“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” —Acts 19:19
Some professing Christians today take an overzealous book-burning mentality beyond the Biblical truth and have become “the Firemen” of Ray Bradbury’s novel. Is it good to show such zealous commitment to Christ, as did the former practitioners of curious arts in the day of ancient Ephesus? Absolutely.
Nevertheless, we do not find in any other New Testament passages where the former practitioners got together and burned their books. In fact, the text at hand states that “many of them” brought their books, not all of them. You see, we don’t know if the “many” referred to in our passage represents all of the practitioners of curious arts but not all of the disciples converted in that move of God’s Spirit; neither do we know if the “many” referred to were merely many of the practitioners of curious arts of all those saved by God’s grace from such practices. I believe its ambiguity give us an opportunity, not for corrupt licentiousness, but for a demonstration of real Christian liberty.
Some of us have dropped our association with a church or bookseller because the proprietors have carried and endorsed books advocating and teaching heresy and false doctrine; and rightfully so, if they have indeed endorsed and promoted such teaching. Yet, we must be careful that just because a bookseller carries a book such as Celebration of Discipline, The Practice of the Presence of God, or even The Shack, The Divinci Code, or The Purpose Driven Life, it doesn’t mean that the retailer promotes, advocates, or endorses the doctrines printed between the covers.
Some of these books I have; and I’m grateful to have them for research purposes. Some very horrific and heretical titles have been given to me; and because of that, I have more than one copy of titles such as The Purpose Driven Church. For the titles that I don’t have, however, I do wish some of my friends carried one or two copies of Celebration of Discipline, say; or perhaps, Spiritual Maxims by Brother Lawrence. I used to have these two books but not any longer. If I had the fiduciary wherewithal, I would much rather purchase them for the sake of research from my dear friend, Mike Gaydosh, at Solid Ground Christian Books, or from our good friends at Monergism, than to have to purchase it from some secular or spiritually loose establishment.
Another way we may “burn books” is through links on a blog or website. “Oh, I’m not going to link to them because they’ve linked to _______________.”
By disassociating with a confessing Christian because they are not living up to the standard that I believe they must live up to causes us to possibly bear false witness against them and against ourselves for failure to apply Romans 14 to the situation. Does this mean we must embrace every single person that names the name of Christ as someone who is a brother or sister in the Lord? Of course not. Passages of Scripture such as Matthew 7:21-23 would suggest otherwise. Be discerning and act with prudence.
By the way, if you know of anyone who would like to donate a copy of Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, or any other books promoting or endorsing contemplative mysticism, please have them get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am but a poor, old, broken-down country pastor on a very limited budget and simply cannot afford to purchase these items. Thank you.