Some books and authors cause more than their fair share of commotion. The Church hasn’t always welcomed new books, new writers and certainly not new ideas. Here are five books that might have got their authors in hot water!
Love Wins - Rob Bell 2011
“Will only a few select people make it to Heaven and will billions and billions of people burn forever in Hell?”
The charismatic former pastor of Mars Hill US mega-church had already lit a fire beneath the orthodox with his previous books, especially Velvet Elvis and Sex God. In the run up to publishing Love Wins, Bell released a YouTube video which posed the question: “Will only a few select people make it to Heaven and will billions and billions of people burn forever in Hell?” Even before his Sunday Times bestseller hit the bookshops its expected message was the subject of fierce debate. Christians right across the theological spectrum wrote a mixture of furious and wildly supportive articles and blogs.
Reactions in print: Many: including Bell’s own Love Wins Companion. Among the earliest reactions is Francis Chan's Erasing Hell - although the author claims to have started writing it long before Love Wins was released. Jon Zen's Christ Minimalised was billed as a response to Bell's work.
The Lost Message of Jesus - Steve Chalke 2004
“The cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse - a vengeful father, punishing his son for an offence he has not even committed.”
With one sentence, the British founder of Oasis became a heretic for mainstream evangelicals around the world: “The cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse - a vengeful father, punishing his son for an offence he has not even committed.” Denying the doctrine of penal substitution - that God’s anger at sin was placed on Jesus, provoked US Baptist John Piper (What Jesus Demands From The World) to call it: “One of the most infamous and tragic paragraphs written by a church leader.” In contrast, acclaimed New Testament scholar and former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, (Simply Jesus, The New Testament For Everyone) praised the book and defended Chalke’s interpretation.
Reactions in print: Pierced for Our Transgressions - A collection of writings in a reply to "an increasing number of theologians" who deny penal substitution. Includes a foreword from John Piper.
Leadership Is Male - David Pawson 1990
“We must stop putting women in positions of leadership over men.”
David Pawson’s title gives it all away. Insisting that feminism is the product of women refusing to submit didn’t go down well. Pawson himself admits, “Many will see this teaching as an anachronism, hopelessly out of date.” His most controversial statements include, “The link between dominant mothers and homosexual sons is already recognised”, and “The male represents the divine side of the partnership, the female represents the human”. His resolve that, “we must stop putting women in positions of leadership over men,” caused as much outrage then as it would now.
Reactions in print: Jacques R. More's book of almost the same title - but with an all important question mark, returns to the original Greek New Testament in search of a meaningful interpretation.
Real Marriage – Mark & Grace Driscoll 2011
“The repeated command across all scripture that wives respectfully submit to their husbands.”
This is the marriage book that puts men back on top. Liberally quoting the Bible, the Driscolls invoke “the repeated command across all scripture that wives respectfully submit to their husbands.” For them, this is submission in all aspects of married life; from the bedroom to the bank account. With their absolute picture of what marriage is, and an insistence on different but complementary roles for one man and one woman, Real Marriage is explicit on topics most preachers would blush just to think about. Endorsed in Britain by Terry and Wendy Virgo (new Frontiers, Brighton) the book is praised as ‘an extraordinary book for a bewildered generation.’
Reactions in print: Too new to have sparked a book in reply, the alternative to a relationship tied up in rules is one based on communication. Emerson Eggrichs’ Language of Love and Respect, and Gary Chapman’s Five Love Langauges have this covered.
The Bible - Various authors c1400BC - 100AD
“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: he is always convinced that it says what he means.” – George Bernard Shaw
The book that more than any other divides Christians today. Regarded as inerrant in every detail by some, and in varying degrees by most others, no single interpretation is universally accepted. At its most basic, the book is collection of historical records, legal documents, theological exposition and imaginative moral story telling. Most Christians do agree that, at its highest level, the Bible it is a unique work yet to be fully explored and exploited.
Reactions in print: Countless and continuous. However, none have ousted the Bible from its position as the World’s all-time number one most influential and bestselling book.
Your least burnable book
- What Christian authored book have you read that you think may have landed the author in hot water?
- What made it stand out for you, and why do you think others should read it?
August 15th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes