“Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past . . . because we . . . need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods. . . . A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age."
As the public cacophony of nonsense from our age goes exponential, his words ring true. Lewis used the phrase "chronological snobbery" to describe our affinity to ignore the published works of previous generations, believing ourselves to be more sophisticated and educated. In a nutshell, chronological snobbery is the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You can read more on Lewis's thoughts on the subject here at the C.S. Lewis institute online.
J. I. Packer properly characterizes the arrogant and heretical spirit of our age as:
the newer is the truer,
only what is recent is decent,
every shift of ground is a step forward,
and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.
Chronological Snobbery is not just a problem for the contemporary church. It characterizes virtually the whole of our culture - especially the ruling elite - who foolishly cast off the truth, tradition, wisdom and lessons gleaned from the past. They arrogantly and condescendingly believe they have all the answers, while they force the culture headlong into paganism and barbarism.
While I read through multiple books simultaneously, I always try to be reading at least one ancient book to assimilate the wisdom of those who have gone before us. We can learn from those who were much closer in time to the events of the New Testament.