Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Read with Discernment

I had to step into a Christian bookstore today, I usually try to avoid ghettos of Christian subculture like Christian bookstores, but I needed the book The Reason for God immediately. While I was perusing Don Miller's titles I saw a warning label sticking out of his book Searching for God Knows What. The warning label read "Read with Discernment" and listed this website, http://www.lifewaystores.com/lwstore/discernment.asp. Of all the books to get a "warning label" I couldn't believe they picked this one. Some people just don't like to be stretched intellectually or theologically.

Just for fun, I looked up some BS (biblical stupidity) books about "end-times prophecy" that all Christian book stores have, books about how the Revelation "proves" the end of the world is coming and even though the books are out-of-date in a few years and their "biblical prophecies" never come true, they still sell for some strange reason. One of these books was about the coming of WWIII by John Hagee. Hagee has been known to say publicly that we need to start WWIII to help the rapture come sooner. Link

There was no "read with discernment" warning label on Hagee's book.



Aaron Bonham said...

I heard about this a while back. Those labels are also supposed to be on books by Rob Bell and Brian McLaren. Doesn't shock me though, those stores usually cater to a narrowly defined audience.

I personally find Miller, Bell, and McLaren to be fairly conventional in their thinking, though they hardly toe the line of traditionalist church culture.

Hagee and Tim LaHaye are the authors of modern evangelical political culture though, so they get a free pass. Without them the segment of the population who shops exclusively at stores like Lifeway may not exist or at least may not be so discriminating (wink nudge) in the books they choose to read.

Anonymous said...

Donnie... I'm going to buy the house next to you and turn it into a Christian bookstore!

My first big event will be a book signing with John Hagee. You are invited!

ISCZ said...

It is so refreshing to read comments from a church planter who doesn't mindlessly buy into apocalyptic Christian pop culture. If you wish to learn more about Hagee and his pro-Israel lobby group, CUFI (Christians United for Israel) check out my website: http://www.christianzionism.org.


Donnie Miller said...

Yes, Christian bookstores are simply trying to appeal to their market-niche and the frustrations I have with that "market-niche" is why I avoid Christian bookstores. I'd rather give my money to Amazon. Sure, Amazon isn't "Christian," which is why I hold them to a lower standard. If someone claims to be based in Scritpure, they shouldn't sell Hagee's books. Lifeway won't sell Joel Olsteen, which is also funny. Sure, Joel is "Christianity light" but his teachings are evil, like Hagee and LaHaye's.

Scott, that's one of the funniest comments I've ever read on my blog.

ISCZ, I hope this doesn't sound arogant, because I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I can't buy into the apocalyptic crap because I have a master's degree in theology. I don't see how someone educated in biblical studies could put up with Hagee's twisting and butchering of the bible to fit his "theological" system.
I did a sermon series on Revelation in the summer of 07, you can read or listen to the sermons here; http://www.trinityfamilyonline.com/mcms_page_sermonlist_sort.php?groupby=series

Thanks for everyone's comments!

ISCZ said...

Hi, Donnie,

I'm always interested in hearing from people like you - evangelicals who don't buy the dispensationalist line. I would be interested in reading your sermon series on Rev, but wasn't able to find it on the link you gave. There may be something there I would like to put on my webpage.

I, by the way, am also a pastor, although right now am doing a PhD in World Christianity and Global Mission having also served as the director of our denominational mission program in the Middle East and South Asia (Reformed Church in America) and pastor of international churches in the Arabian Gulf. I have also, however, been in involved in church revitalization programs, most recently a university church in Ann Arbor, MI. So I greatly appreciate church planters like yourself. God bless!

John Hubers
Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism (ISCZ)

Aaron Bonham said...

Scott, due to residential zoning of the neighborhood, thankfully, you won't be able to open your store.

ISCZ (and others), you might be interested in looking up a company called 'Zion Oil' if you aren't aware of them yet. They're an organization trying to raise money from well meaning dispensationalists to drill for oil in Isreal. Apparently, according to this group, my grandfather, and some other acquaintances and relatives of mine, Isreal has the second largest oil reserves in the world. All this is verified in the old testament 'prophecies' in the Bible, despite geological evidence to the contrary. Bizarrely fascinating on so many levels.

ISCZ said...

I'm aware of "Zion Oil" company. Are you also aware of the Texas rancher who has been trying for years to raise a spotless red heifer so they'll have something to sacrifice in the rebuilt Temple? Its funny, yet not funny, as these folks lead many astray from the core commitments of the Gospel related to love for neighbor and justice.

Donnie Miller said...

How did you find my blog? It's amazing enough that people from my church read my blog, even more amazing that people I don't know would read it. But thanks for reading and the kind words.

I'll try the link again. http://www.trinityfamilyonline.com/about-us/sermons/
On this page, sort the sermons by series, go to the Revelation series and click on each individual sermon. Most of the sermons (if not all) should have a manuscript.

ISCZ said...

To help find news items for my website I set a "Google blog" alert for "Christian Zionism" and "John Hagee" and other related search items. Your blog came up with "John Hagee." Which indicates, of course, that you need to be aware that lurkers like me might come along sometime :)

Your note about the dominance of the dispensationalist perspective in Christian bookstores is quite perceptive, by the way. This is the unfortunate truth about folks like Hagee. Their point of view is accepted by a wide section of the evangelical public simply because they aren't aware that there are any alternatives. Every book in Christian bookstores on eschatology, every Christian TV network, every Christian radio station (with very few exceptions) reflects a dispensationalist/Christian Zionist perspective. And because all of these sources make absolute claims ("the Bible says" or "God says") our good Christian folk assume they're getting the Gospel truth.

It may be one of the most powerful propaganda efforts ever mounted - and effective. Thus the need for my website.

David Brush said...

I picked up a used copy of Sex God by Rob Bell yesterday. I plan to read it completely wide eyed and with no mental buffering whatsoever; that way I can just let all of his knowledge pour in so that I don't actually have to think about or be accountable for my own faith. This way I can just live a vicarious theological existence through my favorite authors, and never actually have any original thoughts of my own.
(sarcasm off)

Chris said...

It's funny that you mention John Hagee, as Scott and I went to school with his nephew, Andrew!

I find the topic of dispensationalism quite interesting. I admit that in growing up in the Assemblies of God, this was the theological system that I adopted for most of my life.

A former coworker turned me onto the book The Apocolypse Code by Hank Hanegraaf. I have not read it through and through, but have read through sections.

I am torn on this one. Some parts of the Pretorism system (or partial-Pretorism) seem Biblically sound to me. But some things seem like a big stretch. But enough makes sense to make me doubt the Dispensationalism system in some areas. So, for the time being, I shall be classified as a Dispenpretorist or Pretorsationalist.

ISCZ said...

My own take on this (dispensationalist versus ?) is that whenever we try to fit the Bible into an airtight system we run into problems. It's telling that the godfather of dispensationalism - John Nelson Darby - was trained as an engineer. That's telling as what dispensationalism is an oversystemitized reading of an un-systematiz-able text. Even worse it's using the obscure parts of scripture (apocalyptic) as the hermeneutical key.

Paradox is the critical word when it comes to reading scripture. When you fail to understand that you end up with an "ism."