and mastering them, then to have had a superficial knowledge of many a topic. For example, I have taken science in different forms physics, biology, etc and I have taken English and history etc but my mastery of those subjects is very slim if at all left in my memory. What I’m asking (that is if you have any advice) should i get a liberal arts education like that of a christian classical education? I just graduated from high school last year and unfortunately all I have is a diploma to show for it. I mean, I’m not satisfied with my learning in those thirteen years. Should I just read books and learn from them? Should i be only steeped in the christian classics? Should i venture off into the Greek classics like Homer?

    What I’m saying is i have the sense of a need to repair the ruins of learning and what is being learned.



    There are two links of what I’m talking about.

    How do you see education? and how do you fill the need in the lives of your children and even yourself?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. Austin,
    I am not an authority on subject of education by any means, but I do have opinions. As far as education for children goes, I am a believer in homeschooling as much as possible (especially in the early years, which is where I am with my children). I can get into that discussion if we need to, but it seems like your primary concern at this point is for your own education.

    I do not believe that studying the classics is enough. I am a believer in a solid Liberal Arts education. C.S. Lewis was a master of literature, as was Dorothy Sayers. This was their gift, but it is not everyone’s gift; and without beginning with the Liberal Arts it may be quite difficult for some to find their gifts.

    I am a firm believer in the Liberal Arts. For one thing, exposure to a broad range of subject and ideas may allow you to find what you are truly interested in. For another, and most importantly, the triune God is Lord of all, not just literature, logic, and rhetoric. And because God is Lord of all we can see His glory in all (if we have eyes to see). He is Lord of art, Lord of music, Lord of science, Lord of psychology, Lord of sociology, Lord of mathematics, Lord of all. Let me just give some personal testimony about that.

    I went to junior college, then to a private Christian college to study Biblical Studies, then completed almost four years of seminary. And now, after all that, I have actually gone back to college at a state university (I am graduating with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies in August). For the last two years I have been studying Communication, Psychology, and Instructional Technology, and I have found those studies to be extremely helpful. I had to take college algebra and statistics last year. I am 33 years old and hadn’t taken a math class since I was 17. This time around I saw the beauty of God in my studies of math. I found a world that was wholly objective in math. There was no debating right or wrong. It is a world of order and symmetry and beauty because it is a reality that God himself has made to reflect His glory.

    I also had to take a science class last year on physical geography. I was preaching through Romans 8 at the time, and though my textbook was wholly atheistic, I got more light on Romans 8:19-21 from that class than I did from any of the Bible commentaries or seminary classes.

    As a preacher, I want to know something of everything because Jesus Christ is Lord of everything. For most people, who are not preachers, they will need to narrow their focus to the subject on which their career will deal with primarily. And I think that’s fine (that’s why I went to seminary). But a foundation in the Liberal Arts is wonderful. As Christians, we should be the true humanists, believing that God becoming human in Jesus Christ gives credence to all (non-sinful) human endeavors. The wise man Solomon was not schooled in the Classics; they hadn’t been written yet. But he studied the plants and the animals -the flora and fauna of creation – and was gifted by God to be called wise above all who had ever come before him.

    My last word is this: be busy studying the Bible and reading those writers who know His Word better than you do. But plunder the Egyptians for all their wisdom. Don’t be afraid of a secular education so long as you bring God with you into it. You are an adult; you are developing a mind that has discernment. Use that discernment in every area so that you won’t have to be afraid of any area.

    Read as many of the Classics as you want; enjoy them. I have. But don’t feel that you need to limit yourself unless that is a particular area of study that God has called you to for the benefit of his people and his world.

  8. I agree with this and this is helpful, that is, to acknowledge that God is the Lord of everything.

    Lets just propose a what if, for a moment.

    What If I don’t go to college? Is there any way I can develop a “Liberal Arts Education”? Do you know how I can pursue this by self teaching, that is with a book?

    I know this is an exception but I’m going to mention it anyway. I adore studying Abraham Lincoln, his life, his presidency, and how he handled the civil war. In fact, Abraham Lincoln never went to school…he was self-taught. Everything he learned about being a lawyer came from a book..that he read. His war tactics came from letters and from books he checked out at the library.

