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

Whole Bible Christianity, The Book

Our book Whole Bible Christianity has finally been published! It is on Amazon at this link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997501413/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1DQVER67Q2HMX&coliid=I1RPTLB6JQO1FI

There is a Look Inside feature, you can flip between the front and back cover, and it is only $19.50. If you would prefer, we will have the entire text on a web page when we update our website so you can read it online.

The book has about 800 direct quotes from the Word, around 1,500 entries in the Scripture Index, and is about 340 pages. One of the many uses of the book is as a handbook for whole Bible Christians everywhere who need a reference to help counter attacks against a whole Bible lifestyle. Chapter 7 deals with a bunch of the objections to following God’s living oracles, and chapter 8 has a list of blessings from doing what Jesus says.

Let us know what you think, and make sure to post a review on Amazon if you would be so kind.

Shalom
Bruce

Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover

Hot off the production line, our new video Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover (and Unleavened Bread and First Fruits) explains the simple steps for believers to show our love of the Father and our Messiah Jesus the Christ by observing the Passover.

We talk about the biblical specifics, the difference between tradition and the Bible, the calendar, and circumcision. Following the Bible is easy. It’s the traditions of men that make it difficult.

Shalom
Bruce

Identifying The Beast

I’m sorry. Every time I think about this subject, or read about someone who has positively identified The Beast, I crack up. Or at least chuckle a little. The reason it’s so humorous is that the methods used for identification, and the results of the methods, are mostly based on personal feelings. Or perhaps what I call newspaper exegesis (interpreting by newspaper headlines). I haven’t seen a result yet that comes from an understanding of the Bible. The best method of identification is right there in black and white. Or black, white and red. Or whatever fruity colors are used in your version.

The Beast is the coming ruler spoken of in the Bible who will sway nearly the whole world to follow his lead. As a token of appreciation, he will cause all who do so to receive a mark on the hand or forehead, without which no one can buy or sell. His helper is the false prophet, one who looks like a lamb and is called the anti-Christ or ‘instead of’ Christ. This helper of The Beast is the one who causes all to receive the mark. These two will be backed by the serpent or dragon, also called the deceiver and Satan. This unholy trinity will unite much of the population in a rebellion against God and His Christ. They will not succeed, but while they have their run there will be much death, destruction and wrath poured out from God. The wrath part is why I think this is still future, though others think it has already happened.

The Beast has been identified as Hitler, or rulers/kings like him. Some have pegged President Obama as The Beast. This is funny to me because as bad as Obama is he isn’t a pimple on the butt of The Beast. Various other leaders from time to time have been sometimes hysterically identified as the Beast. At one time people in the Calvary Chapel denomination along with many others were all excited about a computer in Belgium (early ’80’s) that was called the beast (at the time it could have numbered every person on the planet). Lately some are pointing to a smooth-talking atheist in Greece that has got them worried.

The problem with identifying The Beast comes in when people look right past the obvious. Especially the church. We will look everywhere except in the mirror. We are so blinded by men’s teachings, traditions and philosophies that we don’t recognize an important fact:

The Beast will be just as acceptable to the church as to the general populace.

Yes I know. That will be a shocking statement to those who think that the “church” is taken away in a rapture before all the really bad stuff starts, like a fairy tale princess in a flying pumpkin coach. However, the rapture without question is appended to the resurrection, and that resurrection clearly doesn’t happen till the end of the Tribulation. See our video Whole Bible Prophecy: The Rapture for more explanation on this.

So “the church” will be here during the tribulation. That’s the first boo boo in the whole identification process. There will be many who don’t even realize it at first, and many who will be upset when they find out they’ve been lied to by their leaders.

Some people point to the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation 4 through about 19 as proof that the church is gone. But here’s a fun fact for you: there is no church in the Bible. At all. It exists only in translations. The ekklesia (the Greek word translated by the English word ‘church’) is simply an assembly or congregation, and is found throughout history in the Word. A group of people. Ekklesia is used of Israel in the Septuagint translation, but isn’t translated as ‘church.’ It is just translated as congregation or assembly. So technically ‘the assembly’ is much different than ‘the church’ and includes all believers everywhere and everywhen. This explains the absence of ‘the church’ in Revelation. Especially the modern church. It was never there in the first place.

The typical church-goer can’t (or will not later) properly identify The Beast because they are not grounded on the Word, do not read it except for a few favorite verses, and refuse to do what it says. Instead they have crafted for themselves a seeker-friendly social gospel that only vaguely resembles anything biblical, with a hippie flower-child Jesus letting everyone behave as they choose. We have leaders telling us that hell doesn’t exist, parts of God’s Word are old and irrelevant, men’s traditions are the new covenant, and sexual immorality is really okay. If this doesn’t sound like “tolerating that woman Jezebel” or allowing the teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 1-3) I don’t know what does. The church has watered down the message of God for themselves so much that it isn’t even recognizable as God’s. By and large they have removed the whole nutrition of His Law from the message, and are therefore not grounded on the Rock.

For these reasons and a few others I believe The Beast will look a lot like a mega-church pastor, and teach many of the same things. He will be so very acceptable to the majority of the church because He will look and act just like they do. The church looks the same as the world, acts the same, and believes the same except for a little different Jesus flavoring. The Beast will bridge the (very small) gap between the world and the church very easily.

That might sound hard to some of you. But truth is only hard to the hard-hearted.

It is written that The Beast has blasphemous names on its heads and is given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words (Rev. 13). If you do a comprehensive word study you will find out that blasphemy is, at the bottom, either attributing evil to God’s works or attributing the works of God to evil (Satan, the Beast, or the anti-Christ get the credit instead of God). I think this means The Beast will claim that he is the author of works that are God’s, and will blame God for evil he and his two buddies do and the evil that is in the world in general. Right will be wrong and wrong will be painted as right.

