Posts Tagged ‘False Teachings in Christian Bookstores’

(revised 11/29/13)

As a lover of books – particularly Christian books – I am always fascinated by the goings-on in the world of Christian publishers. Unfortunately, in recent years it seems many Christian publishers have become anything but truly born again Christian.

Below I have reposted a 2009 article by Jim Fletcher, exposing many Emerging/Emergent heresies of “Christian” publishers. Click here for the original source of this article. (I realize this article is outdated – I am looking for more recent articles on “Christian” publishers.)

Tales from the Christian dark side

Posted: 19 Sep, 2009 By: Jim Fletcher

Last week I opined that the Christian book industry should overlay its business model with the Spirit of God – an unusual topic for a column on publishing, but it is my conviction. The industry’s failure to do so is a prime reason it’s floundering.

When the Christian book world allows authors and publishers into the mix, even when they espouse heretical concepts, it is sowing the seeds for the Christian publishing industry’s collapse. In other words, if theological integrity is not maintained, failure is sure to follow.

For many years, the Christian Booksellers’ Association has allowed vendors who do not have a Christian worldview to display at conventions. Many dozens of books with heretical themes have now flooded into the stores around the country. Few in power seem to care, because if “The Shack” is being sold down the street at a big-box retailer, then, well, we have to sell it, too.

The resulting change at CBA events is astonishing.

For example, two weeks ago at the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Zondervan had its usual, large presence. The Grand Rapids-based publisher produces a large number of mainstream titles each year and is perhaps best known for its Bibles. What many “average” Christians do not know is that for 20 years, Zondervan has been owned by the gigantic New York house, Harper Collins.

When a Christian publisher is bought out by a large secular company, it is not possible for the formerly Christian-owned entity to decide for itself just how Christian it will be. Profit and loss become the all-consuming drivers.

At Zondervan, for every Anne Graham Lotz, there are 10 others who practice a center-left Christianity. Gary Burge, the Wheaton professor who routinely criticizes Israel and champions the allegedly downtrodden Palestinians, has little in common with conservative readers.

The same issue is at stake with other Zondervan authors like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, both of whom seek to redefine Christianity away from its biblically orthodox foundation.

At ICRS, I happened by the large Zondervan booth and noticed that HarperOne, an imprint of Harper Collins, was connected to the Zondervan space. HarperOne publishes a wide range of books on spirituality. They are as comfortable publishing the Dalai Lama as they are Billy Graham.

HarperOne has a richly pluralistic stable of authors, including the mystic Thomas Merton, John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong and Omid Safi (“Memories of Muhammad”).

Let me show you an example of a connection between unorthodox Christians and the evangelical world:

Several years ago, Zondervan published the “NIV Men’s Study Bible.” In that book, editors had inserted some remarks of Merton’s as a “devotional.”

Merton, the Catholic-Buddhist who died in 1968, stated: “Sin is the refusal of spiritual life.”

No, it isn’t.

If sin is the refusal of spiritual life, then there have been billions of sinless people throughout history, an idea completely at odds with Christianity.

Another example of the business model directing Christian publishers is the runaway success of Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life.” When a book hits those kinds of numbers (what is it now, 30 million sold?), there is no possibility that author will never write another book. What actually happens is that editorial boards sit around and come up with new themes, new gimmicks. That’s why you see “journals” and “workbooks” that spin off hot sellers like “Your Best Life Now.”

The new ancillary products aren’t released necessarily because they are useful to consumers. They are merely product, something to be sold. The publishers latch onto a hot theme and then milk more profits from consumers.

Profit and revenue become the agenda. But do we worship God or mammon?

This syncretic approach is diluting biblical truth in America.

Unfortunately, another element in the pipeline, the bookstores, are just as guilty.

It fascinates me that Christian book stores are struggling mightily to stay open, yet they almost contemptuously sideline large markets. For example, a few days ago, I visited with the head of a large ministry focused on apologetics.

This person told me, “Our constituency doesn’t want books on marriage relationships, or how to raise kids – those things that fill the shelves of stores today. Instead, they want what we are offering.”

