The Demise of Christian Bookstores

Publishing a book is not an easy task. Traditional publishers want you to get a literary agent and won’t accept manuscripts if you don’t. A literary agent can be good or bad, but mostly they are limited by their own perspective on what will sell. What sells is frequently not really connected with the Bible or good Bible teaching but more likely something based on feelings only loosely connected with the Bible. If you write a book, as I think I have, that is not only biblical but comes from an unexpected direction then you are pretty much out of luck with traditional publishing. You won’t even get a second look.

Another huge problem in publishing is the Christian bookstore. My wife and I are getting ready to take another trip to see family in San Diego. So I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to buy some copies of my book and take them around to the bookstores there and see if they would like to carry some copies. I started researching on the web to find the stores and got a shock. One chain calling themselves Family Christian had just closed (something like 240 stores) after filing for bankruptcy a couple years previous. Another chain calling themselves Lifeway tells me on their website that they don’t accept Product that is self-published. The “Product” must come from a traditional publisher or a literary agent. A third option I remembered in San Diego was the Evangelical Bible Bookstore which was famous for a long time because they carried a lot of serious theology books, were very knowledgeable and helpful, and discounted their books. To my surprise they had gone the way of many independents and closed their doors too after 40 years in business.

Locally, the three or four independent Christian bookstores we used to have are also out of business. The only stores around here are a Barnes and Noble (not exactly a Christian hotspot) and a couple of church bookstores. We used to have a Borders also, but they bit the dust some years ago. You would think we could maybe try the church bookstores and see if they would carry our book. But the problem with the church bookstores is if you have a book that is not “church friendly,” such as our book Whole Bible Christianity, or you are not one of their own famous people or pastors, you are not going to get a fair hearing from them. They only carry stuff with which they agree, usually written by their own people.

The church bookstore does okay because the overhead is paid by the church, and they don’t have to meet sales goals. They are present just to push the publications and music of the particular church or denomination. Catholic bookstores sell Catholic books, Calvary Chapel sells books by Chuck Smith or others of their pastors, Christian Science sells their own teachings, and so on. Since Whole Bible Christianity just teaches the Bible, and we don’t push a particular church teaching, we are out of luck.

So why is the Christian bookstore (or even just bookstores in general) disappearing from the landscape? Many people jump to blame the internet, and Amazon in particular. They have a point. Amazon has a tremendous selection, fast shipping, discounted prices, and are open 24/7. But did the rise of Amazon kill the bookstore, or did Amazon and others like them come into existence because the bookstore wasn’t getting the job done in the first place? Did Amazon kill the bookstore, or did the bookstore help create Amazon?

In my estimation, Amazon or the internet in general has not killed the bookstore. It is also not the main factor hammering the traditional publisher either (traditional publisher sales, Christian and otherwise, are also slumping). Two things I think are doing it. One is the lack of vision; the ability to discern what people need and would want, or if you will, the ability to tell the difference between a good product and a bad one. The second is the church itself.

Publishers and bookstores have to make money. Printing is expensive, and carrying space in stores costs money. If a publisher prints a bunch of copies of a book and they don’t sell, it can get costly. A bookstore has limited space, so if a book doesn’t sell it is a double whammy because the space could’ve been used by a book that did sell. So the industry is forced to gear all of their decisions around what will sell. If they make a mistake it can get real expensive real quick. So the nature of the market causes them to be super cautious. The publishers use literary agents to sift the writers material, which helps a little, but the literary agents work off of commission and tend to be extra cautious also. They have reputations to protect too, because if they keep recommending books that bomb then they will not be able to continue in the field. Everything is driven by money, which is not necessarily a bad thing (costs have to be paid somehow) but it tends to make people in the industry want to find the guaranteed “sure thing” and stay away from stuff they simply don’t have the vision, skill, imagination or judgment to evaluate properly.

