The Tragedy of Christian Bookstores

Why do Christian Bookstores make me thoroughly depressed every time I go in them? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, while doing some driving to pick up some groceries, I went to a little shopping center that has a Christian bookstore in it that I shall leave unnamed. I thought maybe there was some opportunity I could find to serve in a place like that or something on a bulletin board in there that would indicate something I could do.

Unfortunately, what I saw when I went in was absolutely tragic.

To begin with, I see a salesperson from there talking to a retired pastor as I find out in conversation and what are they talking about? Blood moons. The pastor is wanting to buy a book about blood moons and from the conversation I heard, it sounds like he buys into it entirely. Of course, I have pointed to an excellent resource on this already.

The great irony here is that in the midst of the conversation between the pastor and the salesperson, the salesperson also being in ministry, it was said that there were too many people in churches who were growing fat off of the flock and fleecing them for all they were worth.

Kind of like blood moons.

When I got to talk to the salesperson there, I offered my help in Christian apologetics if ever the need arose. I was told I’d be contacted to which I said “Won’t you need my contact information if you’re going to contact me?” I’m quite sure that while I wrote it out for him, it was either ignored or promptly thrown out. Who needs this stuff? We have blood moons!

I am quite confident of a number of things with this.

#1-John Hagee will be shown to be wrong again.

#2-John Hagee provided he is still alive will write another book on prophecy.

#3-John Hagee will not confess any wrong in the past on misleading the people with past theories.

#4-The church will still eat it up and refer to him as an expert.

What else do we find? A big display on Heaven is for Real. That is another book that I have written about elsewhere. I have a greater concern with this book now that a movie has come out. Colton Burpo, the kid in the book, has entered his teen years from what I understand.

What happens if he stumbles?

There are two ways I can see this happening.

Let’s suppose that he abandons his faith first off. Let’s suppose that peer pressure or sexual temptation or some combination of those two or any other events lead him to apostasize and if asked about this says that it was all the imagination of a small child and he never really believed it. What will happen to all those people who put their hope in Christ based on his testimony? What about all those people who claimed knowledge of what Heaven is like based on his testimony?

Or suppose this scenario. Suppose he ends up doing something like sleeping with a girlfriend. Now he doesn’t abandon his faith per se, but he tells us something like “God said that it was okay if I really love her.”

Keep in mind I don’t want any of this to happen. It’s a tragedy when anyone apostasizes or gives in to sexual sin. I am warning about the danger. However much we put our eggs of trust in the Colton Burpo basket, the more danger we are in if something goes wrong with that.

Unfortunately, you can be sure that when William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, etc. has a new book coming out, these will not be put on front display and everyone encouraged to buy them. No. The apologetics books and serious theology books are going to be buried on some back shelf away from plain sight.

In fact, I was sent a web site with a list of Christian booksellers on it. Now there are some good things from time to time. The Five Love Languages for instance, or Boundaries. Not everything in the bookstore has to be apologetics and I’m not opposed to all Christian fiction, but what else do I see on the list? Heaven is for Real. Blood Moons. Joel Osteen. Not one work by a serious Christian scholar in theology or apologetics is on the list.

Is it any wonder the intellectual growth in the Christian church is stunted. We’ve been feeding them junk food for so long their diets aren’t equipped to handle real meat. At least the church the Hebrews writer wrote to was drinking milk. We’re not even at that level. It would be interesting to see what he would have to say about our churches today if he saw them.

Of course, there’s also the constant witnessing tools and each time it’s some other gimmick whether it be mints in the shapes of crosses or just witness wear. Now if someone wants to buy a T-shirt with a Christian message on it, fine. That at the same time does not constitute evangelism if you wear one. To do evangelism, you have to directly share the Gospel somehow or at least prepare people for the Gospel. Too many of us can think we wear a T-shirt in public and we have done our evangelism.

So I go into these places and I come out depressed. It is apparent why it is that the Christian church is failing. They receive no meat in their diet whatsoever. Some stores might want to sell other books, but to stay in business, they have to give people what they want.

Yet how many of you with children would say “Well if my child wants junk food, that’s the way it is.”

No. You’d seek to change their desires.

How’s it going to happen?

