Christian magazines/booksgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Bethany Bible College : One Thread
On another thread, one person said, "Authors of popular Christian books have picked up on this formula and are burying us with books about personal finance, happy marriages, and beating depression, weight loss and all the rest of this ego centered goo, ad infinitum ad nauseum. They write the same fluff that one finds in Readers Digest and The Ladies Home Journal--only they sprinkle it with Bible verses and get away with calling it Christian literature. I'm not surprised that some Christians almost gag when they begin browsing through Christian bookstores. "
Rather than pollute the Yancey thread with a discussion on Christian publications in general, I thought I would respond via a new thread.
Why is it that so many fundamentalists are 'offended' when someone offers good, practical information to the Christian community without preaching the gospel? What God-fearing parent would be opposed to having a magazine concerning finances, recipes, opinions, movie reviews, etc. lying around the house that DID NOT carry un-Godly advertisments? So what if there are no devotions in the book? Devotions are available elsewhere.
Again, it appears that some people would prefer to have Christians act as though the ONLY thing that deserves attention is their Christianity or someone else lacking it. Personally, I value a good financial article from a successful businessman who has a track record of teaching others to be 'good stewards' or a book for Christians about what to think of Y2K, etc. MORE Christians need to be reading about what it takes to be in a successful Christian marriage and you only have to look around to see that more pastors and laymen need to do some reading on staying in touch with their teens today.
Frankly, ignorance has a large price. It would do well for more people to do some reading. And if that reading can possibly come from a Christian author with a Christian perspective,
-- Tony Rush (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 10, 1999
There's nothing wrong with an occasional book on finances or happy marriages--as long as they stay out on the fringe where they belong. Right now they are not on the fringe, but on center stage. Jesus did not die to keep us from bankruptcy and divorce. Could you visualize the Apostle Paul coming into Corinth or Ephesus preaching on happy marriages and financial security, or on beating depression? Instead of being run out of town, he probably would have been given his own radio talk show. Fortunately for the world he decided to preach "Christ and Him crucified and nothing else" (cf 1 Cor. 2:2). He could have made more money preaching "the other stuff," as "the other stuff" is what interests most people. He could have given the crowd "what they wanted"--advice to solve their immediate worldly concerns. But he didn't. He stuck to his message. To this I can only say Amen.
-- Ralph Filicchia (email@example.com), May 11, 1999.
I think what really needs to be in this area is balance. I have been following a similar thread on the Microsoft Network, and there have been many disturbing statements offered by both Christian and non-Christian.
I agree totally with the brother that the Gospel is what we should offer. It is our primary function. But at the same time, we cannot be ignorant of what is going on in life. From what I have been reading, non-Christians perceive us as uneducated ostriches with our heads buried in biblical sand and out of touch with reality. And in certain aspects, they are right.
It is one thing to be out of touch with a sinful society or culture. We often hear the phrase "in the world, but not of the world." I think that is still valid. But we cannot be out of touch with everyday realities. A Christian has to balance a checkbook the same as a non-Christian. Physics applies to a believer as well as a non-believer. Certain principles are true regardless of one's theological viewpoint.
The Apostle Paul was a mighty theologian, but he was also a man with both feet firmly on solid earth. Because he was highly educated, and had a firm grasp of the everyday realities around him, he was able to make his claims for the Gospel credible. His challenge to the philosophers on Mars Hill were accepted because he was a deliberate, intelligent mature individual who used sound reasoning in his life and in his presentation of the Gospel. No where in Acts do we find Paul advocating the separatist attitudes presented by some modern Christians.
I personally think that some of the "Christian" magazines and books out there are shoddy and produced only to make a buck. The irresponsibilities of publishing houses is a different problem, however. We must vote against mediocre material with our wallets -- simply do not support it. But concerning whether or not a Christian should be an informed, mature human being, there is no doubt that it is an imperative. The church constantly "shoots itself in the foot" because it over emphasizes the spiritual at the expense of the physical. Jesus met physical and spiritual needs simultaneously while He was here. To abandon an understanding of what it takes to live in everyday reality smacks of asceticism, which we as non-Roman Catholics have rejected. We must reclaim the lost areas of reality. But unlike the rest of the world, we can see reality correctly through the clarifying filter of Scripture. That is what the messages in the magazines and books should be.
-- Dr. Jon F. Dewey (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 02, 1999.
Some interesting comments, Dr.Dewey, but I question whether the Apostle Paul was listened to because he was educated, etc. I am sure you will recall that he insisted he did not preach the gospel with "the enticing words of man's wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:4)because he knew that "the world by wisdom could not know God" (cf 1 Cor. 1:21). And as far as the world looking at us as "uneducated ostriches with our heads in the sand"...what the heck, these people are religious clowns who don't know their ass from their elbow anyway. I laugh at them and chop them up in little pieces whenever they speak out publicly on religious issues, such as in letters to the editor, or on radio talk shows. Making fools of them is rather easy, especially when they start telling us what God thinks on the issues. Ninety percent of the time they haven't the faintest idea of what they are talking about. They are the ostriches--not me. And I make sure I let them know it while I am deriding them. If there's one thing a worldling can't stand it's ridicule.
-- Ralph Filicchia (email@example.com), December 04, 1999.
I originally wasn't going to say anything, but the more I thought about it, I started to believe I had to. Brother, I have two comments to make in love. One, you misunderstood my primary point, which was to point out the need for maturity in all things, and two, I cannot agree with your attitude.
