We have a local Christian bookshop in our country town. I love to support local business as it helps the whole community; keeps people employed, boosts the local economy, and keeps small towns such as this one, well-resourced. Up until recently the book store has been managed incredibly well by a Charismatic Reformed Christian. Every question I asked regarding theology books and theologians, he could answer. Not only did he sell all the usual trashy Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen rubbish which is so highly desired, but he also had an excellent range of solid theology books. Whilst I personally would have preferred to burn all the word of faith and prosperity rubbish, I appreciated the manager’s position.
Recently the manager resigned to move onto bigger and better things and we have a new manager who is also very pleasant. I went into the store only yesterday to pick up a theology book I had ordered and I stopped to browse to buy a book for a friend’s birthday. I could not find one book in the store that I would spend my money on. Not one. I was really grieved, and to such an extent that it ruined my day. Now that may seem like overkill, but let me explain.
A small bookshop that employs three staff has to be viable. They need to make enough money to pay their wages and all of their costs, as well as to make a profit. So in order to do that, they have to sell what is popular. Now this is where the problem lies. The demand for rubbishy self-help, self-esteem building books written by so called Christians, continues to climb, while the demand for good theology books drops. What are we reading? Why do Christians who are interested in theology (and we all should be), have to order their books online? Why should I have to wait weeks to receive a book I’ve ordered when the average Pentecostal Joe can go into their local bookstore (Christian AND secular) and take one of Joel Osteen’s books off the shelf to purchase? We are feeding ourselves rubbish. Reading those books is like eating McDonalds for every meal, every day. Your body might deal with it in the short term, but if any of you have watched Upsize Me, you’ll know how toxic that is, and how deadly it can be. The same goes for reading rubbishy ‘Christian’ books.
I am astounded that heresy sells so well. Any book promoting the good life, wealth, health and success, seems to have the competitive edge. And if a couple of misplaced Scriptures are thrown in for good measure, then it’s going to be a winner in Christian circles. Yet the books that truly help us on our Christian walk, those that warn of a life of suffering, pain and persecution, are rejected. And this is a perfect example of western Christianity. Selfism and humanism have invaded Christianity so much, that many churches and Christians are exactly the same as the world. And we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. We are meant to be different. My local Christian bookshop has gone down the same path as the world. Seeker-friendly, sugary, palatable and easy to digest nonsense that may build our self-esteem, but endanger our souls.