and Joseph Chambers
Internet, the Economy and the Apostasy = three elements that spell out the
decline in the Christian publishing market. The recent bookseller’s
conference reflects today’s atmosphere in publishing at a time when the
publishing industry is taking a hit. Christianity Today has had to
stop some of its sister publications and there’s no saying how long both
CT and Charisma can keep going while the amount of pages and
ads in those magazines diminish. And as more and more people are leaving
traditional churches, they are also reading more Oprah and less C.S.
An anonymous source reported that back
in the 1980s, the Christian Booksellers Association’s (CBA) annual
national conferences used to attract an average of 7,000 visitors. The
recent conference, now renamed ICRS, International Christian Retail Show,
had an average of 700 attending, according to the same source. (Perhaps,
but only if you exclude the people manning the booths and just count
bookstore owners who are declining.)
The ICRS held last week in Denver is a
veritable snapshot of the condition of the visible church today under one
roof. Prosperity teachers such as Larry Huch and Marilyn Hickey
autographed their latest books. Books by Emergent authors such as
Brian McLaren and Richard Foster were abundant. Faith teachers like Fred
Price and the late Kenneth Hagin had fancy booths - Hagin’s booth had a
big supply of chocolate candy to lure in the buyers. Faith evangelist
Reinhard Bonnke walked around with an unwelcome expression on his face.
Catholics nuns manned a booth selling contemplative prayer paraphernalia
such as icons, statues, candle holders and incense burners. And the
“former” cult, the Local Church, was there now that they have been
given a clean bill of health by some would-be apologists.
The biggest draw of the conference
appeared to be Mormon celebrity, Marie Osmond, signing copies of her new
inspirational CD. She brought her own camera crew to capture the moment
when an endless line of Bible-believing Christians, so-called, formed a
line to greet the idol of Utah.
book by another show-biz celebrity, actress
Candace Cameron-Bure, best known as D.J. Tanner, the eldest daughter on
Full House, is a devotional book for busy moms called, “Be Still and Let
Your Nail Polish Dry.”
I was there to do a book signing for my
new book, “The Fleecing of Christianity: Televangelism in Bible
Prophecy,” in the Anomalos Publishing booth within STL Distributors. I
would say that was the section with the best selection of Christian books
in the entire place. STL is distributor for many smaller publishing
TBN had an impressive
booth to promote their Orlando amusement park, the Holy Land Experience.
The TBN crest was mounted high above
porticoes resembling ancient buildings from Bible times. They showed
highlights on a monitor of visiting preachers and biblically clothed
actors performing at the HLE. The booth was manned
by four men in biblical garb: Jesus, Peter, the high
priest Aaron, and a Roman centurion. I had my most fun talking to those
The high priest has been with HLE since
before TBN purchased it from Marv Rosenthal. “Aaron” is a former
foreign missionary and seemed very sincere in his efforts to use his job
to lead people to the Lord. When I questioned him about TBN’s influence
with bad teachers and gaudy sets, he dismissed those concerns as not
affecting him and his call to witness to visitors.
“Jesus” was not as impressive. His
family is friends with Benny Hinn’s family and he supports the get-rich
prosperity message, reasoning “wouldn’t you rather a preacher of the
Gospel like Benny live in a 20 million dollar mansion than someone like
Donald Trump?” I responded that we should ask what would Jesus do? To
that he had no answer, knowing that this world treated Jesus badly and he
did not live in a palace.
I gave both “Jesus” and “Aaron”
each a copy of my book. I told “Jesus” he could pass it along to Benny
Hinn when he was done reading it.
I came home from the ICRS with lots of
books and trinkets. My favorite sample was of a stuffed animal - a lamb
that resembles the lamb on the cover of my book. It’s cute and squishy.
As in the visible church, there were
good and bad books. In fact, some publishers sell solid teaching right up
alongside of heretical books. For them, I”m sure the bottom line is the
dollar sign. If the real Jesus was there, I can picture him turning over
the moneychangers’ tables.
One very thick book caught my attention.
It was at the B&H Publisher’s booth - it was an anthology called,
“Tough-Minded Christianity,” a play on the title “Christianity for
the Tough Minded,” written by Lutheran apologist John Warwick
Montgomery. The new book was a tribute to Montgomery’s legacy featuring
such luminaries as J.I. Packer, Norman Geisler, John Ankerberg, and Rod
Rosenbladt, among other academics.
Part of Montgomery’s legacy that is
missing in the tribute is how in the late 1980s he abandoned his abused
wife, the mother of his children, divorcing her without her knowing it and
then leaving her desolate going on to marry a harpist and moved overseas
until the heat was off. Also missing was how he was kicked out of his own
law school due to this marital fraud and his treatment of employees at the
then Simon Greenleaf School of Law.
I suppose real heroes are hard to find
for “Christian” academia - It’s either John “Warlike” Montgomery
or apostate Tony Campolo or pretender Leonard Sweet. Excuse me for venting
my righteous indignation but everything I wrote can be documented. Some
Christians have such short memories.
Overall, the trip to the ICRS was a good
opportunity to network with like-minded people - and there were some of
those. Those in my party had a swell time of fellowship and even some good
music. And the Denver Convention Center was a beautiful place with a
4-story-tall blue bear staring in the window.