First off, pastors have to start really preaching the Scriptures. A pastor who gets more of their sermon from blood moons than they do from Scripture is a pastor who is a disgrace to the pulpit. You are meant to exegete the text. You are not meant to exegete the newspaper. Of course, a good pastor can be a futurist or a dispensationalist and if you want to touch on current events, fine, but remember the meat of the message MUST come from Scripture.

These pastors will need to be teaching their church serious theology and discernment. They need to be able to let their congregations ask questions. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are not going to prepare our youth for Bart Ehrman in college and neither will they prepare our adults for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, for the latter, they’ll feed a mindset that will make them more prone to the message of these groups.

Now some of you pastors might think “Well I’ll lose a lot of members.” You might. But ask yourself this. Would you rather have twenty people in your church who were thoroughly committed and knew their Bibles well and could make the Christian case, or would you rather have two hundred who just hear what they want to hear and do nothing with it?

Next on the list is parents. Parents should seek to get their children in a church that does really teach Scripture seriously, but even then, you can’t expect the church to do all the work. You need to be teaching your children at home proper tools of thinking. Get them engaged with other worldviews. Don’t isolate them. Don’t just hide them from threats. Teach them how to face those threats. Equip them.

If your children were just eating junk food, you wouldn’t put up with that. You’d do everything you could to make them eat healthy. If you will take care of their physical condition, how much more should you take care of their spiritual condition?!

Unfortunately, Christian bookstores won’t change until Christians say enough is enough. That won’t happen until we get serious about real Christian growth in the church.

Until then, I suspect I’ll be spending more time on Amazon or even secular bookstores. At least secular bookstores don’t know better when they put the holy next to the heretical. Christian bookstores have no such excuse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Heaven Is For Real

Heaven is for real, but is the book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

“And a little child shall lead them!”

Ah, but where shall he lead them?

This is the question and this is the problem that we have. In “Heaven Is For Real” we have the supposed account of a little boy when he was around 4 years old of going to Heaven. This review is not to say anything about all near-death experiences. I will also say some of my information comes from Gary Habermas in my personal communication with him on near-death experiences. Unfortunately, I was unable to reach him prior to this blog for his specific opinion on this account.

One point that Dr. Habermas has made about near-death experiences is that one wants to find out the details of that experience as soon as possible. This did not happen in the case of Colton Burpo, the little boy who purportedly had the experience. It was only months after his surgery that we start hearing anything whatsoever about the details of his visit. While the parents can remain skeptical of where some information could come from, we must remember this is a ministry household and such information that Colton had could have been found.

There are some problems with the account of Colton (He will be referred to by first name and his Dad as Todd to avoid confusion). To begin with Jesus is described as having the marks from the cross in his hands. Yet those who know about the crucifixion know that Jesus had the nails put in his wrists instead of in his hands. Had they gone in his hands, then Jesus would have fallen off of the cross.

We also have the Holy Spirit being seen as incarnate in Heaven. The only instance we have of someone who is a member of the Godhead becoming incarnate is that of Jesus. It is likely we have a dangerous precedent being encouraged here and one that could quite easily lead to a sort of tritheism. Some information that Colton also gives would have been easily known just from reading the Bible. We don’t need a heavenly vision to know that Jesus really loves the children.

What is most dangerous about all of this is that a child is being given the authoritative power to tell us what Heaven is like and rather than interpreting his experiences by the Scriptures, we find that we are interpreting the Scriptures by his experiences. Colton in the book becomes an authority to people on what Heaven is like all based on a vision. If we are to follow visions like this, perhaps we should also follow that of Joseph Smith or any other number of people who have visions.

What really happened to Colton? I cannot say. It could be that he did have some sort of experience but it kept being added to. I don’t really know. Some might say “Maybe God gave a vision that would be fitting for a child.” While this is possible, the problem is much of this information would have been deceptive for a child and given not an incomplete view but rather given an inaccurate view. Of course one can speak to children, but we will still try to be accurate.

Note I am also not giving any view to Colton that would imply something immoral necessarily on his part. I do not know what happened, but I know that there are problems with this book. I do not question that Heaven is real in a sense, but I do question the validity of what Colton has said. There are problems with a near-death experience when events only come out months later rather than immediately as there is plenty of time for elaboration.

Readers are invited to stick to more authoritative sources.

In Christ,
Nick Peters