Thinking Out Loud

January 31, 2014

Thomas Nelson Accused of Spiritual Deception

WND Faith

A conservative writer at WND (World Net Daily) held nothing back yesterday in an full-blown attack levied at Thomas Nelson, an imprint now part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In an article titled Beware the Bookseller Pretending To Be Christian — more about that headline later — Jim Fletcher writes:

Back in the day, with its marketing angle that touted the company’s roots (the company began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798), one got the feeling that its books were trustworthy.

Guess not.

He continues,

Thomas Nelson has seemingly not cared about being too rigidly biblical in its offerings for some time, and the current list of authors/books is disturbing to anyone who would identify as a conservative Christian…

He then systematically works his way through attacks — some detailed and others off-the-cuff — at Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Rachel Held Evans, Brad Lomenick, Richard Stearns, Ron Sider, Donald Miller, Judah Smith, Leonard Sweet, and Bob Roberts, Jr. It’s hard to imagine that there was anyone left on the author roster that Fletcher hadn’t lined up in his sights.

As the article builds to a crescendo he concludes:

…They remind me of those thoroughbred running backs in college and the NFL, the ones who feint this way and that, stopping defensive backs in their tracks.

But feinting can also mean one who intentionally deceives.

Deception.

Read the full article here.

It should be noted that whether you agree or disagree with the doctrinal state of Christian publishers in general, or Thomas Nelson in particular, WND editors committed a major blunder in creating the article’s headline. (Generally, writers do not choose their header.) The article is about the actions of a publisher, but the headline implies that booksellers — brick and mortar, or online — are complicit in spiritual deception, when perhaps they have simply trusted the Nelson brand over the years. Yes, local retailers try to practice discernment, but even in these scaled-back publishing times, they can’t be expected to read every book by every author.  

So what does an article like this accomplish, exactly? It’s certainly meant to be insightful and helpful, but it comes off like a rant. I don’t agree with every word that Rachel Held Evans or Donald Miller writes, but I do find sections of their books redemptive. To a younger generation, they represent a trend where key voices in the Christian blogosphere have graduated to print. And just as there are at least three major streams in the creation/origins debate, the fact remains that Christians hold different views on Israel/Palestine.

Instead, the rant reminds me so much of, “We’ll get Mikey to try it, he hates everything.” 

Or in this case, Jim.

The article’s tag line describes Fletcher as a book industry insider. With more than thirty years in the same business, I’d like to suggest that booksellers do indeed practice discernment. If you don’t like Thomas Nelson’s offerings, shop elsewhere, perhaps focusing on classic authors from past centuries. But I’ll bet the rent that there were books back then that were considered sketchy, a few of which are still around, but also bet that there are books today that just possibly could endure as long, and I think we’d all be surprised to see what’s still being read 50 or 100 years from now.

May 5, 2010

That Time Again: Mid Week Links

It’s time for our mid wink leek mid week link list:  The best of the Christian internet except for the parts that are better.

  • Our borrowed banner this week is from Rumblings, the blog of Ryan Dueck, an associate pastor in Vancouver; that’s his son catching a view of the Pacific.
  • Bruxy Cavey at Canada’s largest multi-site church, The Meeting House is in the middle of a series with the title “Inglorious Pastors” (yes, really) which looks at the contrast between the popular “Just War” theory among evangelicals versus the pacificism practiced by the Anabaptists.   Click this teaching page, select the above-named series, then select individual sermons.
  • I thought the relaunch of James Dobson’s broadcasting career was going to be an internet-only thing, but as this website testifies, they kicked off Monday on a number of broadcast radio outlets in the U.S.   (Couldn’t resist borrowing the graphic at right, which kinda summarizes what Dobson was and still is all about.)
  • The ECPA Book of the Year for 2010 is The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.  Other winners are listed here.
  • A couple of weeks ago, Collide magazine came up with some good reasons to stop using media, more reasons than you might imagine.  Consider:

    “The lack of conviction with which your media is created (or purchased) and presented may transfer to your audience, or fail to transfer anything at all. Even worse, you’ll be under the impression that you’ve done your job for the week, and your audience will be under the impression that what they just sat through is what they can expect from an authentic worship experience. For what it’s worth, I think you’d both be wrong.”

    Read more here.

  • Our YouTube of the week is this 90-second testimony by Tamara Lowe who may or may not watch waaaaaaaaay too much broadcast television.
  • A 100-second Bible study on all the “one another”s from scripture is found at Zach Nielsen’s blog.
  • An interesting “behind the scenes” 4-minute video with a pastor from Bethlehem Baptist Church describes the process whereby John Piper’s preaching replacement for the next eight months was found in Kenny Stokes.
  • This week Michael Lantz included a brief excerpt from the Didache, an early church document which I don’t think we’ve mentioned here.   If you don’t know the word, that most inerrant source, Wikipedia has this to offer, or go directly to Michael’s blog.
  • Blog discovery of the week:  “Wrestling with an Angel — Lessons in the life of a father learned through the struggles of his disabled son.”  Whether or not you’ve walked a similar road, you’ll be richer for having read this blog by Greg Lucas.
  • The economy disperses families, job moves tear up roots, and electronic interaction sometimes is just a poor substitute.   Here’s our quotation of the week from the blog, Contents Under Pressure:

    It seems like most people already have the maximum number of active relationships that they can handle, and simply do not have any more of themselves to give to a new relationship.  Those with kids tend to typically interact with other folks who have kids, which makes sense to a certain degree.  So, being new to the area and having no kids has proven to create a difficult scenario for my wife and I.  Relationships that we maintain from North Carolina have expectedly become more difficult, as we either communicate via voice mail, text message or social media.  These methods of communication are all fine and well, but they do not replace real interaction with people.

  • Actually, here’s another shorter quotation from C.S. Lewis from the essay “Fern Seed and Elephants” which appeared this week at the blog, Mockingbird:  “[Modern biblical critics] ask me to believe they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards way in broad daylight.”
  • Not to minimize my appreciation for widely-used BibleGateway.com, but I find I’ve been increasingly utilizing a different site that allows better search results when I’m not entirely sure of the keywords, and greater ease of translation switching.   Check out Blue Letter Bible.
  • In a world when photocopy machines did the job of e-mail forwards, this fictional story of a pastor who didn’t get hired was popular among Christians as it still is.
  • Our cartoon this week is from Matt Glover in Australia:

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.