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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
Index To Merchandising The Gospel

 

003white  Index To The Contemporary Church

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Christian-Merchandising

The Religious Retailing Era

Pushing The Tacky, The Trashy, and The Trivial

    Evangelism Today
    Merchandising The Gospel Or ‘Christianity is BIG business’ ... If God gives His wisdom away free, what makes ours so valuable we have to put a price on it? The ‘Religious Retailing Era’ has done away with... “freely ye have received, freely give”.

    Selling Faith Most if not all of the products being marketed to Christians, are simply repackaged versions of what is already available to the culture at large. Christian musical trends follow closely on the heels of emerging trends in secular music. Christians have their own Christian psychology, toned down somewhat to be sure, but still following closely the latest novel ideal sweeping its secular counterpart. Hip Christian clothing, Christian weight loss regimens, and even a Christian Rubik’s cube await discriminating Christians on the cutting edge of society. It is about being fundamentally different. In attempting to copy every element of contemporary culture and rework it into a Christianized context, we run the risk of becoming so relevant that we are irrelevant. it is important to keep in mind that at its heart Christianity is not about having a cleaner version of what the world has.

    Virtual Christianity We talk fervently about "reaching people," about bringing the good news to a new generation that doesn’t read books or listen to long sermons. But do we really think that once we’ve contributed to their ongoing entertainment, albeit with the gospel, they will willingly and easily turn into reflective Christians that meditate on God’s written Word? What steps are we taking to make sure this happens?

    Selling the Anointing is nothing more than a contemptible and disreputable way to make even more money (Below)

    TBN: Under the guise of Christianity, TBN is probably the largest promoter of heresy today.


    The Movies
    The Chronicles of Narnia If it is true, as some Christians have alleged, that The Chronicles of Narnia are an illustrious biblical metaphor... Wonderful adventures that filled with Biblical allegory and allusion, why do they draw as much from pagan mythology as they do the Bible, and worse, why does one of the main characters Mr. Tumnus bears an astonishing similarity to the Greco/Roman fertility deity Pan, one of the most enduring and compelling symbols for the anti-Christ

    Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ Who Really Put Jesus On The Cross?
     

    The Video Games
    Left Behind: Eternal Forces A new “Christian” video game: Left Behind: Eternal Forces. The game aims to make a broadly appealing video game, similar to Grand Theft Auto; it is a “real-time” strategy game that “features plenty of biblical smiting, albeit with high-tech weaponry as players battle the forces of the Anti-Christ in a smoldering world approaching Armageddon.” Warriors shout "Praise the Lord!" as they blow infidels away, and players can switch to the side of the Antichrist to kill Christians.


    The Books and The Bookstores
    The Shack The Shack is a New York Times best seller with well over a million copies in print. It is Christian fiction that attempts to present a Christian worldview through the genre of religious fiction. However responses to The Shack range from eulogy to heresy, with some calling it "scripturally incorrect" and downright "dangerous." So how Christian is it really?

    Beyond Mere Christianity: An Assessment of C. S. Lewis. A full consideration of Lewis needs to include his strengths and his weaknesses. A discerning reader can recognize that many of his writings and strategies are helpful and are a valuable contribution to apologetics and theology, while also recognizing that some of his teachings go beyond the scope of mere Christianity.

    Beware of ‘Christian’ Bookstores Warning Christians and their families that we have a long-held, reoccurring, hidden and horrendous problem in the so-called "Christian Bookstore" industry; and just because businesses, ministries, organizations and their leaders have the words "Christian," "Family," "Baptist," or "Religious" in their names or on their résumés, it does not mean all of the products they sell and distribute are biblical or even safe.

    Christian Publishing Industry The Christian publishing industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Companies once run by godly Christians have been bought out by powerful secular media czars and made part of massive business empires. Marketing, not ministry, is the driving force behind most of the industry these days. (Below)


    Also See

    Veggie Tales
    In the midst of all the cultural and spiritual confusion, it is understandable why parents would show interest when a movie, like Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, hits the big screen. After all, not only is the movie about a biblical character, it is also void of sex, violence, and bad language, but...

    Pictures of Christ It is futile to deny the influence exerted upon mind and heart by a picture of Christ therefore the question of the propriety of pictorial representations of the Saviour is one that merits examination

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Selling the Anointing
is nothing more than a contemptible and disreputable way to make even more money. From Marilyn’s Hickey’s ‘anointed’ oil, cornmeal, red thread, prayer cloths, and Christmas stars to Morris Cerullo’s apparent ability to transfer a ‘double portion’ of the unnamed and unexplained ‘anointing’ through a mantle he will send the faithful (After a double portion seed gift to Morris Cerullo?).

