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Best-Selling Snake Oil


Dr. Jay Worth Allen

I’m a Christian.  And, along with many of my Fellows, we are seen by some as, “Rubes.”  The title, “Rube” is an old-time phrase, coined in the merciless culture of the Traveling Carnival gangs that roamed from town to town in the early 20th Century.  Every stop on the circuit was just another chance to fleece another crowd of free-spending “Rubes” - Hicks, Yokels, Marks, Dullards, who buy diamonds from Gypsies, and anyone over the age of nine, who still believes in his heart that all politicians are honest and would never lie on TV.

These people are everywhere.  They are Legion, soon to be a majority, and 10,000 more are being born every day.  It was P.T. Barnum, the Circus-man, who explained the real secret of his commercial success by repeating his now-famous motto, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and his job was to keep them amused.  Which he did - with a zeal that has never been equaled in the history of American show business.  That is, until now.

Modern Christian Authors, Publishers and Book-Sellers have snapped-up P.T.’s Big Top; and his Blockbuster Gamut is up and running again.  And these peddlers know what “Rubes” want:  dignified Freaks, well-dressed Clowns, and spine-tingling wild Animals.  Looking at the list of best-selling Christian books, with self-serving titles like “So Long, Insecurity” and “The Me I Want to Be,” one wonders how much longer it will be before non-Christian authors are on the list - maybe some of them are now.  Who knows?  And their publishers don’t care.

For six thousand years Satan has had full opportunity afforded him to study fallen human nature to discover our weakest points and to learn how best to make us do his bidding.  The Devil knows full well how to dazzle us by the attraction of power, and how to make us cower before its terrors.  He knows how to gratify our craving for knowledge and how to satisfy our taste for refinement and culture; he can delight our ear with melodious music and captivate our eye with entrancing beauty.  If he could transport the Saviour from the wilderness to a mountain, in a moment of time, and show Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, he is no novice in the art of presenting alluring objects before his victims today.  There’s a “Rube” born every minute.

Just two days ago I was given a book by Eugene H. Peterson, “Living the Resurrection” - this book would be comical, if it weren’t so tragic to see where so-called Christian writers are sitting right now.  You can read this book in a couple of hours because it’s written for Biblically Illiterate Government-Schooled third-graders; wide-eyed “Rubes,” who are under the impression that “The Resurrection” is a new British Punk-Band.  Peterson, like so many Christian authors today, aims for the lowest common denominator and taps into the human love of . . . self.  After reading this book, I wondered if Peterson ever walks away from his soi-disant intellectual Ivory-Tower Magic Mirror.  This guy is a  buffoon theologically.

One of Peterson’s literary claims to fame is his commercially rhapsodized, The Message bible.  I read Greek, and, with a little help from my Rabbi buddy, I can translate Hebrew, so what are my thoughts on Peterson’s The Message?  It’s a joke-book theologically, written by an enlightened Jester.  It’s a fallacious transliteration, which must be avoided at all cost!  Simply because it’s a transcriptional abhorrent collection of hallucinations of an intellectual fool - not a Bible!  The Message has been birthed from within popular professing Christianity, which invites the reader to learn more about Jesus from a pluralistic perspective - amalgamating Christ with the world.  Its goal is to establish a Jesus (along with His Church), who is acceptable to people of all faiths - or no faith.  Avoid!  Avoid!  Avoid!  (For more information, see “Building The End-Times Apostate Church”).

Sadly, the Christian publishing Cartels make sure that personality-soaked authors, like Peterson, get center stage.  This naturally shrinks the opportunities for authors, who actually have something Biblically Truthful to say, but might not have access to Botox, Capped-Teeth or Heavy Media coaching.

Witness the 30-million-or-so best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” by Rick Warren.  A Christian Title masquerading as a benevolence-inducing read, when in fact it is just as self-serving as, say, a Deepak Chopra tome.  I’ve read “The Purpose Driven Life,” and I’ve also seen “Its” Theologically-challenged hold on much of the evangelical world.  This book is for Used-Car-Salesmen, not the Church!  Harsh?  No more so than the mood among Christian publishers, who foster this kind of Leadership.

The most compelling authors on Christian best-seller lists are the dead ones, such as C.S. Lewis and Henrietta Mears.  They wrote in a time when people weren’t so Biblically Illiterate.  Today, authors “write down” to an audience that largely have no Biblical knowledge, which perpetuates Biblical Illiteracy.

This Illiteracy is why Christian authors on the Bestseller Lists today can actually change Scripture to fit points they want to make in their books - actually changing the words of the Bible.  They create square pegs and hammer them into any pop-psychology, round-hole the Bestselling Christian Author wants to make.  “The Shack” is a very good example.  When this trumped-up style actually gains traction among readers - Surprise! - “Said” author becomes a franchise, a machine for the publisher and the reading public are then treated to at least one volume of this kind of clap-trap Snake Oil each year.  Christian Bookstores stock ‘em, promote ‘em and sell ‘em - to every “Rube” they can flimflam.

Give me the Holy Bible any day of the week!


Best-Selling Snake Oil
Published:  3 November 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.

Published:  4 November 2010 in the Faith Column of The County Journal.
(Part One of the author's END-TIMES APOSTATE CHURCH Series)

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