Marsha West
A whole lotta 'Christian' bestsellers are unfit for Christian consumption
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By Marsha West
December 6, 2019

Sadly, "Christian" book sellers line their shelves with books that are clearly unbiblical. Books that put a positive spin on New Age spirituality, Eastern mysticism, LGBTQ+ issues, and so forth are available through online Christian outlets, as well as their brick and mortar stores. I think it's safe to say that pseudo-Christian publishing houses have to be one of if not the largest suppliers of outright heresy that exists today. Oddly, these organizations and the outlets that distribute for them are responsible (or should I say irresponsible) for much of the apostasy we're witnessing in the visible Church. This is principally because these money-making enterprises offer false teachers a platform for spreading really, really bad theology. As an example, folks shopping for something as important as a Bible will find one in every color, shape, and size. That in and of itself is fine. But they'll also find Bibles offering translations that supposedly are "accurate," "up-to-date," and "easy to read." I say supposedly because many Bible translations are highly unorthodox and unfit for Christian consumption. Tragically, it's the unorthodox Bibles and other reading material that lead undiscerning souls into false teaching.

Visit just about any Christian bookstore (CB) and you'll see display cases and shelves stocked with spiritual merchandise, to include jewelry, figurines, framed pictures, greeting cards, calendars, posters, music – you name it, CB's carry it. I am sure they would argue that Christians who visit their establishment want these types of items and selling them helps them remain in business. That might be true, but this excuse wears thin when one examines the books on their shelves. In some stores advertised as Christian, a large number of books do not hold to the fundamentals of the faith. What people need to come to grips with is that even Christian publishing houses turn out books chock-full of heresy. If this were not true, then books that teach Word of Faith theology, more commonly known as the prosperity gospel (positive confession, health & wealth, name-it-and-claim-it) would never have seen the light of day, much less flooded the market as they have. Over the years, discerning Christians' concerns about what's being marketed have met deaf ears. Publishers, store owners, and even books sold inside churches have made big bucks off books that were inspired by the devil himself.

The Message Bible

Eugene Peterson's The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary English sold 100,000 copies in the first four months after its release. The so-called Bible was printed by Christian publishing house NavPress. In Peterson's introduction to The Message, he writes "This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners...."

According to Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries:

Eugene Peterson is a devotee of the corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism spewed by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic, Richard Foster, and his spiritual twin SBC minister, Dallas Willard, and their spurious Spiritual Formation.

At this point it's very important for you to understand that this CSM, and its "Christian" form of transcendental meditation called Contemplative/Centering Prayer, originally flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism.

In fact, this CSM would eventually lead to the teaching magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church declaring that only it alone could truly understand the Bible. So it really shouldn't come as a shock to us when in his ode to Lectio Divina from his Eat This Book Eugene Peterson starts leading people right back toward that same spiritual dead end of religious bondage. (Source)

Following is Bible translator Eugene Peterson's view of studying the Bible:

[W]hy do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text which has a separate life of it's [sic] own and we think we're being more pious and spiritual when we're doing it. But it's all to be lived. It was given to us so we could live it. But most Christians know far more of the Bible than they're living. They should be studying it less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God... (Source)

This alleged paraphrase of the Bible contains all sorts of heresies, as quite a few scholars pointed out after it was published. Peterson has even been accused of savaging God's Word! Yet after his death in 2018 popular Bible (false) teacher Beth Moore tweeted:

Don't you just sorta hope when Eugene Peterson finally sees the gorgeous, glorious face of the Savior he has so long loved and served, that Jesus is the type that might greet him with something from The Message translation? Like, maybe John 21:12? "Breakfast is ready."

John gives us fair warning about counterfeit Christians:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:10).

