Part One — The Apocrypha
There are a number of reasons why the Apocrypha doesn’t appear in the majority of Bibles that will be sold today. The issues of canonicity (it’s a word now!) are varied and complex, and have more to do with authorship and authenticity.
But after reading almost every chapter and verse several years ago, I sensed there was a different “tenor” to those books. That’s subjective on my part, and I know that by applying the same criteria, others have rejected the book of Esther or Song of Solomon, while still others will be quick to remind us all that the original edition of the 1611 King James Bible actually contained these extra books, something KJV-only advocates are not quick to mention.
But sometimes you just know. It just doesn’t feel right. I think that’s the application of the gift of discernment. There is much accuracy in the books of I and II Maccabees. There is much wisdom in the book of Sirach. But these things are true of a host of extra-Biblical writings, not to mention the contribution of contemporary authors.
Part II — God Calling
I’m all for devotional readings to start or end the day — I include a link on this blog’s sidebar to Daily Encouragement in case you missed this morning — but I’m not sure that it should be one’s entire source of spiritual input for the day.
Some of the books available are published by general-market publishers and simply contain the odd Bible verse here and there. Others are simply too short. And then there’s God Calling, written by “The Two Listeners” and edited by A. J. Russell.
This book came out of the Oxford Group (don’t Google ‘Oxford Movement,’ that’s different) which also was the ground zero for the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The unknown authors ‘received’ the book through a process called ‘automatic writing,’ sitting with pads of paper in a room and waiting for God to speak to them.
Several years ago it’s origins were reconsidered in an article in the Christian bookstore trade magazine Christian Retailing which resulted in many such stores pulling it off the shelf. Others don’t have a problem with it however, and two Christian publishing giants, Baker Books and Barbour Publishing, each continue distribution to this day.
If you negate the book’s orthodoxy on the basis of automatic writing alone, you’re also negating every prophetic word ever published by Charismatics, the “Footprints” poem and the book and video of The Father’s Love Letter. (And yes, there are some reading this who are quite prepared to do this.)
But God Calling presents other challenges as well, and if someone can find one or two good critiques online, I’d be happy to post them here and in my book industry blog.
There is a huge sometimes-you-just-know factor at play here.
Part III — 66 Love Letters
Applying all the above discussion to a new book by respected Christian author Larry Crabb, 66 Love Letters, (Thomas Nelson) it’s hard to see a difference. The book is based on major themes from each of the 66 books in the core Biblical canon, but again written in the first person as though from God.
I haven’t read the book, but I subscribed by e-mail to the Lenten reflections based on 40 of the 66 chapters. After negotiating the first few, I found myself skimming the remainder or filing them away for future reference if I ever wanted to consider those major themes.
It’s a personal thing; I just find there’s a danger in putting words in God’s mouth in a format like this. I’m not questioning the theology or the doctrine contained in Crabb’s writing, and it’s not about him in particular. And I am in no way dispensational when it comes to “Thus Saith the Lord” prophetic messages from persons having that gift, if it’s truly God speaking.
It just doesn’t feel right; it just doesn’t resonate with my personality or with my spirit; and it brings me back to the same position: Sometimes you just know.