A couple of cases in point. The first Harry Potter book was universally turned down by every publisher by the account of J. K. Rowling. A book called The Shack which has become a multi-million bestseller (although I think it is a piece of trash) was also turned down by everyone. Many more examples could be listed, but I think you get it. People in the book industry have purposefully become dumber than a sack full of hammers, too afraid to take a chance because of the dollars involved and reputations that could suffer.

The same problem afflicts the Christian book industry. But another problem serves to double the damage, and that is the church. I will go out on a limb here and say that the church doesn’t teach the Bible anymore. They just teach opinions about the Bible. Pastors, priests and rabbis have (in general) made themselves into champion ear-ticklers. They have convinced themselves that no one wants the truth, because the truth may not fill the pew or the offering plate. The lure of a bigger paycheck, a mega-church or a spot on late night talk shows is too strong for most of them.

Obviously, the Bible is the champion bestseller in history, so why would we back away from teaching it? Money and ego, again. It is easier to write and sell a book catering to the latest fad or to sentiment than it is to take the time to learn and teach the Bible or anything from it. You also don’t (seemingly or immediately) get very far with Bible teachings because those require humility to learn and teach.

Fortunately, God doesn’t need the world’s systems (including the worldly church) to get His Word out. One way or another He gets the job done. His Spirit is causing all sorts of people all over the world to wake up and embrace the pure, plain, soul-saving teachings of the Lord of Life. We may or may not be able to sell a single book, but His work goes on and on for eternity. His holy, just and life giving will is being done, and you can come along for the ride if you want. A bookstore could find that the difference between bankruptcy and success lies in the radical marketing concept of the Book that beats all others. Publishers would see fewer reverses if they would just commit to serving up the meat of the Word instead of the bland, nutrition-less saccharine they insist on providing at the present time. If we submit to His Word we find that judgment for finding what really matters comes roaring back.

The bookstore, the publisher, and the church/synagogue are sowing the seeds of their own demise. Blame Amazon if you want and it makes you feel better. But you might want to look in the mirror instead.

Shalom
Bruce

God More Skeptical of Humans Than Ever Before

I read the headline on Drudge with amusement: Americans More Skeptical of God than Ever Before. I had to laugh. And laugh. And chortle. And maybe even snicker. All these surveys measuring human belief in God, and not a single one measuring God’s belief in humans.

According to the article in vocativ.com, in previous studies it was assumed that people were losing trust in organized religion, but were still pretty spiritual (whatever that means) in private. Now the researchers are thinking that people’s faith in God is declining, public or private.

I don’t have any trouble believing that people are fading. Selfishness is at an all time high, judging from observation. We buy Bibles at record rates, but our actions indicate we must be using them to prop up a broken couch leg or to hold our porn collection more securely on the bookshelf. We aren’t reading it, and we certainly aren’t doing what it says either.

Which begs the question: what does God think about us? We know He’s a God of love, or at least we hope He is, even to the extent that we hope He will always love us no matter what we do. So we keep doing it. But I don’t think that He loves unrighteousness at all. And for those who practice it He has a very dark, hot place all prepared.

Is this the falling away or rebellion that is spoken of by the Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3)? The whole world knows about God, but doesn’t know God? Without a doubt, in my opinion, yes.

I think we have turned God into a cosmic sugar daddy, and if He doesn’t deliver the goodies we turn away. Many of us only worship Him because of what they think they can get (health, wealth, etc.) and when they don’t get it they throw a temper fit. They wonder why God allows evil to continue, never questioning their own part in refusing to obey His Laws and causing the evil in the first place.

God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but at the same time He knows many will insist. He is losing His patience, I think, and for the sake of those who really believe in Him, evidenced by actions consistent with His Word and Law, He will be cutting things short very soon. Just because people lose faith in Him doesn’t mean He will leave those few who don’t out in the cold. But He’s very skeptical about those who are falling away.

Do unbelievers matter to God? I’ve got to say, I don’t think they matter very much to God at all.