The Shack

One of the books you'll find in most CB's is William Paul Young's The Shack. Many people have oozed with delight over Young's pseudo-Christian book. When it first came out, friends who were touched by the story on an emotional level suggested that I read it. Always looking for a good book to curl up with, I bought it. After reading several chapters I was surprised to find a very troubling, highly unbiblical storyline. In fact, the story so disturbed me that it's one of those books I "burned" (figuratively speaking). Space does not allow for comment on all the "issues" with The Shack. So go here to find out why it's a good idea to stay away from that book. Pastor Joe Schimel protested that the "pretentious caricature of God as a heavy set, cushy, non-judgmental, African American woman called 'Papa' ... and his depiction of the Holy Spirit as a frail Asian woman with the Hindu name, Sarayu, lends itself to a dangerous and false image of God and idolatry." (H/T Doug Evans)

I recall one close Christian friend who urged me to read it said, "It's a great story but you'll have to eat the meat and spit out the bones." She found the story so "compelling" that she bought it for her family and friends. Those who read it may discover a morsel of meat scattered throughout. But it's really a book of bones large enough to choke on. What I find hard to believe is that many churches have used The Shack for their women's Bible studies. Not only is it a theological train wreck, it's blasphemous. No Christian should want to read or recommend a book that one highly regarded theologian labeled "undiluted heresy."

One last comment. In the years since The Shack was published it has been revealed that William Young is a heretic. Young claims to present a new understanding of the Christian faith under the guise of fiction. Here's how Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel sums up Young's book in his online book review:

The Shack, while occasionally getting things right is, in the end, a dangerous piece of fiction. It undermines Scripture and the church, presents at best a mutilated gospel, misrepresents the biblical teachings concerning the Godhead and offers a New Age understanding of God and the universe. This is not a great novel to explain tragedy and pain. It is a misleading work which will confuse many and lead others astray.

Certainly, there are Christian bookstore employees who are sincere Christians. If you're one of them, I'd like to remind you that Jude urges followers of the Lord Jesus to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 1:3) Defending the faith is a duty. Moreover, defending the faith is a command.

Jude also warns against false teachers and leaders who undermine the faith:

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4).

You'd have to be living in an abandoned mine shaft not to know that apostasy is rampant in the contemporary church. Anyone who profits from the sale of books that lead people away from the truth only contribute to the problem.

Jesus Calling

Now I want to address Sarah Young's bestselling devotional. Young claims that what's written in the book are the actual words of Jesus. It is written in the first person, as if Jesus is the one who said the things in her book. Young claims that:

Phrases and sentences began coming to her mind, and she wrote them down. It was Jesus speaking! Er, calling! Or something! She would later clarify, likely in response to criticism, that this was not an audible voice she heard – she "heard" Him in her mind (to the best of my knowledge, she's never explained how the voice of Jesus sounds different than her own thoughts). During these sessions, she would take breaks and read what she'd written, encouraged by such fresh, new words from the Lord.

"This new way of communicating with God became the high point of my day," Young wrote. She had changed her prayer time from monologue to dialogue – she said something to God, and He said something back to her. Which she just had to write down and get published, right? Her writings became the bestselling daily devotional Jesus Calling. And then Jesus Lives. And then Jesus Today. And then Jesus Always. Et cetera, ad nauseum. (By the way, you knew I was kidding about the Jesus Delicious candy bars, right? Don't get any ideas, Thomas Nelson.) (Source)

Last year Christian publisher Thomas Nelson released Jesus Calling for Christmas. As with the The Shack there isn't enough space to go into all the reasons Jesus Calling mustn't be taken seriously by Bible believing Christians. So for those who wish to delve further into the occult book, Spiritual Research Network has written a piece entitled The "Jesus Calling" Sarah Young Devotional Series.

What I've covered here is only the tip of the iceberg.

Girl, Wash Your Face

Thomas Nelson is also responsible for publishing the 2nd most popular nonfiction book of 2018 which made it to the ECPA's Top 50 list of bestselling books, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. What is the important truth Hollis would like her readers to know? "You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are." Really?

