Thinking Out Loud

September 23, 2008

Lifeway Publishing Reveals Its Total Hypocrisy

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:44 am

I am in no way a fan of Lifeway Publishing.   The Southern Baptist curriculum publisher is, in my humble opinion, a giant money-making machine.  They buy up the rights to produce curriculum for many top selling Christian books and brand-name Christian authors, in many ways capitalizing on those authors’ concepts.   They then sell those books through the trade as “short discount” items, giving stores less than half of their usual margin.   Huh?  When is a book publisher not a book publisher?  (And they aren’t the only one, David C. Cook invented the term “programmatic curriculum” so they could short-discount their non-dated curriculum in a similar manner.)

The sales on this stuff are so brisk that when we visited the Lifeway store in Nashville, they had a sales clerk somewhat permanently assigned to the aisle containing their adult curriculum.   Their number one product, the workbook to Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby has sold enough copies to have long-recovered any developmental or research costs.   The ethical thing to do at this point would be to call it — and several others — a regular book publication and drop the short discount.   But if Lifeway has ever debated that possibility, I’ll never know.   They have refused to answer any correspondence I’ve sent them on this issue for about three years.  They’re Baptists.   They don’t have to answer to me.

So it was hard to have any sympathy for Lifeway whatsoever when I saw this story about the company being caught in a classic case of double-speak.  The magazine at left, Gospel Today, got pulled from their retail store shelves because it featured a cover story on — are you sitting down? — female pastors.  Yes, I know a few Bible verses on this subject, also; but this is Lifeway, home of Beth Moore, the Southern Baptist equivalent of Joyce Meyer. (Or is Joyce Meyer the Charismatic equivalent of Beth Moore?)

Here’s how Kentucky writer and blogger Michael Spencer at Internetmonk summed it up so well in this editorial.  I don’t share his biting anti-evangelical rhetoric, but I’ll grant that in this case, the comments are completely well-deserved:

Rereading the story of the story of Lifeway Christian stores pulling from sale a magazine with five female pastors on the cover, I was really overwhelmed with the vacuity of evangelicalism.

At what point is someone allowed to say that in those same Lifeway stores, the #1 selling Bible teaching marterials are the resources published by Lifeway by Beth Moore? When are we supposed to notice the dozens and dozens of Beth Moore books and workbooks? The Beth Moore aisle in most Lifeway stores? When are we supposed to notice that Beth Moore’s materials in Lifeway DWARF any male pastor or teacher? When do we get the exercise in pretzel logic that explains there’s no inconsistency in having a female Bible teacher with an audience larger than any pastor in a denomination that opposes women pastors?

When are we supposed to notice the howling hypocrisy of chattering endlessly about the tragedy and threat of women pastors, but pocketing who knows how much money from Beth Moore’s Bible teaching?

Moore can teach more individual Southern Baptists and in more churches (via video, etc) than any other Bible teacher, but as long as we have our Pharisaical lenses on, it can all be explained as within the boundaries we’ve drawn.

And you wonder why people equate evangelicals with an inability to think critically. It’s this kind of nonsense that makes any pretense to principle comedic. It’s the authority of the Bible….as we creatively construe it.

… If you link to the article, don’t miss the more than 70 comments that have been posted.



  1. i am a pastoral lay minister in training. a male. this is what is wrong with mans rules. if jesus was here he would put his head down and frown. man forgets that is we put our interests first, nothing works well. pride is a terrible thing. i sent an email to the store. man creates his own problems. then blames god. incredible. woman was created to walk alongside man. not behind. any mistreatment of any human being is bad. period. says so in the bible. when we start to interpret things our way, it is truly dangerous.

    Comment by Ray — September 24, 2008 @ 7:23 am

    • Completely agreeing that this article is correct in the hypocrisy of having an entire aisle written by a woman pastor but not being able to feature her face with others on a magazine, I’m a little confused about what you believe are “man’s rules”.

      1 Timothy clearly spells out what to look for in a Pastor/Elder/Bishop (you pick the name it’s all the same position), and also clearly points out who can be a deacon. And in both of those passages they can only clearly point to men.

      If anything is “man’s rules” it’s the allowance of women to be pastors. Now that is not to say that women are not equal to men, they are. But God gave all of us our specific responsibilities in life, and the role of the Shepherd is the man’s role.