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At Romans 9 through 12

The third video in our Romans series is up, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard Romans this way!

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At: Romans 5 through 8

Did you know there are seven different laws listed in Romans? Did you know the English word law is used 78 times from chapter 2 to chapter 8? Did you also know that love is mentioned 15 times, not counting “beloved?” The most important are the 13 in 5:5, 8; 8:28, 35, 37, 39; 12:9, 10; 13:8, 9, 10; 14:15; and 15:30. Did you know Paul’s main subject is living the Law with love and the Spirit rather than in a self-seeking attempt to earn our own salvation righteousness?

That information with much else is covered in our Romans video series. Got the second video up now. It took a while to start posting these mostly because I was learning how to do multi-camera editing. Plus I have to do about 40 slides, place them in the video, edit the sound, add titles and make sure everything is ready to go.


This series is mostly to help the whole Bible believer explain Paul’s writings in context with the rest of Scripture (including the Law). Many (many, many) people calling themselves believers use this book along with Galatians and selected other sections of Paul’s writings to remove the Law from a believer’s life. Not only does this not do justice to Paul’s writings, but removing the Law is like removing the most nutritious parts of food, then wondering why we still seem to be starving to death.

And the church IS starving. We started starving when we began sitting in judgment on His living oracles, approving behavior that is specifically listed for us as harmful. Paul specifically says that the law is good, righteous, holy and spiritual. He “delights in the Law of God” but “I see in my members another law waging war.” This law is the law of sin, not the Law of God. The law of sin is the one where we try to earn salvation righteousness from God by following some rules (without the heart or the Spirit). View the video to see how this is explained by Paul.

Shalom
Bruce

New Series On Romans

One of the things that has turned us off of the Messianic movement is the inability of many to explain Paul’s writings in context with the Law. Few can do it, if at all. So much of the Bible in general has been so covered over with traditions of men and deliberate misinterpretation, that even if a believer manages to work his way through to the understanding of the Law as a valid lifestyle and discipleship method Paul’s writings still seem to contradict (although we know instinctively that they don’t).

Usually the Messianic person will simply revert to throwing out Paul’s writings. A big tool for doing this is to claim that there must’ve been a (lost) Hebrew New Testament that was translated into Greek and in so doing much of the meaning was corrupted by the time we translate to English. So the easy answer for this crowd is to declare the Greek null and void.

Somewhere along the way this nutcase crowd decides to throw out the virgin birth of Jesus along with the claims that Jesus is God. Next this crowd just moves to throw out the whole New Testament. What the heck. It’s all mistranslated anyway, right? Anything they can’t understand or explain must be the fault of the text! Much of the throwing starts with Paul’s writings because they cannot explain properly what he is talking about.

So we decided to do some videos with our own explanations. It’s not that hard, really. All you have to do is read the text. The plain meaning is right there in front of us. It’s not the text that’s the problem. It is either an agenda or a fault in our own understanding. The message is repeated enough throughout the Word (including Paul’s writings) that it is extremely easy to figure out the meaning. If we are going to throw anything out it should be the traditions of men that clutter up the text in the first place.

First in the series is Romans chapters 1 through 4, just put up on our Youtube channel. It’s about an hour. Three future videos will cover four chapters each and hopefully end up at about an hour each.

There is a list of time marks in the description so you can jump to particular parts if you want. There are also links to other videos from us explaining different words or concepts further. We hope this series (along with other videos such as our Book of Galatians effort) will help the seeker of truth figure out how to explain their faith easily and biblically to the many (many, many, many) skeptics he or she will encounter.

Shalom
Bruce

Making It Personal

Hosea 6:7–10 (ESV)
7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. 8 Grand Junction is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood. 9 As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the pastors band together; they murder on the way to Denver; they commit villainy. 10 In the house of the United States I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s whoredom is there; the United States is defiled.