    I’ll have to add that I didn’t have a pleasant time at my high school. I was converted to Jesus Christ at the end of 9th grade and so the whole of my friends forsook my company in a flash. They didn’t want anything to do with this Jesus or the change in my life. Anyway, the reason I would go to college is to of course “learn” something. Unfortunately, I’ve been taught that my overall grade in any class comes from how much I can recall from my note taking or the information I have absorbed along the way as if I were a machine.

    I disliked English class though English is one of my favorite classes. The teacher kept on stopping every chapter with every book….I have no idea what Hamlet or Macbeth is about.

    Then again, It would do more harm then good to say Secular education is gone with the wind or just plain chaff. There is something to be had there.

    Can i get a education on my own with other books? Isn’t that what I would do anyway in college…read and study and write?

    Please say more on the liberal arts education and what this all about…I’m intrigued


  9. I just wanted to add that by far…..books…literature has impacted my life tremendously. I’m the kind of person that would get more out of reading a text book then have the teacher talk about the text book. Even though, I’m sure they make sense of the text book. I would like to call my self a avid-reader. I haven’t always been a “reader” (I was more of a athlete….wanting to be outside all the time and be playing 3-4 sports at a time but it was actually reading that showed me the truth of God. I was first introduced to the the Father by reading the Bible one day in 9th grade reading time…which was only like 15 minutes. I was able to read a few chapters each session and by God’s providence….I become born-again and so did my Dad (there is a story behind this).

    I saw the world differently by reading classics in the western canon like the Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, even Tarzan of the apes (I was introduced to savages with poison darts and flesh eating tendencies, White fang, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, etc.

    Like you said reading the classics is not enough but what is a liberal arts education then really?

    • I would encourage you to keep reading. You probably will do a great deal, maybe even most, of your learning that way.

      Liberal Arts education entails what most colleges teach you in your first two years. You are introduced to philosophy and the social sciences, and continue to study science, math, and literature before getting in the specifics of a major.
      I don’t have time today to go into great detail today, but I would encourage you to go to college if it is at all possible. Keep reading and studying on your own to be sure. But aside from the fact that a college education can be helpful in introducing you to subjects and perspectives that you might not study on your own, it is pretty much essential in our culture to get a college degree if you are going to pursue any type of career that will involve creativity and deep thinking. I am not saying that this is necessarily right, but it is the way it is.

  10. At the lower levels of college like junior college and such, was their much interaction with your peers or was it manly study and listening to the teacher talk?

    Not that I don’t like talking to other students but I saw it as a great distraction in class and a hindrance to my learning ever so much.

    There are times for discussion and other like things which should be profitable on those occasions, I would imagine it to be so…..How is the atmosphere in college?

    • I went to junior college, and it was a mixed bag. Some teachers lectured the entire class and left little time for questions and discussion, other teachers liked for most of the class period to be discussion. That’s actually part of the beauty of it. I don’t think you should trap yourself into one learning style. Ideally you want to train yourself to be able to learn in any situation. The idea is that you want to adapt to whatever situation you are put in and make the most of it.

      I’m not saying college is perfect; you can be fine without it; but I also know that you’re probably going to need a degree for just about any job you may want in the future; and it will force you to stretch yourself and challenge you by forcing you to learn about subjects you wouldn’t have otherwise cared about and to learn in ways that you might not learn in otherwise. And it is a good opportunity to meet people whom you can learn from.

  11. Its a growing realization of this, thank you Heath, at this moment in my life I’m not able to enroll in college. However, by the grace of God I will venture into it soon.

    “Ideally you want to train yourself to be able to learn in any situation.” –This a worthy saying by the way

    I do wish to illustrate appreciation for your posts…I just got done reading a Martyn lloyd jones sermon about God being a live and acting in the affairs of men. That was very profitable to my soul. He (as in the Doctor) said a verse in Malachi saying, ” Prove me now” which came like lightning down in the midst of the darkness and expressed a God alive ever so more. Also the warning of forgetting God during our duty and missing the wood for the trees is a brilliant way of putting it.

  12. Just wanted to articulate my thanks to you for creating this blog. I have been following it for maybe two months now,. I am reminded of when C.S. Lewis said “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” You occupy yourself in matters that I also find to be of great importance, and I routinely find your commentary on such things to be edifying.

