I came across this interesting exhortation in the Bern Synod of 1532:
Chapter forty: Moderation in reading secular literature
Indeed worldly books, such as histories, may also be read, but with careful discrimination and critical judgment, and with the intention that they be sued to train the intellect and to inform about the nature of the flesh. But fundamentally they serve neither for the improvement of our hearts, nor for the assistance of the congregation. Therefore, all doctrine, admonition, reproof, and correction should come from the Spirit of Christ and divine Scripture, though it may also happen that sometimes with brief words a pagan history might be cited to the congregation, and this we do not refuse. Out hope is that each will remember that he is a steward of the mysteries of Christ, and a servant of His Spirit, and accordingly will make more use of spiritual writings than of carnal. The ministers of the canton are sadly not all too industrious, yet we view this caution as not without cause.
What do you think? What is the place in the Christian life for “worldly books” or “pagan history”? How should we think about fiction? Is it profitable, harmful, or just a waste of time?
Quote from: compiled with introductions by James T. Dennison, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: Volume I, 1523-1552 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 271.
(By: Nick Kennicott)