Sounds a little different when we make it personal, doesn’t it? Grand Junction is where I live; interstate 70 runs through it to Denver. Okay, pastors don’t really band together to murder. Yet. But the similarities are there.

You could probably do this yourself with your own town and country. Because while it may not be an exact match, the whoredom of Ephraim is all over.

You’ll maybe say, “But we don’t have idols!” And I’ll say, “Are you sure?” Idolatry is not just a statue. It is really self-will. Self-seeking. A statue is just one expression of self-will. There are many others, such as movie or music stars, your job, your house, your church, or your position in the community. There are lots of expressions of self-will, and not all of them include a statue.

Idolatry is anything short of complete devotion to God. That’s why He hammered it so much in the first two-thirds of the Bible. A little bit of cheating, and next thing you know we have the whoredom of Ephraim with the judgment of God coming soon. Adam and Eve were idolatrous; they didn’t have a statue either, but they made decisions based on what THEY thought was good or right, and not what God said was right. We do this every day in almost every way. A statue is wrong because it represents the start of going our own way. Self-seeking my not utilize a statue, but it is still idolatry.

Churches have been leading the way into self-seeking idolatry for a long time. Every time someone preaches that “we can’t do the law,” or “Jesus fulfilled the law so we don’t have to follow it” we have another step toward the whoredom of Ephraim and the judgment that will surely follow. Every step away from His Word is a step further into idolatry, whether we use a statue or not. Sitting in judgment on God’s Word is, as surely as Adam and Eve kicked themselves out of the Garden, the crooked path to whoredom.

Try making other passages more personal by inserting your name or your church’s name or the name of your own town here and there. We’re pretty much doing the same things, after all. It might help us to realize that a journey that takes us a thousand miles away from God starts with a simple step of self-seeking. Just because there is no idol in the house doesn’t mean that we aren’t just as idolatrous as ancient Israel.

Happily for us, He is merciful in His warnings. We are being warned in no uncertain terms. Beast attacks, disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, drought, wars and rumors of wars are on the increase. He is telling us to repent and return to Him. Everyone wants to make the Bible more personal when it comes to blessings. Shouldn’t we personalize the warnings too?

Shalom

Bruce

The Bible TV Series Review

I just got done watching the first two episodes of the series made for TV last year called The Bible. There is only about 40 minutes worth of viewing in each episode, and 10 episodes total. The first five cover the Old Testament, and the second five cover the New Testament. They are pretty abbreviated in their story telling, but given the light budget, the standard Christian (wrong) viewpoint, and the amount of ground they are trying to cover they don’t do too bad. It’s kind of like a condensed version of a Reader’s Digest condensed version.

Some of the scenes are funny (to me). Like the two angels that visit Sodom and Gomorrah – one is black and one is Asian. Trying to be politically correct I guess, but I also guess it could’ve been that way. The funny part is when the Asian guy goes all martial arts on the inhabitants of Sodom with two swords. It’s hilarious that Satan looks just like Obama in a robe.

Some of the details are just wrong. Noah’s kids are way too young. Lot’s daughters are way too young. Instead of a ram caught by its horns in a thicket as a substitute for Isaac, it’s a lamb caught by its foot. Pharaoh doesn’t die in the Red Sea with his army as he’s supposed to. Lots of minor details are wrong too. For instance Abraham doesn’t wander in a desert. It’s a good land with plenty of room for him and his family, and grazing for his flocks and herds. Probably would’ve cost too much in CGI money to make the land look as good as it was.

All in all, it’s not half bad. The producer’s standard Christian viewpoint is evident in the liberties taken with the text. They over dramatize some things and under-report others. On the good side they imply that the third angel talking with Abraham is Jesus (blurry shots, shots from the back). The not-so-good is seen in the skipping over of the Passover details. It’s as if it was made by someone with a knowledge of the key points of the Bible story, but little understanding. Which is why I say it’s standard Christian. Most Christians know the outlines of the stories, but very few have a real understanding coming from intimate reading and doing.

