Homo Unius Libri

The above Latin phrase means a man of one book and is attributed to Thomas Aquinas. He believed that a man who studied one book well was one to be feared. What book specifically I’m unsure as Thomas Aquinas was a scholastic and therefore studied many books. John Wesley the great circuit-riding preacher was where I actually first heard it.

I guess that Thomas Aquinas and John Wesley had something different in mind when that phrase was used. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll highlight Wesley’s approach.

From the very beginning, Wesley was a man of the book. From the earliest stages of his life to the latter end his life and ministry centered around the BOOK. A circuit-riding Methodist preacher he preached in the open air. It is said that in his lifetime Wesley had traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback and preached over 40,000 sermons and wrote over 6,500 hymns. No slouch as far ministry was concerned. If my memory serves me right he only traveled with a hymn book and his Bible.

He is quoted as saying:

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!

Wesley’s inspiration and strength for ministry were found in his love for the word of God.

Before moving on and the nature of this post be misunderstood let me ask, Can a man not read other books and be so inspired to learn and grow by them. Can he not go to a publick library and pick up a book on philosophy, science or ancient history and learn and grow through the knowledge gleaned from their pages? Of course, he can! John Wesley did read other books. Many of the notable preachers of yesteryear were voracious readers, and their ministries bore testimony to this. Spurgeon while dogmatically for the Bible was a well a read man. Just read any number of his sermons and you’ll see what I mean.

There seems to be a growing anti-intellectual sentiment and not just in the arena of the church, but culturally as well. We have come a long way from the earliest years of our nation’s founding where the colonists spent their time reading, talking about religion, politics and trade and such. Take for example Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States strongly emphasized reading diverse genres. For example, in his library, he had books on history, law, philosophy, science and many other subjects.

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson declared in a letter to John Adams on June 10, 1815. Books and reading were a “necessary of life.” [2]

Jefferson’s life and influence are a testament to the benefits of reading good books. He was a strong proponent for an educated populous.

However, in-spite of reading the various types of books, histories, philosophy, the classics, the languages, and such the Bible remained foundational in establishing the conduct and laws of the land.

The founding Fathers and other men of influence in the forming of this great nation, while all good readers, and certainly learned men, understood not only the importance of reading but also the importance of the Bible and the role it played in the formative years of our great nation. Let’s see what these leading men believed concerning the word of God: [1]

Patrick Henry – “The Bible… is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed”

John Jay – “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”

James McHenry – “[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. Without the Bible, in vain do we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions.

Bibles are strong protections. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

Benjamin Rush – “I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.

By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects… It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published.”

Noah Webster – “The moral principles and precepts found in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. “

In taking our example from the highest authority in the land, the word of God, we learn that the Bible wasn’t just an ordinary book, a book written by mere men, but the divinely inspired revelation of God himself to man. It set the foundation morally and spiritually for our land serving as a divine compass to keep a man on track in doing what is right and creating a stable culture. Many of the laws of this land are based on Judeau Christian Law.

Now with regards to the main subject at hand, The Book, our concern should be what God’s word has to say about itself.  Either we have the inerrant, infallible inspired word of God or we don’t.

With probably close to 2,500 + times in the Old Testament alone the writers claimed that it was the word of words of God. Jesus Christ himself quoted with authority the Old Testament and further mentioned the writings of Moses, writings, and Psalms without once questioning their veracity. When tempted of Satan Christ said, it is written, it is written, it is written. He didn’t hem and haw or speculate he just said IT IS WRITTEN. He quoted scripture with authority. After all, he is the author.

I believe we should follow his lead in this.

Here are several quotes from various biblical authors and how they viewed the scripture:

Moses Exodus 24:4 “And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD.”

Job – Job 23:12 “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

David – Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Jeremiah the Prophet – Jeremiah 15:16 “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. 30:2 “Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book

Jesus Christ in John 5:39 says to, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are which testify of me.”

Paul the apostle said that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” (2 Timothy 3:16) He further requested that the “books be brought to him, but especially the parchments “(2 Timothy 4:13)

Both the Old and New Testaments not only show the view the various writer’s had but also the preeminent place the word held/holds in the eyes of the Divine Godhead. It would behoove Christians to be a people of one book. The words of men are just that words of men, but the word of God is so much more.

With the emphasis found in scripture on scripture and the place it held in our nation why not strive to be a people of one book, a book that is full of promise, hope and instruction, inspired and preserved for generation upon generation, that our children’s children may study and apply its precepts to their own lives.

A strong nation is built around strong churches and strong churches are built around morally upright strong people, people who are anchored to one book.

Let’s strive to to be a hominum unius libri – People of one book!

[1] https://wallbuilders.com/founding-fathers-jesus-christianity-bible/
[2] https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Jefferson_Thomas_and_Books#start_entry