The lack of grounding in the Bible for the majority of self-named Christians will contribute to the acceptance of The Beast. The blasphemy practiced by the Church (calling God’s Law irrelevant for instance) along with sexual immorality (adultery, divorce, fornication, homosexuality) and watered-down teaching from the Balaams, Jezebels and Nicolaitans among us will combine to allow easy acceptance by stone-hearted people.

11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV).

Hey. I’m not saying this. I’m getting it right from the Bible. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 1-3 if you don’t believe me. The people described in negative terms there have always been around and always a part of the so-called church. The door that Jesus is standing at and knocking is the door of the church. It’s just that in modern times a greater percentage of wolves in sheep’s clothing are present and the corruption is more prevalent than in the past. See our video The Whole Picture: Who Put the Church in Charge? at http://youtu.be/3dkxJTQCriI for more on this.

A part of identifying The Beast is helped by figuring out who is spoken of in Revelation 17. There we see a woman riding on The Beast who has a name of mystery on her forehead that is “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” She looks pretty, dressed in purple and scarlet (the colors of ruling or royalty), with jewelry to match, but her main claim to fame is sexual immorality and murder of God’s people. She is seated on many waters picturing peoples, multitudes, nations and languages, so this woman is everywhere on earth. She is riding The Beast but he and the kings who give him allegiance (the horns) hate her and destroy her.

The Catholic Church has been identified as mystery religion Babylon, but that is too limited. Catholicism has only been around for about 1,800 years, and has not covered the planet that thoroughly during those centuries. This mystery religion has been around at least since the time of the tower of Babel (Hebrew meaning gate of the deity; Babylon is Greek for the same city/kingdom), which is where we see the record of the first idolatrous behavior (although there was probably much before the flood too). I think it is more likely that this woman is all religion that leads away from God with idolatry, sexual immorality and blasphemy. This includes all paganism, all idolatry, all witchcraft and voodoo and the like. It can even include the church (otherwise Jesus would not be warning the seven churches of the teachings of Balaam, Jezebel, and the Nicolaitans). Idolatry is cheating on God, with or without a statue. The modern church is certainly cheating on God, which will put them right in the same chariot with Babylon on the Beast. The Beast tolerates the false religion for a while, but he wants the first place of worship so he destroys Babylon because she’s in the way. It’s like that movie The Highlander. There can be only one. The Catholic Church certainly is pagan and idolatrous, and part of the mystery religion Babylon, but does not carry the whole burden by itself. There are many other churches and synagogues that are joined to her in immorality.

So identifying The Beast is kind of an exercise in futility for the church. You can’t very well find his hiding place when you’re looking everywhere but in the church building. Inside, this guy will indeed be a ravenous beast, but on the outside he will appear as a fluffy little sheep. He won’t appear to be the big bad wolf that most people are expecting. He will speak beguiling words; words that are close to God’s but just a little bit off at first. Just like the words of most church leaders and followers of today. He will say things that sound good and appeal to our self-seeking pride, and because the average Christian will not be grounded in the Word of God they will be willing to accept him and his instead-of-Christ prophet even to receiving the mark. They will “believe in him” so much they will gladly do whatever he says. They will be enamored of his teachings on sexual immorality, tolerance and unconditional love because these teachings will mirror their own. He will be able to quote the Bible better than most Christians, albeit with his own twisted slant and matching almost word for word the text of many sermons. He will mix science with sorcery and probably claim to be the next evolutionary step for all mankind. The image fashioned by the anti-Christ could very likely be a clone who will speak as the serpent did in the Garden, offering a path to be “like God.”

Believers will need to be filled with the whole of the Word, have patient endurance, reject the teachings of Jezebel and her ilk, and hear what the Spirit says to the congregations that make up the Body. Start tuning your eyes and ears to see Him and listen for His instructions by taking in all of His Words and doing them. Now. While there’s still time. Repent, go through the open door, buy from Him gold refined by fire and white garments to cover the shame of nakedness along with some salve to anoint your eyes. Be zealous and repent.

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At: Romans 13 through 16

New up on our Youtube channel is the fourth video for Romans covering chapters 13 through 16. The truth seeker will enjoy the comments on the famous Romans 14 chapter helping to clarify the plain meaning stated by Paul that he is talking about opinions, not God’s Word. Taken all together it is clear that Paul has a high regard for the Law and many suggestions for application. He “upholds the law” (Romans 3:31) rather than trying to change Scripture. For Paul the “law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14) and he “agrees that the law is good;” (Romans 7:16 and others) and he “delights in the law of God, in [his] inner being” (Romans 7:22) although he finds that the “law of sin” is waging war with the “law of his mind” (God’s law) (Romans 7:23) making living it out very difficult. Freedom (Romans 8) from the impossible struggle of trying to earn our own righteousness comes from the sacrifice of the Christ, who has paid the penalty for our disobedience and given us a way back to intimacy with our Father and Messiah.

Instead of rejecting the law as many in the church suggest, he wants us to present our bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) by renewing our mind, testing to discern the will of God (Romans 12:2) and holding fast to what is good (Romans 12:9) which includes God’s law (which he said before). Paul reminds us that the first word of the law is love (love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength) and love fills up the Law (Romans 13:10). This is all included in his admonition to “put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh.” By the time we get to Romans 14 it is obvious that the subject is a continuation of principles laid down in the previous 13 chapters.

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

Video ‘The Second Sermon on the Mount’

Did you know that the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 was actually the second that Jesus gave on a mount? The first sermon on the mount was back a ways, when Israel came out of Egypt. You’ll find that the two are very similar if you compare them with an open mind. Check out our video for more.

Shalom
Bruce