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World Magazine reported the numbers a decade ago. “Christian publishers” have their share of the big money market. With the Prayer of Jabez, The Left Behind books, Rick Warren, plus a flood of topics from a variety of genres, “Bible Publishers” now print an assortment of big money makers. Do we detect the biblical root of all evil here? Obviously money connects some dots.

“Such numbers have caught the attention of even secular publishers and booksellers. Evangelical publishers have managed to turn out a steady stream of blockbusters in recent years, observes Business Week, making religion the hottest category in books.

“No longer are Christian bookstores the sole outlet for evangelical books. Now evangelical titles—from inspirational mediations to Christian fiction—can be found at Barnes & Nobles, airport bookstands, grocery stores, and Wal-Marts.”

[The money-driven/what sells secular publishing industry is very interested in the big-bucks market of religious books and particularly evangelical books. Must there not be an end-time blurring of the lines for the One-World Union to occur? Note this statement by World:] “Christian publishers are taking advantage of their newfound respectability in the publishing industry by opening new lines specifically designed to attract readers who are not necessarily Christians.” [Do we not want non-Christians reading Christian books? We note the continuation.]

“And the reverse is also true: Secular publishers are opening new lines specifically designed to cross over into the evangelical market.

“Not too many years ago, Christian titles were excluded from the mainstream publishing world. No matter how many copies a title from a Christian publisher might sell, it would never make the New York Times bestseller list. That influential cultural index only surveyed a carefully selected sampling of mainline bookstores, ever deigning to include Christian bookstores, and the mainline stores seldom deigned to carry books from Christian publishers.

“Now, Christian books enjoy a presence in the marketplace. But are they having an impact in the marketplace of ideas? Or does this commercial success come at the price of theological integrity?” [What about the “price of theological integrity?” Are the lines so blurred that this secular/sacred market has become one and the same?]

“Moody has a division called Northfield Press, which publishes self-help, business, and family-relationship books. NavPress has Piñon Press, which publishes self-help, family and adoption, and even medical books on Attention Deficit Disorder and dealing with stress. While NavPress titles assume that the reader is a believer, explains the website, the goal of Piñon Press is to present a biblical worldview to those outside the kingdom of God.

“Thomas Nelson is experimenting with tying in to another once-neglected but huge field: conservative politics. Nelson president and COO Mike Hyatt had long pushed for more sales in the broader market, a vision that bore fruit in the form of a partnership with WND Books, the book-publishing arm of WorldNetDaily, a conservative online news site. The imprint published edgy, politically conservative books that reflected, or at least didn’t conflict with, a Christian worldview.” [Yes, definitely do not conflict or ruffle any feathers. It must be acceptable, user-friendly, Market Driven. What about this line of thought?]

“Because they often report controversial history and current events, Nelson’s Current books also sometimes include coarse language. Because the books are intended for the mainstream market, we have a little more latitude there, Mr. Miller said. We don’t want the language to become gratuitous, but the story is the story. He added that Nelson currently uses salty or provocative language only when it’s relevant and appropriate to the truth of the subject. It’s not in your face all the time, he said.”

[The sacred takes on the secular and then what?] “Just as Christian publishers are trying to reach the secular audience, secular publishers are trying to reach the Christian audience—sometimes simply by buying a Christian publisher. That is what happened to Zondervan. Acquired by HarperCollins, it became part of the even bigger media empire of the international media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings range from Fox News to the Los Angeles Lakers. Secular publishers also form partnerships with Christian publishers, as Penguin/Putnam is doing with Strang Communications.

“And secular presses start religious divisions of their own, as with Time-Warner’s two new divisions. Random House, in another example, started WaterBrook. These ventures were not a case of a big company venturing into a market that it did not understand. Lee Hough, a Christian literary agent, said that these secular publishers brought in editors and staff with experience from Christian publishing companies. But the great financial resources and industry clout from the parent companies give them an advantage.

“Time-Warner in 2001 hired Rolf Zettersten, a senior executive at Thomas Nelson, to start Warner Faith. With his contacts, he signed best-selling Christian author Joyce Meyer, and with the Time-Warner distribution clout doubled her sales to 2 million. This  success story attracted other big name authors, including Joel Osteen, whose Lakewood Church in Houston is America’s largest.” [Is there any Bible that warns about this “yoking up?” But of course there must be a reason “Purpose” in all this. Certainly there is. Listen to this:]

“You want Christian writers to be writing on the level as in the regular market. Mr. Arnold agrees: Most traditional Christian fiction was less focused on the art of story and more focused on an agenda-driven approach, he said. The goal of many authors was to ‘teach’ the reader a doctrine through an often one-dimensional story. Ironically, it often wasn’t a prejudice against Christian content that caused most of these novels to be rejected in the general market—the stories simply did not pass the test of great fiction. [“Teach the reader a doctrine.” Fancy that. Certainly Doctrine must not precede dollars! Listen to the following observation made in the article:]

“I am nowhere near as concerned about the effect of fewer Christian books being sold in Christian bookstores as I am about the poor theology being taught in the bestselling Christian books, said Brett Venable, a Christian bookstore manager. It appears to me that the worst thing to happen is not the closing of Christian stores as a result of unfair business practices by publishers, but rather the propagation of loose theology making Christians more ‘spiritual’ but less godly.

“Indeed, it is hard to accuse secular publishers of watering down Christian theology when Christian publishers have been churning out de-gendered Bible translations, Christless moralism, “have faith in yourself” tracts, and sentimental uplift—oblivious to sin, grace, and salvation—and all presented as Christian inspiration.

“The secular giant Random House is owned by Bertelsmann AG, a German media mega-conglomerate that got its start in 1835 as a publisher of Bibles, hymnbooks, and revival resources. The King James Bible – including the dispensationalist Scofield Reference edition – was published by Oxford University Press. And most of the great Christian authors published their works through secular presses. This was true well into the 1960s, from Catherine Marshall’s A Man Called Peter and Christy (McGraw Hill) to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters (Macmillan).

“Having our novels sell well in the general market is a way for us to salt and light through the power of story…. The great news is we’re succeeding beyond our wildest dreams, said Mr. Arnold.

[Will the “wildest dreams” become a nightmare and a part of the confusion and blur lead to none other than prophetic fulfillment? Maybe if we stuck with THE BOOK, God’s BOOK instead of the publishing proliferation, the devilish dangers would be obvious.]

(This is a partial reprint from The Voice in the Wilderness article referencing World Magazine, July 2/9,2005, by Gene Edward Veith and Lynn Vincent. Obviously much of the subtle invasion of 2000-2005 is now an acceptable norm! Church after Church has a “NO PREACH” list for the pulpit. Careful, you have entered the Church of the itching ear!)