This ministry has 150,000 names on its database.

It is interesting to me, then, that many stores do not cater to these people. The question is, why? Why would stores marginalize a large affinity group out there? The answer must be that there is a general dislike of truly conservative biblical views among the mainstream in the Christian book industry.

For many stores, if a publisher makes an effort to promote conservative books and comes up with initiatives to really help the store push that product, the reply is more often than not a polite “drop dead.” Instead, the goal is to put another floor display of Rick Warren books in the store.

And speaking again of Warren, he is a prime example of where mainstream Christianity is heading: pluralism. Warren, who chatted cheerily with the Syrian killer Bashar Assad a few years ago and recently spoke at an Islamic conference, is part of the new breed of Christian leaders who freely fellowship with unbelievers.

Several years ago at a convention, I was talking with a salesman for a CBA publisher. He told me that a few weeks before, he had presented product to buyers at two separate Christian store chains.

One buyer told him she thought the Bible was nothing more than myth; the other openly challenged the idea that Adam and Eve were real people.

Needless to say, people are free to believe what they want to believe. But Christian buyers, one would think, should reflect traditional Christian views.

These are some of the reasons that Christian retail stands on the brink of real heartbreak, as stores close and publishers downsize.

Because CBA has no mechanism to research the motives of authors and publishers – and not only has no desire to do so, but is colluding with syncretic elements – it is losing its power.

As I’ve said before, as these outlets try to pay the light bill and prepare to shiver in the dark void, there are alternate book sources ready and eager to supply the millions of American Christians who revere the Word of God. WND and Lighthouse Trails, for example, are growing by leaps and bounds, as God-fearing Americans prepare to face profound changes in our culture.


Joel, We Support Christian Publishing Houses but Whom do They Support? (10/02/09)

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Update:  I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
The Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) is a Region of the EFC-NA, when belongs to the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination. I was reading through the NWYM document entitled “Faith Expressed as Doctrine.” It seems biblical for the most part. The wording sounds a bit awkward at points, but on most points it strikes me as well grounded. For example, consider the following:

Human Redemption: We believe that God created the human being, male and female, in His own image; but that when Adam and Eve fell from a state of holy obedience, the human race lost a perfect relationship to God, and self instead of the Creator became the center of life. Through the blood of Christ our Savior we may be recovered from the fall and made right (justified) before God. To those who put their faith in Christ, God offers forgiveness of sins, regeneration of affections and actions, and final glorification of the resurrected body.

Here are the doctrinal points covered in the document:

1. God as Creator
2. God’s Revelation in Christ
3. God’s Revelation by the Spirit
4. God’s Revelation in the Scriptures
5. Human Redemption
6. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
7. The Church
8. God’s Kingdom
9. The Spiritual Experience
10. Worship

Recently, NWYM has struck me as being the most theologically liberal, “progressive evangelical”, Emerging/Emergent Region in the EFCI. Yet their doctrinal statement above sounded so biblical… I began looking over other parts of the NWYM website, to see if the beliefs expressed there match their doctrinal statement.

I perused the Books and Videos Catalog, at the following link: http://nwfriends.org/resources/catalogs/

Clicking on a few links, I then ended up at: http://www.librarything.com/profile/nwfriends

Here are the categories of books and videos:

Children’s Ministry (77)
Christian Education and Discipleship (113)
Congregational Care (129)
Discernment Resources (21)
Elders (30)
Finance and Stewardship (13)
Global Outreach (57)
Leadership Development and Enrichment (105)
Local Outreach (34)
Peacemaking (44)
Quakerism (31)
Recording Reading List (67)
Spiritual Formation/Classics (76)
Worship Resources (56)
Youth and Young Adult Ministry (196)
All collections (572)

After looking over this list, I then perused the titles under Spiritual Formation/Classics (there are a total of 76 titles). I found the following titles (among many others that I would consider far from evangelical, born again Christian):