It’s not intended as a substitute for Bible reading. We should be so familiar with the real thing that we can easily identify where they went wrong. If this is all people will want to know of the Bible, then it is woefully inadequate. But hopefully it will encourage people to dig in to get the right of it. The book is much better than the movie in this instance. With all of the shortcomings at least the basics of the story are being told. A solid message that comes through loud and clear is “trust God.” For that at least the producers are to be commended.

Shalom
Bruce

New Video: A Whole Faith: Six Assumptions about Bible Interpretation

Hello All,
Thank you for your continued support of whole Bible Christianity. New on our youtube channel is the next video based on our book Whole Bible Christianity. This one covers six assumptions that undergird whole Bible Christian Bible interpretation. They are 1) His Word is the highest authority. 2) It reveals, it doesn’t conceal God. 3) It is clear, plain and easy to understand if we do what we read. 4) It means what He intends which is our definition of a literal interpretation. 5) It is self-explaining, or, the Bible interprets the Bible assuming we use the entire book. 6) His Word requires a response. Whether you embrace it or run and hide, it doesn’t just allow you to sit there like a bump on a log.

We also answer the question, “Can the Bible be trusted?” (Of course it can.)

Enjoy, subscribe, and shalom.
Bruce

Video the Second: Our Second Youtube video

I probably won’t keep posting these, but they’re so useful I want to make sure people get the word. Our youtube channel is wholebible if you want to bookmark it. This video is on Reintroducing Whole Bible Christianity. If you’ve been reading the book you’ll notice right away that it provides much of the text for these videos. Just another format to get the word out about the Word.

Shalom

Publishing Update for Whole Bible Christianity

Just got done making a Scripture index for the book Whole Bible Christianity. Over 1,300 entries covering maybe three thousand or more different verses. There’s a little duplication between references and quotes, but every book of the Bible is included and over 800 verses are fully quoted.

 

It took probably 10 or 12 hours to put it together, because each reference had to have it’s own mark and it took a little while to figure out how I was going to format it. I am amazed at how interconnected much of the Bible is with God’s Law and its applicability to almost any subject. How could I have missed it for so many years? Probably because of the near universal attempts to blind, misdirect, distract, and outright bamboozle anyone who shows the slightest interest in what is plainly taught on every page. With a little of my own hard-heartedness thrown in which contributed to my blindness I guess.

 

It’s also amazing how fiercely people (especially church people) fight against something that is so obvious and has so much support from every corner of God’s Word. And why? For not much more than a few diet tips, some holidays, avoiding sexual immorality and making sure we don’t step in what is unclean? That’s it? Well no, that’s not it. The real problem is the objective, absolute standard. That’s what really freaks people out. We’d rather eat from the tree of knowledge and pursue our own course than admit we need to turn around and live by every word out of the mouth of God.

 

Taken together, every quote or reference in Whole Bible Christianity shows an overwhelmingly beautiful picture of God’s living oracles, and the many blessings waiting to fall into the laps of every believer, pressed down and overflowing. All it takes is humility to kneel before the King and give Him back just a little of what He has given us.

 

Consider helping us in our quest to get Whole Bible Christianity published. Read a draft manuscript at http://www.wholebible.com/Whole_Bible_Christianity.htm if you want and give us your comments. The next step is to buy ISBN numbers (about $300.00) and publish it to Kindle. If we can get some traction there then maybe we can get a publisher interested. Or we could just bypass the publishers and self-publish, but that will take anywhere from $7,000.00 to $10,000.00 depending on how many copies we want to order right off the bat. Well also need to do some traveling and speaking to promote it. If you would like to help, go to our Contact page at http://www.wholebible.com/contact.htm for information on how to get in touch. Thanks for staying up with Whole Bible and for all your prayers. And thanks to people like my wife and Shari who have already helped out tremendously.

 

Shalom