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QUESTION: Is the church too commercialized?



ANSWER: Even Jesus had to deal with this question.  In His day, to make sacrifices “easier,” the owners of livestock brought their animals to the Temple square.  Now, to buy or sell in the Temple required, you guessed it, “holy money.”  So moneychangers set themselves up to exchange pagan money (Roman) for holy – making a small profit along the way, of course.


Three of the Gospels record Jesus’ reaction to this façade of holiness, “…Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves,” Mark 11:17 (cf. also Matt 21:13; Luke 19:46; Jer 17:11).


I have on my shelf a book titled, “THE $ELLING OF JE$U$.”  Printed in 1985, it recounts the story of a man and wife whom God allowed to fulfill a dream of owning a Christian bookstore.  They wanted nothing more than to minister to their community with sound biblical literature, but soon found there was more demand for “14k gold stars of David with bagels in the middle” (his sarcasm) than for great Christian books.  According to his experience what most people really wanted was “low-fat gospel” and “Jesus junk.”  They refused to carry “every wind of doctrine” and soon had “Christians” from every quarter against them.


Refusing to become a compromising merchant of “holy hardware,” Victor Bryditxki and his wife were soon drummed out of business by the very ones they came to serve. They were boycotted by the local religious community until forced to close.  An adult bookstore is now located where they use to sell Bibles (with apparently much less objection from the local religious community).


Surveys indicate that not more than 10% of active church members ever enter a Christian bookstore.  Of the 10% who do go in, only 1% ever purchases serious books.  And another startling statistic is that 85% of those who do buy the books, are women!  I’m thrilled the ladies are buying them, but where have all the men gone?  Why are men overall not as concerned with their spiritual condition as women?


The next time you go into any Christian bookstore, ask the clerk what percentage of their profits come from books.  A Christian bookstore would close down if it only sold books.  Money is made on the fads: “WWJD” bracelets, door mats with the name Jesus to wipe your feet on, Jesus mud-flaps for fenders to collect road dirt, “Christian” [sic] T-shirts that push the limits - “Be Wiser” that looks like “Budweiser” from a distance (???), how about “Jesus beat the Devil with a big ugly stick” – say what? Has no one read Ezekiel (22:26; 44:23)?


Stickers, pins, tie tacs and posters are available that flat contradict Scripture (Exodus 20:4; Romans 1:23).  The books that sell are not doctrinal and apologetic but shallow and superficial (anything from angels to Christian psychology).  You can buy clothes for your doggy that say, “Jesus Loves Me,” idols or even music that sounds like it originated in Hell.  What’s going on in Christianity?  Is there no discernment?


In Mr. Bryditzki’s words, “The Christian bookstore is…between a rock and a hard place.  On one side is the publisher who wants to push ‘what sells,’ regardless of how trashy or unscriptural or antichrist it is, and on the other side is the religious public who wants to buy the trash.”