Friday, November 12, 2010

Sub-Christian "Christian" Teachings

This week I bought a couple of books from the "super bargain" selections at a Christian bookstore. One seems to be an excellent book. As for the other, since it was a year-old hardback being sold new for a dollar, I guess I should have suspected that there was something seriously wrong with it.

It's from a well-known Christian publisher, with an author who has a Master of Divinity degree from a respected, conservative seminary. The author is one of the founders of a graduate school. That all sounds good, but...

The book's introduction says, "There are three core premises that will be engaged throughout this book. It will be immensely helpful for you to consider these assumptions as you enter the rest of this labor...." It then lists them...and every one of them is theologically suspect.

How do such books get published? The answer is simple. Many "Christian" publishers are more eager to sell books than they are to promote truth. Some authors and editors of "Christian books" aren't true Christians at all. I can't say whether this author is a Christian, but I can say that he did not write a Christian book. He wrote a book that's badly twisted in its teachings.

May the Lord give us discernment to look past the good exterior and to see lies for what they are.


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Christian books are anathema for the reason you state, "Many Christian publishers are more eager to sell books than they are to promote truth." I say the same about Christian authors. They are more interested in seeing the names in print than that the Word of God should be glorified and believed. This is not denominationally biased. I see Orthodox books that should not be taking up space on the shelves of a Christian bookstore as well as books by authors of other affiliations.

I also consider blasphemous against the Word of God, the publication of all those specialist bibles geared to a small segment of people, and published sometimes in a format that not only blasphemes the Word but drags it down to the gutter with other literature. For example, New Testaments that mimic the look and feel of schoolgirl magazines. Is this ridiculous or what: "Wild About Horses Bible"?

Then there's such titles as "Joyce Meyers' Everyday Life Bible"... How is it possible that a Christian personality cult figure like Joyce Meyer has the nerve and blasphemous attitude to put her name on the Word of God? And it's a woman yet, who should not even be teaching (although if a man bought this edition, I would be very sorry for him).

The Word of God is the precious, only divine scripture on earth, for which, and to which, people have given their lives, the only source for our knowledge of the Truth, and yet it is being blasphemed like this, and then as if this weren't bad enough, Christian books crowd it out. People would rather read Joyce Myers, Bishop Jakes, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Max Lucado, Rick Warren, and on and on. How can books with titles like "Knowing Aslan", "The Hole in Our Gospel", and "The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn't Exist" be classified as Christian?

Sorry, brother, because I know I have crossed the line, but your post is just the tip of an iceberg that has the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ frozen and inaccessible inside it.

If every church and every Christian would suddenly stop promoting and reading "other books" and even "specialised bibles" and went back to reading only the Bible as it is (I don't care what version as long as it doesn't add anything more to it than cross-references), and reading it every day, there would be a revival that no pastor or ministry could lay his claim to, as if he started it.

All we can do is nothing worth. Only the works of God are good.

As Martin Luther wrote, "Everyone not ceaselessly busy with the Word of God must become corrupt," so we have the Christians of today.

God help us, because there is no other help. Lord, have mercy.

Jim Swindle said...

Thank you, my brother Romanós. I'm not sure that all study Bibles with the editor's name are symptoms of pride, but I'd be very reluctant to have one under my name. The specialty Bibles (for everyone, it seems, except left-handed knitters) are a symptom of people thinking that the power is in the presentation, instead of in the Lord and his word. I'm in favor of attractive presentations, but the Bible I used as a young believer had outdated script letters on the ugly bright-orange dust jacket. The Lord used it anyway, to work in me. It wasn't aimed at a particular group; had text and cross-references and translational footnotes, but that was it.

Your comment has caused me to resolve to read fewer Christian books and to read more of the Bible more consistently.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Thanks for being moderate in your response, brother. I confess I am anything but moderate when it comes to this issue. I think it is because of the great pain I have experienced through my best friend who has to endure (because of family affiliation and upbringing) the kind of church which is completely given over to pandering to the flesh. Churches of the reform are supposed to be Sola Scriptura, and though most of them are according to their mission statements, they do not live up to this at all.

And here am I, considered an idolator by some because I venerate ikons and gold-covered gospels, or at least as somehow deficient in my faith because I am Orthodox and not enlightened by the (evangelical) truth, and yet I allow nothing, not church, not the church fathers, not even a cup of mocha, to enter with me when I go in to meet Jesus in His precious Word. Lord, have mercy.

Jim Swindle said...

Romanós, you have put your finger on something major. Many (most?) of the Orthodox in America and many (most?) of the Evangelicals in America are cultural Christians, not real Christians. I see things even in my own church that grieve me. Then I look inside myself, and much of what I often see grieves me.

We need to meet with the Lord around his Word. We need to obey what he tells us. We can only do any of this correctly by his mercy, through the power of his Spirit.

Bee's Blog said...

I quote: "and this And it's a woman yet, who should not even be teaching"

Are you referring to Joyce Meyers or women in general and if the latter, I ask "why should women not be teaching the word of God?" Where is that written? You don't know that women made up a great part of Jesus's ministry?

Jim Swindle said...

Bee, I believe Romanós was thinking of 1 Timothy 2:12. Here it is in the ESV.
"I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." See also 1 Corinthians 14:33-34.

There were women in the early church who prophesied. I really don't want to go into a long debate here. Some godly women have been Christian teachers--teachers of men--, but the general rule of scripture is clear that the men should do the teaching. The fact that men and women have different roles doesn't make one sex superior to the other in basic value, any more than the Father is worth more (or less) than the Son.

Bee's Blog said...

Thank you Jim.

I'm not going to start a debate but I will just say that some of the greatest teachers in today's seminaries, are women. Certainly in the Roman catholic Church.

Jim Swindle said...

Bee, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I know little of the state of Roman Catholic seminaries today, though I visited St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, IL, decades ago in order to research Martin Luther's views on baptism. :-) In the evangelical world, (Mrs.) Kay Arthur is an excellent Bible teacher. Her teaching goes mostly, but not exclusively, to women. I'm thankful for her work. At the same time, I must affirm the scripture's teaching even when I don't fully understand the reasons behind it.