“Christian” Books Every Christian would be better off NOT Reading, Part One

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9).

And now for something completely different…

One of my original purposes for creating this site was to introduce and recommend books that I believe every Christian should read. My lists of non-fiction, fiction, history and biographies are works in progress to which I add as I discover new books that I feel are worthy to be included. On the other hand, there are some books that are not worth anyone’s time and energy to read, regardless of personal taste and preference, and that includes, unfortunately, books that are written by and for Christians. In this three-part series I would likebooks- in-dumpster to focus on eight such books, and believe me, I know there are many more where these came from! (One writer states, “A dump truck would not be large enough to haul all of the heresy out of a typical Christian Booksellers Convention.” I’m afraid I might agree.)

For the most part, I strive to make my site and articles positive, so this article may be taken as being negative and critical. But sometimes critiques can be useful. My intent is not to judge the character, motives or the spiritual status of any of these writers, but merely to bring attention to the problems, concerns, and in some cases dangers found within these works. My hope is that Christians will read with their Bibles open, their minds engaged, and their hearts guarded whenever they read anything written by a fallible human being. I have no doubt that what I submit here may raise objections and push-back from some, but I hope it will challenge many to be wise and careful readers and to use the Word of God as their ultimate resource for life and doctrine.

To clarify, I am not saying that everything found in each of these books is bad/wrong/evil. In fact, isn’t it true that the most insidious thing about false teachings is that they always contain some good or truth in them? However, the Apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to be alert and to preach the word faithfully,

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (II Timothy 4:3-4).

If there’s ever been a time when people sought to have their ears tickled, it’s now. Some people defend books like those I am about to discuss by stating that as a result of reading them people have been saved, brought closer to the Lord, or challenged to take their relationship or walk with Him more seriously.  In her memoir book Girl Meets God, Lauren Winner describes how she was converted to Christianity as a result of reading Jan Karon‘s Mitford books. She comments, “I feel annoyed that in His wisdom, [God] chose to reel me in with middle-brow Christian fiction. It could be worse, I suppose. I could have come to faith while reading Left Behind. The truth is, Yes, God can use anything to change hearts and lives; as my pastor often reminds us, He even used the mouth of a donkey in one case that we know of (see the story of Balaam in Numbers 22:21-35). But that doesn’t justify the use of bad doctrine, self-serving motives, or worldly methods  to instruct or encourage people in their faith. Sorry, folks, the ends do NOT justify the means.

One disclaimer: I have not personally read most of these books. Some people may say: How can you judge or criticize a book if you haven’t read it? Well, I don’t believe the teachings of The Koran, The Book of Mormon, or The Communist Manifesto, but I admit I haven’t taken the time to read those. I can read about them and talk to others who have read them and learn enough from credible sources to know that I don’t agree with what they teach and don’t want to waste my time reading them.

To be honest, my virtual pile of “tbr” (to-be-read) books is constantly growing, so whenever I read several well-written reviews by reliable sources of a popular book that helps me to remove it from that list, I am relieved and happy to do so. I actually have labelled one of my Goodreads bookshelves “Books I have no intention of reading.” Because life is too short…

So rather than taking the time to read and write a review of each these books, I will give a very brief statement about each one, include a few selected passages and/or a bit of commentary on some of them, and then provide links to complete reviews for you to investigate. Finally, in the spirit of Eat This, Not That!, I will offer some alternative reading options for your consideration.

So without further ado, I present the following books, listed from earliest to most recently published, that I would suggest every Christian is better off skipping:

left-behind-book#1 – Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins (1995)

Two reasons not to read this book series: Bad literature. Bad theology. Of course everyone is familiar with this series, set after the (supposed) Rapture has taken place. After the Rapture of Christians happens, a group of individuals who is left behind unites their efforts to fight the evil and powerful Anti-Christ character. The problem with this book is that the authors have made a mockery of the truth by taking a serious Biblical topic and combining it with their own interpretation and ideas of it (although the publisher guarantees that the story is theologically sound) and turning into a poorly written thriller.

Jerry Falwell is quoted as saying, “In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible.” If this is true, it’s concerning. Some people have taken these books way too seriously and literally, and come away thinking, “Oh, this is what it’s going to be like.” Um, no, this is called FICTION, and comes purely out of the mind and imagination of the writers. One reviewer commented that he had known people who actually prayed for the characters in the book!

If you don’t hold to the pre-tribulation view of the end times (which I don’t), you will probably find this book intolerable and ridiculous. It seems to me that LB does more to expose the holes and problems of the pre-trib view than help it. Where in Scripture does it teach that after Christ’s return unbelievers will have a second chance and more people will be saved? The Bible indicates that when Christ returns, the faithful ones will be raised, followed by the judgment of the wicked – there is no second chance for them at that point. But eschatological views aside, even if you are a pre-trib rapture-believing Dispensationalist there are other problems to be found in this series, which is supposed to present Christian ideas. It doesn’t appear that the gospel message of salvation – how one becomes a Christian and the role of faith, repentance, and obedience to Christ – comes through in these books either. From what I’ve read, the emphasis is more on doing what one must to survive and save oneself, and on punishing the Enemy.

More full reviews of this book:

A lot of secular post-Apocalyptic literature has been written, including The Road
by Cormac McCarthy, The Stand by Stephen King, and recently The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins — books that at the very least are better works of literature and have more developed characters. Folks, if you really feel the need to read Christian fiction, there’s better stuff out there.

