Thursday, May 14, 2015

Recommendations from the Lost?

My friend James recently posted this sentence on Facebook, "I long to see on the back of Christian books praise for the book from pastors/authors/scholars from traditions outside the author's." I read that and then mulled it over for awhile and then I responded, "Why?" I could not for the life of me see any good reason.

After a bit, he saw my response and wrote this,  "Because I just don't want us high-fiving the people in our own tribe saying, "We are so awesome." I want to get better at quoting people outside my tradition. If I only quote people inside my tradition, how will I ever reach people outside my own?

Think about how impactful it would be if an atheist endorsed a Christian book--not because they agreed with some or even all. But they found it to be winsome, honest, respectful, and thought provoking. Atheists would read it."

Well, I thought through his response and here is what I concluded:

First of all, I am not really interested in what other people outside of my "tradition", let alone atheists think about why I may have written. If they are incorrect in their evaluation, theology, or conclusions, then why would it matter to me if they endorsed my conclusions? Of course that begs the question, would they? Or really, why would they?

Second, one of the toughest jobs a pastor has today is combating all the confusing and false teaching that is so prevalent today. The so-called "Christian publishers" no longer are concerned about truth. The bottom line for them is "will it sell?"  For example, how else do you explain a publisher or "holy hardware" store selling one book that says all miraculous gifts have ceased and the book next to it says grab up all the miraculous gifts you can get today? 

I am very careful with my quotes in my messages. I don't want to be a vehicle for confusion for my people. I don't want to lend credibility to someone or someone's tradition if the majority of it is incorrect. I want to both shield my people and warn my people about incorrect or unbiblical traditions. Especially atheistic writings and traditions.

Third, I do agree that most of the book jacket recommendations in my own tradition are nothing more than mindless gushings designed to sell the book. Rarely does a book jacket give honest evaluation and information about either the author or the book itself. I do think we should clean up our act in that respect.

Fourth, as far as reaching people outside of my tradition with book jacket quotes, I have this to say. Direct conversation or correspondence seems to be a better method than hoping someone will read my book because someone outside of my tradition gave a good one-liner of praise for it. I also think that God can sovereignly and supernaturally reach anyone with whatever methods He chooses. I know that God could use a book jacket recommendation to draw someone to him. I don't want to rely on it as a method for evangelism.

Fifth, he makes a very interesting statement in the last part of his post, "think about how impactful it would be if an atheist endorsed a Christian book--not because they agreed with some or even all. But they found it to be winsome, honest, respectful, and thought provoking. Atheists would read it."

Would they? Would atheists really read a Christian book if another atheist attested to its honest, respectful and thought provoking message? Again, with God anything is possible. However, the atheist loves darkness and refuses to come to the light, lest his evil and dark deeds be exposed. I doubt an atheist or any sinner is going to be interested in reading a truly Christian book because someone concluded that the book was thought-provoking or honest.

Sixth, and probably more important, I don't think this mindset is in line with the thinking of Christ. Do we really want the lost, the atheists, and agnostics praising us or our works? Do we really want or need the world to give recommendations on our theology? Christ warned the disciples about the praise of men when He said, "Woe, unto you when all men shall speak well of you..." (Luke 6:26).

When the lost begin to speak well of my message and my theology I had better take a long hard look at what I am preaching or "writing." I am not saying we need to be or should be rude, crude, or obnoxious, but the lost cannot discern spiritual things or spiritual truth. So, how can they make an evaluation of the "honesty or thought provoking" manner or material? Why would I want to be winsome anyways? Spiritual truth is serious not whimsical or winsome.

Thanks for reading. Just some musings and thoughts on a recent Facebook post.

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Well said or should I sayn written Gregg. I agree with you wholeheartedly.