      Comment by John O — July 21, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

      • That’s fine as long as you’re willing to allow that some people have studied the scriptures and come up with an entirely different conclusion.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 21, 2014 @ 10:26 pm

  2. […] possibly unrelated story about Lifeway, here. […]

    Pingback by David C. Cook Confirms Broadman & Holman Distribution « Christian Book Shop Talk — November 11, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

  3. […] Related article in this blog:  Lifeway Reveals Its Total Hypocrisy – 09/28/08 […]

    Pingback by Who Exactly Is Teaching The Women in Your Church? « Thinking Out Loud — January 30, 2010 @ 9:57 am

  4. […] Related article:  That other bastion of male headship — the Southern Baptists — caught our attention here exactly two years ago, when the publishing company of female Bible teacher Beth Moore banned distribution of a magazine featuring women pastors. […]

    Pingback by What Canadian Gideons Have in Common With The Catholic Church « Thinking Out Loud — September 18, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  5. All the truth in this article/blog is exactly why I am not attending a Southern Baptist church today, and I was a SBC preacher’s kid. As an author and speaker I’ve never been able to get even a wholesale discount from Broadman/Holman/Lifeway for any book published by them to place on my back-of-the-room booktable. They are the only ones who will not accomodate this type of ministry that I’ve found.

    Comment by Ann Morgan Miesner — September 28, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  6. […] Related post 8.23.08 at Thinking Out Loud Categories: Uncategorized Tags: Broadman, Christian bookstore issues, Christian bookstore management, Christian publishers, Christian publishing, Christian retail, discernment, doctrine, Donald Miller, heresy, historical Christian faith, Holman, Lifeway, SBC, Shaun Groves, Southern Baptist Convention, theology, Thomas Nelson Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]

    Pingback by Lifeway Continues to Show Its Lack of Integrity « Christian Book Shop Talk — October 13, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  7. I have been a Southern Baptist all my life, accepted Christ @ 13, but realized @24 there was a shallowness. A JHU student, Jay Adams suggested I was trying to do it by my self and that I let God do it for me. What a transformation.
    Soon God called me from a job in Experimental Dept of Martin Aircraft to His Ministry less cash greater rewards. Educated- NOBTS and have written for SBC now Lifeway.

    Made many mistakes, but my amazing Savior-God seems to remember and recall the good things. “Ain’t Good good!” Tooo bad his servants can’t recognize thatbmore is accomplished by emphasizing the good and overlooking the mistakes, except when we make them.

    Comment by Gardner C. Koch — January 7, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    • I don’t think they made a “mistake” here. I think they revealed their true corporate character.

      ‘Nuff said.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 7, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  8. […] and websites; an organism about which I’ve already expressed a certain degree of contempt here.  This is the group that believes women should not teach men, but rakes in huge piles of cash […]

    Pingback by Southern Baptists Reject New NIV Translation « Thinking Out Loud — June 17, 2011 @ 5:32 am

  9. do you guys like anybody or is everyone a false teacher or leader

    Comment by george markham — February 25, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    • Part of what we do here at Thinking Out Loud — and especially at Christianity 201 — is to celebrate the great things that are happening in the (capital C) Church. I spend my entire week recommending authors and resources and podcasts and DVDs to people and some of the books I recommend make it into the blog as reviews, though I don’t review a book I haven’t read from cover to cover.

      If there’s something that doesn’t add up however, it needs to be brought to everyone’s attention. So I’ll track a story especially when it’s getting little attention in the Christian blogosphere; and I’ll also drop a story if it’s being picked up by other bloggers and doesn’t need the additional attention here. The link list each Wednesday is an example of things — both positive and negative — available on the Christian sector of the internet.

      Lifeway is generally a particularly sad story that I feel needs continuing attention. Its management needs to be confronted with its spiritual inconsistencies. You’re responding here to an older blog post, but the situation continues to this day, as seen in this more recent story.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 25, 2012 @ 9:51 am

      • Not completely disagreeing with you that a lot of these decisions are based on money, but there is also a market for it. And not the market you might think. There are a lot of Christians who buy and read these resources to get a perspective. Are they using it for there own devotionals and personal time with God probably not, but a lot of Christians read bad books specifically for things like, writing reviews, papers, sermons,etc. How is a pastor supposed to warn his congregation of heresy if he doesn’t know what the heretics think.

        Of course, you could take my analogy to the extreme and start selling books by Anton Lavey (and oh boy do I hope they never do that) but even without going that extreme it’s still valid. There are books and opinions being taught throughout the Christian church that are dangerous and pastor’s need to warn their congregations about heresies. Seeing a warning on one of these books in a Christian bookstore is actually a good idea. Of course they had to stop that practice.

        Comment by John O — July 21, 2014 @ 10:28 pm

  10. […] target in October ’10; though it paled in comparison to a September ’08 decision to pull a music magazine from the shelves with a cover story on female pastors, while continuing to print and market materials by Bible teacher Beth […]

    Pingback by LifeWay: We Didn’t Know What We Were Talking About « Thinking Out Loud — February 25, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  11. […] September 2008: LifeWay Reveals Its Total Hypocrisy […]

    Pingback by LifeWay Under Fire … Again | Christian Book Shop Talk — December 30, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

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