This week Atlanta, which I live near, is host city to the 2007 International Christian Retail Show (formerly CBA – Christian Booksellers Association). The change in title is sadly more honest in its reflection of the focus of the convention. I say sadly, because the Christian retail industry is now (and has been for a long time) more about trinkets and such than it is about books.
Just take a walk into your nearest Christian bookstore and observe how much space is allotted to books in relation to the space allotted to everything else – plaques, figurines, T-shirts, pictures, blankets, jewelry, candy, and nicknacks by the score.
Not only is it lamentable to see the drift away from promoting good books as the core of the Christian bookstore business to promoting “Christian”products, but the sheer foolishness and tackiness of some of the products being marked these days.
The truth is, what is most amazing to me is that the apparent reason these other products are getting the major push is simply because people are buying them more than they are buying and reading good Christian books.
Today I came across two of the most ridiculous examples I’ve seen in a long time. The first is just stupid and insulting. It just screams “Christians are gullible and will buy anything that you make even the slightest attempt to even thinly connect to Christianity.” It’s the “Colors of Faith Ducky.” I saw this over at the ALittleLeaven blog, where you’ll find plenty more.
This second one ought to make you cringe. They’re called “Fishermen“, and feature The Lord Jesus as a bullrider, quarterback, biker, homeless man, soccer player, peacenik soldier, and surfer. Thanks to Tim Challies for the heads up on this one.
I find this kind of thing offensive and fearful, especially in light of John’s description of Christ in Revelation 1:14-18 (NKJV):
His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
This vision of the Lord Jesus Christ fills me with the fear of the Lord. He is unimaginably holy and sovereign. The kind of depictions that these “Fishermen” make of Christ demean Him, disrespect Him, and are irreverent toward Him.
But what else can you expect from such a spiritually casual and flippant Christian culture? It’s just indicative of the vision today’s church culture is casting of the Lord Jesus. He’s more of a buddy, friend, and companion to be high-fived, than a holy God whose throne we are to be found prostrate before.
A. W. Tozer said it well (Knowledge of the Holy, chapter one):
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
“Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”
“That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance.”
“Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them.”
“The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”
“So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.”
“The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him – and of her.”