Some concerns about the top 50 best selling "Christian" books of 2016.
The Evangelical Publishing company in January released a list of the top 50 best-selling Christian books of 2016. I'm not sure what the right word is to express my reaction: Disappointment? Discouragement? Disgust? Concern? Shock? Truth be told, I felt some mixture of all of these as I scanned the books on this list. One Christian author put it well when he called this list an "indictment." This list is an indictment on American Christianity and the sad state that it is in.
What's so troubling? To be fair, there are many books on the list which I'm sure are just fine, and some that are good. Many of them I haven't read but am familiar enough to believe with some degree of confidence that they would be fine reads. (Although notably, I didn't see a single book that teaches Biblical doctrine or theology in any serious way. This, at least in my mind, is symptomatic of the experience based Christianity that plagues the American church today). What I found troubling was the presence of several books that contain teaching that is definitely outside of the bounds of orthodox Christianity, and yet are bestselling "Christian" books. Most notable were several titles by Joel Osteen, several versions of the book "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young, and "The Shack" (now a movie currently in theatres). My goal here is not to review these books and the theological problems with the views they express, as that has been done adequately elsewhere. Rather, like my previous post, it is simply to highlight a concern that I have that many Christians are reading and being influenced by "Christian" books that aren't really Christian at all, seemingly without realizing the problem. And this isn't a problem that is "out there" in broader evangelical Christianity, it is very much a problem in conservative, reformed Christianity. Kathy Keller, in her review of Jesus Calling, says that many people have asked their church (PCA) to put it on their book table!
In the upcoming months, I will be highlighting different books that I think should be best-sellers, and in my opinion are books worth reading for encouragement and up building in the Christian faith. In the meantime, a reminder that we do have a "recommended reading list" on our website that contains books worth reading on a variety of different topics. And as always, if you have a question or doubts about an author or book, ask your elders!