Perhaps Rod Parsley takes the proverbial cake since he seems to believe (or hopes you will) that an item such as a cheap sword can be anointed with the Holy Spirit, to be passed on to anyone with $1000. His website used to say (in 2003.. The wording has changed slightly since then)

    “...with the symbol of the cross of christ engraved in the blade and on the hilt this sword will be presented to you when you join me as an Armourbearer with your gift of $1000 or more. In addition, when you become my Armourbearer in 2004 . . . You’ll be my special guest at Dominion Camp Meeting and other ministry events, you’ll receive a direct line to leave your prayer requests, so I can stand in prayer for your greatest needs -- plus! You’ll be enrolled as my Breakthrough Covenant Partner and will receive the many special benefits of this partnership as well. But most importantly, this sword represents the anointing God has placed on my life – an anointing that will be imparted to you when I commission you as my 2004 Armourbearer and send you this stunning sword”. (Emphasis Added).

As of October 2005 this page says

    More Mighty . . . More Fearless . . . More Blessed . . . and More Victorious! (Emphasis In Original)

    When you enroll as a 2005 Breakthrough Covenant partner.

    God has declared to Pastor Rod Parsley that his inner-circle spiritual warriors, the Breakthrough Covenant Partners, will experience anointing and blessing like never before. It is the Isaiah 54 covenant! So renew your holy covenant as a 2005 Breakthrough Partner today”... “This sword symbolizes the anointing – the sword of the Spirit – that Pastor Parsley imparts to you as his Breakthrough Covenant Partner”. (Emphasis Added).

[See What The Bible Says About The Anointing]

 

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Christian Publishing Industry
How tabloid-journalist moguls took control of what you are offered to read
(Phil Johnson phillipjohnson.blogspot.com)

I have been involved in publishing for most of my adult life, and I love the historic influence Christian literature has made on the church. But the Christian publishing industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Companies once run by godly Christians have been bought out by powerful secular media czars and made part of massive business empires. Marketing, not ministry, is the driving force behind most of the industry these days.

Christian publishers have eagerly and deliberately fomented evangelicalism's bizarre craving for more and more fads and programs. Trust me: no one loves the Fad-Driven® Church more than the Profit-Driven® publishing industry.

There are some blessed exceptions, of course. There are still a few good and godly men who still have influence in Christian publishing. But they are relatively rare. They are drowning entities in an industry that is out of control. If you don't believe me, visit the annual convention of the Christian Booksellers' Association, spend an afternoon on the display floor, and take inventory of the dross that dominates the evangelical marketplace. It seems almost everything currently in style—and everything that hopes to become the next great evangelical fad—is tacky, trashy, and trivial. And the unscrupulous cheapjacks who manufacture and peddle this stuff hype their rubbish with marketing machines that rival anything in the secular world.

When it comes to books, have you noticed how few truly timeless and significant volumes are being published? That's because nowadays, decisions about what to publish are driven by marketeers who have little concern for the spiritual or editorial content of a book. I have sat in meetings with publishers while their marketing experts vetted concepts for new books. "That one's too biblical." (Those are the exact words one of these Christian kitsch-peddlers actually once said in my presence to a roomful of nodding experts from the Christian publishing industry. He was talking about a book proposal from a well-known Christian author. The book was later published anyway and went on to become a best-seller despite the professional marketers' almost unanimously tepid feelings about it.) Christian publishers have even been known to remove biblical content from books by Christian authors (especially books on leadership, parenting, and similar topics perceived to have "broad secular appeal"). The marketing specialists think de-Christianized books will appeal to a bigger audience.

That is precisely how all these fads are crafted. Content is deliberately dumbed down—purposely made soft, generic, and non-threatening. The message mustn't threaten anyone's comfort zone. It also doesn't rebuke anyone's sin; it won't embarrass anyone's worldliness; it and it isn't going to challenge anyone's shallowness. That's the way both the publishers and the people want it. [See Section The Contemporary Church]

That is the culture the evangelical movement deliberately created when it accepted the notion that religion is something to be peddled and sold to consumers like a commodity. That was a major philosophical shift that created an environment where unspiritual and unscrupulous men could easily make merchandise of the gospel. It created a whole generation of pseudo-evangelicals, who are like "children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men" (Ephesians 4:14).

That's a perfect biblical description of the faddism that has overtaken the evangelical movement in recent years. 

 

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Promise Keepers:The budget of Promise Keepers for 1996 was $96.4 million. Tickets to most of the rallies cost $60 and much merchandizing of books, tapes, CDs, T-shirts, caps, pens, etc. occurs at the rallies. Sales of merchandise accounted for $16.4 million in revenues in 1997. Many have criticized the admission tickets and merchandizing as commercialization of religion. Promise Keepers counter that staging a rally in a sports arena is an expensive proposition. Almost three-quarters of their 1996 budget when to paying the costs of rallies, training, and publications. Skeptics question the cost of well-paid musicians and preachers who come to the rallies, in part, to promote sales of their music and books”. (http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/promkeep.html. Link is no longer valid)

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