Sometimes I get frustrated (mostly with myself) when I read that someone else has already written something I really wanted to write but haven’t taken the time to write. Other times I read something like that and am just glad someone wrote it. Michael Spencer’s take on visiting a Christian-themed product retail supercenter is one of the latter. A sampling:
One cannot say it enough: The book selection in the average Lifeway is horrendous…. There is a large section called "Christian Living," and 98% of the books found there never needed to be written. The packaging is very nice. The titles are cute. But after that, things get desperately discouraging. Politics. Family Values. Sentimental devotionalism. Nonsense. Bad advice. Mumbling. …books that retread the same messages that evangelicals have been writing for a century.
Of course, there are many Bibles and Bible reference materials in most Lifeways, but almost no theology. Bibles and Christian Living, but a shrinking interest in theology. You can draw your own conclusions. I think it tells a story.
If our pastors aren’t teaching their people, who gave the Christian publishers and parachurch ministries the green light to fill the gap? Thousands of Baptist churches have "Women’s Bible Studies" going that would never be in existence if the pastor were the leader. What’s up with that? I am all for good curriculum, but I don’t want N.T. Wright, John Piper or anyone else replacing the teaching ministry of local church pastors and elders, especially at the instigation of Christian publishers who want to sell products. The issue of accountability is seriously compromised with the proliferation of replacement Bible teachers packaged and sold by Lifeway.
He then goes on to crack back on Joyce Meyer and some of her most ardent detractors by calling her "the pastor most Southern Baptists wish they had, even though their version of God won’t allow her in the ministry."