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, by Richard J. Foster

Christian Educator’s Handbook on Spiritual Formation, The, by Kenneth O. Gangel

The Deeper Life: An Introduction to Christian Mysticism, by Louis Dupre

Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality, by Margaret Silf

Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith,
by Catherine Stonehouse

Labyrinth [a portable labyrinth kit]

Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Reimagining Spiritual Formation: A Week in the Life of an Experimental Church, by Doug Pagitt

The Shack, by William P. Young

Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, by Richard J. Foster

Thoughts In Solitude, by Thomas Merton

The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers,
by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Wellsprings: A Book of Spiritual Exercises, by Anthony De Mello

When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer,
by Jan Johnson

Zen and the Birds of Appetite, by Thomas Merton

The above looks like a booklist from a liberal/mainline church library (such as that of the United Methodist Church, or the Episcopalians, or  the United Church of Christ). Nope, this booklist is from the supposedly born again, biblically sound Northwest Yearly Meeting.

QUESTION: Why does the Northwest Yearly Meeting have these titles in their lending library? The answer in my mind, is, there is a huge disconnect between “faith” and “practice.” To put it another way, Evangelical Friends in the Northwest Yearly Meeting claim to be walking close to the Lord and following their document entitled “Faith Expressed as Doctrine.” Yet they are incorporating Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings which are far from biblical. Frankly, I wonder if there are any individuals left in the Northwest Yearly Meeting who have not become “progressive evangelicals.”

In a word, the lending library booklist is not just an anomaly. The entire Northwest Yearly Meeting is full of Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Dan Kimball, etc. all have close ties with the Northwest Yearly Meeting, George Fox University, and George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

Few of the books in the Northwest Yearly Meeting lending library would be found in the church libraries of the more biblically sound EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region). Yet the EFC-ER continues to maintain ties with the Northwest Yearly Meeting and the other more liberal/progressive Regions of the EFCI. How can the EFC-ER continue to associate with these Regions without being negatively affected?

The EFC-ER will “lose its soul” theologically if it maintains these associations and accepts teachings such as those promulgated in the above books. In fact, there are already many in the EFC-ER who see no problem with Northwest Yearly Meeting, or George Fox University, or George Fox Seminary, or Richard Foster, or Emergent/Emergent teachings. Regarding the “innocent sheep” in the EFC-ER (particularly in the smaller churches) who are not yet aware of the “Liberal 2.0 transformation” heading their way, I pray that it’s not too late to wake them up…

I’m currently researching the Northwest Yearly Meeting, to learn when they started down this long, slippery slope to apostasy. I’ve found these few bits of info so far:

NORTHWEST Yearly Meeting of Friends Church
<http://www.nwfriends.org/> opened 1893/06 as Oregon Yearly Meeting, set off from the Progressive, now FUM, branch of Iowa Yearly Meeting. It joined in founding FUM in 1902 but withdrew in 1926. It joined in founding EFA in 1965 and the succeeding EFI in 1989…  Ralph K. Beebe, A Garden of the Lord: A History of Oregon Yearly Meeting of Friends Church (1968), contains histories of nearly all monthly meetings established in the first 75 years.

Source: https://www.quakermeetings.com/Plone/yearlymeetings

My question is: were the Northwest Yearly Meeting and/or the other Regions already headed down the road to apostasy when they joined the EFA in 1965? Or did they “turn bad” after that point? And if they were already becoming liberal/apostate, why did the born again, biblically sound Ohio Yearly Meeting  join with them in forming the EFA?

Finally, it does not appear that the EFCI (or the EFC-ER) are going to turn from Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings. After striving in vain to persuade various individuals (in various denominations), I have come up with the following Summary Statement:

We want these things to stop being taught in our denominations, to cease completely. And with the eternal destiny of so many souls at stake, we will not take “no” for an answer. Either the churches stop teaching these things, or we will plead with their members to LEAVE, to “run for your life” as Carter Conlon so movingly put it. It’s as simple as that.

Click here for a step by step guide to leaving an apostate church and locating a biblical church.

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