    I have silently valued your words, amidst the sea of communication that has come to be the internet. I wanted to take a moment and both affirm and encourage you in what you do here.

    Many thanks,

    • Thanks for passing that along; I actually laughed out loud, but it’s really not funny. It’s a perfect illustration of so much that we’ve been discussing.

  13. I also found it darkly comedic.

    You know, if the way people treat food and diet is any indicator, I’m not too hopeful that our society will ever really reform itself. We know alot about nutrition, yet McDonald’s still dominates. We are quickly learning alot about balancing needs with technology, and yet Google and Apple are making these stupid glasses… Nonetheless, as with diet, there will hopefully always be countercultural movements in technology full of people striving toward truth. A minority perhaps, but that minority CAN grow in its size and effectiveness, God willing.

    By the way, did you finish “Surprised By Laughter”?

    • No, I did not finish it. In fact, I think I only read about 80 pages and put it on the ‘to read’ shelf in my bedroom. I have been slogging through Owen’s commentary on Hebrews for the past 3 weeks and it has taken up most of my reading attention.I am going to read Calvin on Relics, and Maggie Jackson’s book Distracted (starting it next week), and then the Laughter book should be back in the rotation.

  14. Heath, don’t know if you know but the MLJ Trust now has all his sermons free to download! I’ve been buying the tapes, CD’s and DVD’s for 15 years so this is nice news to me. I think MLJ became less happy about Lewis as his philosophical outlook changed. I’m not sure he encouraged him so much in later life, at least judging from his words and tone in the revival sermons. I do think we should allow all men SOME latitude in beliefs as we are all so prone to error and our views change over time. Some bloggers seem to take pleasure in dismissing famous folks from the past (Spurgeon, Wesley, Tozer, etc.) as not Christian because they didn’t agree with their neat and trim ideas. For myself I’ve got real help from some in the Catholic Church of old (Guyon, Fenelon, and others) though I don’t follow all they believed and did.
    Blessings to you and hope we can communicate more,

  15. I just came across your blog while trying to research a quote. I see you’ve done some work on Polanyi and hoping you could help me. I just came across Polanyi tonight and saw some folks quoting him that all knowledge is intensely personal. But I don’t find that exact quote from his Personal Knowledge book. Is there a similar quote or does he actually say that in his book? Looking forward to reading more of your posts too. Thank you!

    • I don’t know that there’s an exact quote where he said the words “intensely personal,” but the concept is there. The main issue in Polanyi’s work is that he’s trying to refute the logical positivists, who had heralded the idea that “science” is completely neutral: you follow the scientific method, there’s no place for intuition, presuppositions, personal passion, etc. Polanyi emphasized that most scientific discoveries happen not by simply following the scientific method, but by accumulation of personal knowledge, meditation on the subjects you care about, flashes of intuition, etc. He made the argument that all knowledge is rooted in things that are tacit (beliefs we hold but can’t even articulate because they are so rooted in us). He believed that we have to indwell things in order to understand them (such as indwelling the words of a book as you read). You cannot detach yourself from the words; you have to sort of dissolve yourself into them. All knowledge is the same in a sense. If you want to truly learn something, you have to allow yourself to indwell the subject you’re studying. Spend hours saturated in it, meditate on it, etc. I hope that makes sense, though I don’t think it adds much to what I’ve written on the blog. You’re welcome to ask follow-ups. I enjoy Polanyi’s stuff.

    • I had a feeling the quote you mentioned might come from Polanyi’s book, The Tacit Dimension, so I did a search for that. (I’ve never actually read that book). Here’s some stuff: http://www.anthonyflood.com/hosinski11.htm
      Key quote there being, “The choices are made by the scientist: they are his acts, but what he pursues is not of his making; his acts stand under the judgment of the hidden reality he seeks to uncover. His vision of the problem, his obsession with it, and his final leap to discovery are all filled from beginning to end with an obligation to an external objective. In these intensely personal acts, therefore, there is no self-will. Originality is commanded at every stage by a sense of responsibility for advancing the growth of truth in men’s minds…”

Your Thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s