I read a lot. I’ve been ordering Christian books from Christian publishers for years. Over the couple of years, though, I’ve become really concerned about some of the books Christian publishers are putting out…and convicted about my own failure to exercise discernment in what I choose to read.
I always used to assume that if a book came from a Christian publisher, it was safe. If I read a Nicholas Sparks book, my guard was up and I went through it with a critical eye. But if something came from a Christian publishing house? I let myself relax and enjoy it. I basically turned off my discernment because I trusted the source.
This all came to a screeching halt about two years ago, when a wildly popular “Christian” book was recommended to me. It had become a New York Times bestseller and continues to be incredibly successful. (This alone probably should have been a red flag, right?) The author has since released a follow-up book, is an in-demand speaker at leadership conferences and churches alike, and is worshipped by women all over the world. My curiosity piqued, I ordered the book from a Christian retailer and dug right in.
I may do an entire post on this book specifically at some point, but I was APPALLED by what I read in that book. A part of me is still in disbelief that a reputable Christian publisher could release this book under its faith-based label in good conscience. It is absolutely NOT a Christian book. And hardly anyone seems to be cluing into this.
Instantly I began to question if there were other books I’d read without exercising an appropriate level of discernment. If this book was being marketed as a Christian book, had there been others I’d fallen for like a fool? I felt like an idiot, and I was ashamed I’d ever bought this book in the first place.
Several months later, a similar scenario arose. I was reading a “Christian” Enneagram book that I’d gotten for free on Amazon. At first, I tried to convince myself that the “Christian” label canceled out any of the bad stuff I’d heard associated with the Enneagram, but the lingering doubts in the back of my mind wouldn’t let up. Something felt wrong about it, so I did some research on the Enneagram, the book, and the author. (Read more of my thoughts on the Enneagram here.) Once again, I was disappointed in myself and in the publisher who marketed this book as Christian. I had foolishly opened myself up to a very New Age concept disguised as Christian literature, and after reading more about these occultic themes and finding other examples of them in Christian books, I was almost ready to burn my whole library and start over again.
I did get rid of a few books I had once thought were perfectly fine (I now realize they were a little off; I’d just switched my discernment off, too! 🤦🏼♀️), but I didn’t end up having to start from scratch. I continued to research and felt some relief that not all of the books I’d chosen to read in the past were bad. Just a few were iffy, and I wasn’t taking any chances.
These experiences really opened my eyes to the fact that we as Christians can’t just trust anybody anymore – even Christian publishers and authors that once seemed reputable – because all kinds of unbiblical ideas are sneaking into Christian media and culture at an increasing rate. We have to be SO on guard. As much as I’d like to just relax and enjoy a good book, I’ve learned I have to be a lot more skeptical about what I read instead of just accepting it as truth because it came from someone who says they’re a Christian. I’ve had similar eye-opening experiences with songs, podcasts, and other supposedly “Christian” media. (And do I even need to mention the news media right now? Ha.)
If you’re a reader, or a Christian music listener, or a podcast listener, or a churchgoer…turn your discernment back on. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve muted it for too long in areas where you thought you didn’t need it. Learn from my mistakes: this world is changing, and even Christian sources can be feeding us unbiblical ideas. Stay on guard!
Have you noticed messages in any Christian books or media that seem to contradict the Bible? How do you exercise discernment in what you read, watch, and listen to?