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C. S. Lewis:

For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await others.  I believe that many who find that 'nothing happens' when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.

B. B. Warfield:

Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. What! Than ten hours over your books on your knees?"

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15 thoughts on “Devotion and Doctrine”

  1. donsands says:

    Excellent quotes. We need to listen to God, and not so much talk to Him. Though we certainly need to pray as well.

    I’d rather study Luther, than Dobson.

  2. Chris says:

    I find like Lewis, I get more out of studying about doctrine than I do reading a paragraph of something that relates to my well being. Give me God, give me His truth, and by awe that has struck me by knowing Him, my knee’s fall to the ground.

  3. David says:

    Read Andrew Murray and you’ll get both.

  4. Ryan says:

    Excellent quote by Lewis, but what does Warfield mean in his last sentence?

  5. John says:


    I think he means that prayer in combination with study will yield far more than prayer alone.

    Wise quotes from both. But what else would we expect from those two?

  6. Craig Hurst says:

    Love it! I am devoting myself to read through Bavink’s 4 volume Reformed Dogmatics this yr in the mornings and this is how I feel about it so far!

  7. shawn says:

    Nothing better than exegeting a text, reading heavy doctrine, and smoking a pipe!!!!!!

  8. Michael says:

    Good quotes, although I do think that we can get so wrapped up in doctrine from the perspective of intellectual stimulation that we make our study time devoid of actual life application or just learning more about who God is. It’s all a balance. I’m not really a big fan of devotionals myself, because I would rather apply scripture to my life directly. Devotionals have their place as a good way to get new Christians going who just needs help understanding what they read. I think the question we should ask ourselves is, regardless of how we study scripture, is the actual Word of God doing something meaningful in our hearts (not just our heads). If the answer is yes, then I think we’re on the right track.

    Son Followers Blog

  9. Dan says:

    We recently dropped devotionals after another lackluster month and faced with an upcoming month’s devotional applying “addiction/recovery” principles to the day’s Scripture reading. Now we are just reading a chapter of Scripture.

  10. Zac Hicks says:

    SO TRUE! All throughout seminary, I heard warnings from pastors and other former seminarians that seminary was really “cemetery”…a soul-killing wasteland, in a sea of superfluous doctrine and biblical minutiae. For me, it was quite the opposite. Deep theology and biblical “technicalities” invigorated my faith and ministry and brought me closer to God. I didn’t resonate with some of my colleagues who said they needed devotional time separate from study time. For me, they were one and the same. Is not His Word one and the same whether we’re reading it devotionally or studying it rigorously? And…can we not challenge the false dichotomy of that previous question? Warfield is right. Study IS an act of prayer and devotion. Amen.

    (Do you have the references for those quotes, btw?)

  11. Mike says:

    Ditto what Zac asked: Could you please let us know where these quotes are cited from?

  12. David says:

    The book “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” by R.C. Sproul is a good book of doctrine to use as a devotional. It is broken into 102 chapters of 2 to 3 pages each. Each chapter covers one topic. I found it helpful to read a chapter and then use that topic as a springboard for prayer and praise.

  13. I can certainly agree with Lewis, but not with Warfield. The Holy Spirit, when I am on my knees, will generally remind me of the truth I have learned from the doctrine of God’s Word , before He applies it to my heart in devotion.

  14. Yes, sorry, I misread Warfield. If he were here he would no doubt accept my honest apology. He was refuting the incorrect statement rather than making it. Quite right too.

  15. Kevin says:

    No doubt about it. I can think of no better way to rejoice in The Lord than to know this Lord I should (could) be rejoicing in!

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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