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When Our Bishop Dropped a Bomb. About Books.

July 9, 2019

Crackling with both tension and energy, the place was Standing Room Only.

It was a Saturday morning.

Our Bishop, Frank Beard, was leading a local debriefing session after a contentious international meeting.

Without warning, he dropped a bomb on us.

I’m still feeling its impact.

“We are people of The Book,” he said, and many of us nodded. I flashed to something John Wesley had said or written, something about “one book.”

But then our Bishop continued, “Or, more accurately, historically we are people of five books.” Quickly reaching for my pen and a napkin at the same time, I might have spilled a bit of coffee. But I can still read my notes from that moment.

Bishop Beard went on, “The first is The Bible.”

I flashed again to John Wesley’s line, maybe like “Is there a book that has God’s thoughts written down? I’d like one, whatever it costs!”

Turns out that’s actually found in the Preface to his collection of Standard Sermons (ask me about that sometime; it’s one more example of the brilliance of Mr. Wesley). Here’s what he wrote —

I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air.

I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity!

I want to know one thing: the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore.

God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven.

He hath written it down in a book.

O give me that book!

At any price, give me the book of God!

I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.

Let me be “homo unius libri.”

— Those last three words come from Latin into English as “(a) man of one book.” It’s been attributed to Thomas Aquinas, who reportedly said that he feared “the man of a single book.”

That’s the idea behind an old line that if you want to know what time it is, don’t ask the person with two watches.

John Wesley wanted Christians to be people of one book, people of The Book, people of The Bible.

Self-Inventory time…am I a person of that single book or not?

Are you? Or not?




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