Engaging some of the classics of Christian theology can be valuable for those trying to sort out problems or difficulties of the Christian life. I’ve often found that the problems I face have already been faced by another Christian before me. Their written insights provide us with an opportunity to avoid a few pitfalls.
For example, if we look at the account of John Bunyan’s conversion and subsequent roller coaster ride of emotions and spiritual warfare, we see the evidence of spiritual struggle in a Christian life. In a world where pleasure comes microwave-ready, Christians (in America at least) tend to miss the value of pain and struggle. Often the prayer becomes, “Lord, deliver me from this disaster!” which is all well and good. Even David prayed these kinds of prayers (Ps. 6, 40). However, we often forget prayers such as, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4a). If John Bunyan experienced dark valleys and lived to tell about them, it must be possible for Christians today to face them and survive as well. If we know this, we don’t need to wonder if the valley of death and despair is God’s will. We don’t need to build that foundation again. We know God can and does use valleys for our good.
The thoughts, experiences, and truths found in classic Christian works have withstood the test of time. Millions have read from, benefited from, and testified to their value. These time-tested authors can become mentors and guides to those traveling the same path they themselves walked down hundreds of years before. Their works become landmarks and roadsigns, pointing to Christ and warning of dangers along the way. Paul even told the Corinthian Christians the Old Testament was written for this purpose (1 Cor. 10:6). We would be wise to read and learn from these earlier travelers.
With this in mind, we want to encourage the discussion of these Christian classics here on this site. Authors from Augustine to Lewis can provide invaluable life lessons and comfort in a time of difficulty. The community we want to foster on this site transcends time, in a way, when we read their work. Not only do we walk with each other down the path toward Christ, but those who went before walk along with us vicariously through what they left behind.