Points for clarification:
>>Some interesting comments, Dr.Dewey, but I question whether the Apostle Paul was listened to because he was educated, etc. <<
The specific instance I am speaking of was Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-33). Paul actively engaged his knowledge of local and cultural affairs to use their own misunderstanding of God as a launching point for sharing the Gospel. Paul was respected by the unbelieving community for his knowledge and learning. While his views did appear to be a novelty to them, I dont think Paul would have been invited to speak if his eloquence wasnt already acknowledged.
>>I am sure you will recall that he insisted he did not preach the gospel with "the enticing words of man's wisdom" (1 Cor. 2:4)because he knew that "the world by wisdom could not know God" (cf 1 Cor. 1:21). <<
I cannot argue with you there, because it is scripture. However, it doesn't mean he still didn't try. The preaching of the Gospel is foolishness to those who perish, but we as still commanded to preach the Gospel.
>>And as far as the world looking at us as "uneducated ostriches with our heads in the sand"...what the heck, these people are religious clowns who don't know their ass from their elbow anyway. I laugh at them and chop them up in little pieces whenever they speak out publicly on religious issues, such as in letters to the editor, or on radio talk shows. Making fools of them is rather easy, especially when they start telling us what God thinks on the issues. Ninety percent of the time they haven't the faintest idea of what they are talking about. They are the ostriches--not me. And I make sure I let them know it while I am deriding them. If there's one thing a worldling can't stand it's ridicule. <<
When did it become the task of the believer to ridicule or make fools out of unbelievers? Did scripture change, and suddenly we were allowed to be sarcastic and belittling? My Bible tells me: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Col. 4:6). This verse, and 1 Tim. 2:2, tells me that I am to act maturely, peaceably, with my speech reflecting that maturity and also reflecting my relationship with Christ. I am also supposed to discern from my situation the best way to share the Gospel with a particular person I am sharing with.
The primary audience on this bulletin board is if I am not mistaken those who are ministers of the Gospel or those who are in training to be ministers of the Gospel. So the words of 1 Tim. 4:2 are in order here: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. This is what the Apostle Paul did. He set an example of maturity for all to follow. I think we need to stop trying to win arguments, and start setting the right example. The world is in darkness. Only the light of Christ will do anything about it. Ridicule only pushes them away from the truth. We need to live the example of Paul (and Jesus). We arent trying to prove we are right and they are wrong. We are trying to display that the God who created them loves them enough to send His Son to die on a Cross so they can be returned to a right relationship with Him. And that is partially accomplished through how we live our lives: maturely and as if Christ really mattered.
-- Dr. Jon F. Dewey (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 04, 1999.
Concerning the question: Since when did it become the job of believers to ridicule unbelievers, etc. I suggest those interested check out a fellow named Elijah in 1 Kings 18:27 I half expected someone to come up with the usual "since when have we been called to..." line. Well, we have not been called to protest partial birth abortions--but we do that! We have not been called to keep prayer in the public schools--but we do that! We could go on and make quite a list here. We might not have been called to make fools of unbelievers in public debate...but when it is done in a powerful manner it can win to your point of view those third parties who are listening. People respect a solid argument. They do not respect someone who whimpers on the sidelines "God loves you."
-- Ralph Filicchia (email@example.com), December 07, 1999.
Thank you for your clarification, but it does not negate my original posting. And please don't take this as a criticism of you personally, brother, because it is not meant to be. What my intent was to make a correction on what I perceive as a widespread problem in the modern church: improper, unloving attitude by believers.
Taken in the context of the 1 Kings reference you gave, certain forms of sarcasm and ridicule can be an effective technique in showing the folly of unbelief. That is a good thing. What is not a good thing is when the individual believer develops a LIFESTYLE of sarcasm and ridicule, constantly poking a caustic tongue at persons/ institutions/ beliefs. We have seen these individuals in our churches (usually at business meetings). They state their opinions without love or concern for others. Rather than correcting unbelief, unbelievers (and believers as well) are repelled because of the unpleasant nature of the speaker. This is what I am warning of.
It is my conviction that the attitude of the modern believer must be that of Christ - humble, meek, and mature. Not all OT prophets acted as brash as Elijah did in this passage. He himself did not act that way all the time. We must be careful to not base our entire personality on one section of Scripture. Again, Elijah acted this way to prove a point, not as a personality trait. (For those of you so inclined, we should not use the example of OT prophets to base our lives on, because theirs is not our dispensation.) Our example is from the NT, which is quite clear (1 Thess. 4:1-12, as well as those stated above, and other places). While we are allowed a wide variety of instructional techniques, our personalities are not to be so obnoxious that the message is obscured (1 Cor. 10:32-33).
I do definitely agree that our message should never be simply "God Loves You" and nothing else. Our modern society is as corrupt and pagan as Paul's was in the Roman Empire. We ARE called to be salt and light in this perverse generation. But we also are called to do it in love, not self-righteousness or in religious pride.
-- Dr. Jon F. Dewey (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.
There is no lifestyle of sarcasm here, no self-righteousness, no pride. And the guy you mentioned at the business meeting would repel me as much as he would repel you. In the proper situation and atmosphere I can be just as placid and loving as the next guy. But when the "Other Guy" comes storming at me with his sarcasm and self-righteousness in an attempt to ridicule what I believe--then I see nothing wrong with taking him down a peg or two in the same manner in which he is coming at me. I see no reason for being an intellectual doormat for every big mouth who walks by. I am proud of what I believe and feel that I should "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 1:3).
-- Ralph Filicchia (email@example.com), December 08, 1999.