Pastors and books

The Bible talks about how we should not support a false teacher or welcome them into our home. If we purchase books by heterodox teachers, are we supporting them? Are we, in effect, welcoming them into our home? My pastor has many books by non-WELS authors. Is that proper? He says we can learn some things from these authors that are not in WELS-written books. Isn't he in danger of adopting some false teachings found there? Is it a fellowship issue?

Our publishing house offers books from authors beyond our fellowship. Before those books are made available for sale, WELS pastors review them for doctrinal accuracy. It is not a violation of biblical fellowship principles for our members to purchase those materials.

On the other hand, it is a different situation if an individual provides direct financial support to a heterodox ministry and then, perhaps, receives a book in return as an expression of gratitude.

When we read any materials, we want to be aware of the author’s public confession of faith and note how that confession of faith might conflict with biblical teachings in his or her materials. Reading critically is key.

Could the reading of some books put a Christian in danger of adopting false teachings? Certainly. That is always a possibility. That is one reason, among many, why the apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy is always applicable for pastors: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Might I offer a suggestion? October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Perhaps you and your congregation could add some good books to your pastor’s personal library. That is one way your congregation could support your pastor in a very practical way that can benefit both him and the people he serves.