Good books…bad theology

This summer, I’ve come across a few books that have some great content, but then, when I went to find out a little more about the authors, I discovered that they had some bad theology!

In one case, it was a children’s series. This provoked some reflection in me about how I think I would respond if I had children. Setting aside for a moment that I don’t have children and I recognize that my perspective might alter if I did, I came to the (open ended) conclusion that I would still read this series with my kids. In fact, I think once they were old enough, it could generate some healthy discussion about the practical and subtle (yet sometimes significant) differences amongst Christian beliefs and how that might be fleshed out in storybook characters.

In the two other instances, the books are still truly helpful, but I now find myself questioning whether or not I would want to recommend them to others. Perhaps I could do so for those who I know have a strong foundation theologically and maybe not for those who wouldn’t?

Especially now that I have had some involvement with leadership at church, I want to be more sensitive about what I suggest to other women (since I work with women’s ministry).

To what extent does it matter if the book is good and could help that individual with practical questions and concerns of the faith, I have pondered?

Yet, I think it does matter enough to where I don’t think I’ll be recommending these ones without a wary clause about their belief systems. I don’t want to diminish the great work they have contributed, but neither would I want to suggest an unqualified stamp of approval for any and all works they may have produced.

The issue in question in each of these cases was that each woman believed in universalism. I hold strongly to the belief that this is a significant enough departure from what the whole Bible teaches that I would feel accountable to point out where their work may diverge from truth.

Years ago, I read If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, and that book troubled me deeply. Sure, I want every person to come to a saving knowledge and relationship with Jesus. I don’t want people to go to Hell and be eternally separated from God. But, when you read scripture as a whole and then contrast that with how loosely this book treats portions of scripture (especially what it does with punishment in the Old Testament and claims about Christ in the New Testament), then, no, I can’t buy that. It’s not there in scripture. So, while these books I read this summer aren’t presenting univeralism up front, I do think there should be great caution in recommending them to members of the congregation who might not know much about the wide spectrum of beliefs that can be labeled ‘Christian.’

What have you done in situations like this? What are your thoughts?


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