When All Books Have Been Read

June 30, 2021   •   blog post by Lecturer Knut Kåre Kirkholm blog

We have come to the season when intellectual influencers, among them theologians, reveal their summer reading lists. It is tempting to join their ranks; my reading lists tend to be rather long. And be sure, I plan to read books this summer. I love books.

I will, however, give an important reminder in the midst of all our intellectual pursuit. Some time ago I read a poem by a Norwegian pastor and writer. The last few lines made me stop and think:

Just wait: When all the books of the world have been read
and all sciences have had their say,
Christ still stands.
Just wait and see:
Christ still stands.
He alone.

When the Preacher, son of David and king in Jerusalem, completes his reflections, he gives a similar reminder.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b-14)

In the world of theological studies there definitely is no end of making many books. And the study of all those books is wearisome. John even completes his gospel by pronouncing that Jesus did so many things that ‘were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written’ (John 21:25).

The point of both the poem I cited, and the message of Solomon is to remind us that there are things in life that are more important than studies, knowledge, publications, academic performance and achievements. God is. ‘Fear God and keep his commandments.’ The end will come and there will be a judgment. The day will come when my skin is destroyed (Job 19:26). On that day Christ will be the only one standing on the earth. The important question to ask is whether he will stand there as your redeemer or not. Keep that in mind as you race through your summer reading list.

Knut Kåre Kirkholm, Norway

Lecturer Knut Kåre Kirkholm
Norway