If only you could see the comments we delete on our social media pages. Actually, be glad you can’t.
We’re on the front lines of a public facing ministry, so we expect that satanic nonsense. Literally, satanists love to comment on our stuff. They share bizarre pictures and denigrate the gospel. That really doesn’t come as a surprise.
The really surprising comments are the spiteful messages that we receive from other Christians. Probably the most common is, “We don’t need no more books. I got THE book—the Bible, and that should be all there is.”
This seems to come from a relatively small but very vocal corner of the Internet. It’s curious to me that these folks consume material from Facebook. Their objection seems to be specifically to books.
We could simply dismiss it as a fringe minority, but I think it does raise a question worth considering. There are a lot of books in the world already, do we really need any more? Is the Bible not enough?
Surprise: we think we need more books.
Unfortunately, there’s no crack cocaine in the bible. There are no guns, no television, no social media, no corporations, no capitalism, and no democracy. Even abortion, which is a bedrock issue for many American Christians, is nowhere to be found. Of course there are timeless principles in the Bible that we can apply to these issues, but sometimes that takes some doing.
We need stories that show us how to relate to these issues and we need teachers to tell us how to relate our modern lives to the Bible. Books are an excellent medium for that.
We’ve been writing books for a long time now, is there really still a shortage of books which already do that? Yes, actually.
Culture changes, but so do language and the way we tell stories, even in a short period of time.
Two of my favorite writers of practical theology are Dietrich Bonhoeffer and AW Tozer. These sources are not yet 100 years old, but the language is dense because our language has changed. Tozer was an American writing in English, but I really don’t speak the same language he did. We don’t use some of those words in the same way. Even the way sentences are constructed is unfamiliar to me. I have to think my way through them.
That said, non-fiction books hold up way longer than fiction even. The Lord of the Rings would not be published or widely received if published for the first time today. Our expectations for storytelling have changed. While some principles of story are timeless, readers are relating to stories differently today than they were even 40 years ago.
There are a lot of twentieth century authors I love, but they would not attract new audiences if published today. I’m saying that just based on writing style, let alone the fact that the characters don’t carry cell phones, listen to rap music, or use Twitter. The language and the culture the characters live in are increasingly difficult to relate to.
We don’t ever have to throw out the old. But we do need to recognize that our books have a particular effective lifecycle. Especially if our goal is to impact people outside of the Christian bubble, we need to constantly release updated materials that will connect with today’s readers.
Which brings me to the most compelling reason we need to keep creating new books: the fruit.
Almost everyone, even people who aren’t strong readers, have a book that touched them. Oftentimes, it’s a modern book.
A man I admire in the faith read Left Behind twenty years ago and it brought him to Christ and changed his life. And that’s not even a good book! (I joke…kind of.) What book changed your perspective in an important way?
A few years ago I helped an author develop and release a book about his struggle with mental health and suicide. Shortly after release we started receiving messages that said things like, “I was planning to kill myself, but your book changed me.” That book was not a national bestseller, but even on a small scale it changed real lives.
Books provide friendship to the lonely, they raise up the oppressed, they touch our empathetic core and stir us in a way that other media cannot.
Of course the Bible occupies a higher tier of authority than any other book we might produce. I’m not suggesting anyone can create new scripture. But books, both fiction and nonfiction, have tremendous capacity to carry the gospel and change lives.
We need books. They’re important. That means we need Spirit-filled people writing books.
That’s why we’re here. That’s what we do every day.
When the haters come, whether they’re satanists or misguided believers, we know that if you change the writers, you change the world.
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