What to read instead:

Prayerofjabez#2 – The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life by Bruce Wilkinson (2001)

In I Chronicles 4:10 we read, “Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested.” This is the verse that Wilkinson builds on in this short work. Wilkinson introduces his book as follows:

I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers. It is brief—only one sentence with four parts—and tucked away in the Bible, but I believe it contains the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God. This petition has radically changed what I expect from God and what I experience every day by His power. In fact, thousands of believers who are applying its truths are seeing miracles happen on a regular basis.

So the book is basically about how to use your prayers to manipulate God into giving you what you want, and not to take No as an answer. According to Wilkinson, God wants to bless everyone, we just have to invite Him and give Him permission to do so.

Wilkinson says, “I don’t want to go to heaven and hear God say: “Let’s look at your life, Bruce. Let me show you what I wanted for you and tried repeatedly to accomplish through you. but you wouldn’t let me.”

So apparently if I don’t pray for what I want God to do in my life, if I’m not persistent, then God is limited in what He can or will do. Wow, pretty pathetic picture of a Sovereign God, don’t you think?

We do know that, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).” But the focus of our prayer shouldn’t be on the prayer itself, but on the One to whom we are praying. We don’t use prayer to channel God’s power or to win God’s favor. Prayer is how we express our dependence on Him and our trust in His sovereign will in our life. And it’s an expression of our relationship to God, not a formula to be followed.

More full reviews of this book:

What to read instead:

JesusCalling#3 – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (2004)

In the Introduction to her book, Sarah Young says, “I knew that God communicated with me in the Bible, but I yearned for more.” She explained the concept of her book to CBN this way:

My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930’s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they “listened.” About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but this was one-way communication: “monologue.” I knew that God communicates through the Bible (and I treasure His Word), but I wondered what He might say to me personally on a given day. So I decided to “listen” to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying. Of course, I wasn’t listening for an audible voice; I was seeking the “still, small voice” of God in my mind/heart.

She recorded the thoughts that came to her and published them in a book, claiming they are direct, divine revelations from God, not only for her, but for the reader. She explains, “I have written from Jesus’ point of view; that is, the first person singular (‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘Mine’) always refers to Christ. ‘You’ refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you.” Besides supposedly speaking for Jesus, Young’s book smacks of mysticism and New Age concepts such as channeling, visualization, and automatic writing. Proceed, if you must, with caution.

More full reviews of this book:

What to read instead:

Next time we will consider three more books that I believe every Christian would be better off not reading.

If you’ve read any of these books, what was your take on them? Did you find them to be biblical and profitable?

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10 thoughts on ““Christian” Books Every Christian would be better off NOT Reading, Part One

  1. I actually tried to read Left Behind once. I got about three paragraphs in and was so sickened by the bad writing I put it down. Life is too short. I haven’t read the others and feel no need to. 🙂 Good list.

  2. Life is short. Thanks for all this information, it’s good to know which way to turn. I’ve thought of writing a book. But, really, does the world need another book? Like you mentioned your tbr stack, I have one too, so many books and so little time. Thanks again, I appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Oh, you’re welcome, and thanks for taking the time to visit my site! When I’ve finished reading Owen’s Mortification of Sin I plan to publish my review of it and include the link to your poem – I thought it was just terrific!

  3. I always wanted to write a blog on bloggers that I should not read…but there are way too many to list! If your reasoning behind this is to let believers know what is going on, it seems you only want people to read what you believe. None of us have a monopoly on Theology. I have read all three of these books and still love the Lord, my family and have a passion to see people saved. So, I wonder why we use our time to criticize those trying to do something or books that have sold MILLIONS. Hmmm…wonder how many books you and I have sold?

    1. Scott, Thanks for your comments. First of all, I’m sorry if you took my reviews as a personal attack of your faith and love for God and your family. I mentioned right at the beginning of this piece that I am not judging the hearts, motives, or salvation of the writers, or the readers, of these books. I don’t believe I have a “monopoly on Theology” but I do believe every Christian has the right and duty to be Bereans and to judge what they read and hear against Scripture. If you are one who does this, then good for you, but not everyone does.

      As this is my blog, I feel I have the right to commend or criticize whatever I feel compelled to. For the most part I try to point my readers to (what I consider) good quality material, but in this series I went the other direction. Yes, I do want people to read what I’ve enjoyed, agree with and have benefited from, don’t you? In this case, I’m discouraging people from reading these particular books, and clearly from the links I’ve listed I am in good company. Is a person only permitted to review books that he or she liked? Can I assume you have also visited the sites of Tim Challies, the Gospel Coalition, 9Marks, Sola Sisters, and CIC Ministry to criticize them for their negative reviews of the books I’m addressing?

      Lastly, your final statement is really illogical and irrelevant: just because a person has written and sold a book, or many books, doesn’t mean they are always correct or are the ultimate authority on the subject. The Book of Mormon and the Koran have also sold millions of copies, but they contain false teachings and are deceiving many people to hell. I would rather NEVER publish or sell a book, than sell millions that have that result, thank-you. Feel free to read whatever you wish, and if you find some good in it then consider it a bonus. As I’ve heard it said: “Eat the chicken, but spit out the bones!”

  4. Thank you for include this list of best-selling Christian novels in your post. I’m more of a Christian bookworm who requires new books nearly every week. Have you read the novels of Keion Henderson (https://www.keionhenderson.com/books/)? I’m now reading his stuff, and I think it’s fantastic!

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