Hollis is a professing Christian. So naturally blogger and book reviewer Tim Challies wants to know what the role of faith is in this process of change. "She says she is a Christian who believes 'God loves each of us unconditionally' and that her creed is 'love your neighbor as yourself.' Yet she affirms the validity of all other faiths and is clear that her instruction is equally effective for all women, no matter their lifestyle or religious convictions. Thus, the book and the happy life it describes are available not only to Christians, but to all people who are willing to put in the effort."

The advice Hollis gives women is not from the Bible. What she offers them is worldly wisdom. Isn't it just like Satan to steer Christian women away from the path that leads to Jesus onto the path that leads to destruction?

More from Challis' review:

Here is the book in short: The great truth every woman needs to know is that she, and she alone, is responsible for her happiness. Happiness (defined as contentment, optimism, gratitude, the appearance of perfection, and enjoyment of 90 percent of life), depends upon identifying and destroying whatever lies she believes about herself. To do this, she must take hold of the power she has within. When she fails, she should take comfort that at least she made the effort and determine she will try harder next time. The big takeaway is this: Try harder! And when that fails: Try even harder! And when that fails, try again!

This is not merely inconsistent with the message of the Bible, but antithetical to it. The Bible is clear that the greatest need of every woman is not happiness but holiness, not Rachel-likeness but Christ-likeness. The problem at the heart of every woman is that she has sinned and falls far short of the perfection God rightfully demands of her. What she needs most and first is not to make incremental changes to her lifestyle but to look to Christ who will bring lasting change to her heart. (Source)

Here's a word of advice: Girl....don't buy this book.

The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

Because people are obsessed with knowing themselves they dig into self-help assessments such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and so on. At this point in time Christians are on that journey with the help of the Enneagram using books such as The Road Back to You. This book is currently #1 on Amazon in the categories of Christian Self Help, Christian Spiritual Growth and Christian Personal Growth. The authors, Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, are both professing Christians. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the book and study guide has taken the place of the Bible in many "Bible studies." The book's publisher is Inner Varsity Press. It can be purchased in Christian bookstores even though it's about as Christian as A Course In Miracles.

The Enneagram is brought to us by mystic George Gurdjieff who claimed to have learned it from "the Sufis (a mystical spin-off sect of Islam)." Knowing this, the clear and obvious question is, why is the Enneagram suddenly a "Christian trend" when the source for finding out who you are doesn't come from anything close to what one would consider sound biblical teaching? The Enneagram is said to be a helpful tool for the Christian when the fact of the matter is that it's a tool of the occult, i.e. a tool of Satan.

Roman Catholic Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr bears most of the responsibility for introducing the Enneagram to the (undiscerning) Christian community in his book "The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective." Rohr once wrote that "sins are fixations that prevent the energy of life, God's love, from flowing freely." Nowhere in the Bible does it say that sins are fixations and God's love is the energy of life. That is nonsense. But, again, Rohr is a mystic.

Before a Bible believing Christian becomes involved in the New Enneagram Trend, or anything like it, she must ask herself this question: Would the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writers of the Bible, lead believers into practices that are expressly forbidden in Scripture (like, say, yoga)?

There's much more that could be said about all the garbage sold by so-called Christian publishing companies, bookstores, and even in churches on their book tables. I will leave that for another day. My desire is not to condemn them; only to bring to light some disturbing trends and to expose a few apostates.

Research:

On Solid Rock Resources

© Marsha West

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Marsha West

Marsha West is founder and co-blogger at Berean Research, along with Amy Spreeman. For two decades Marsha was the owner and managing editor of Email Brigade website and EMB News Report, a bi-weekly report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is also the owner and managing editor of Christian Research Network, Apprising Ministries and On Solid Rock Resources.

Marsha is a regular contributor for several blogs including CRN, RenewAmerica, News With Views, and Web Commentary. Her articles have been translated into many languages and distributed worldwide.

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