Richard John Neuhaus is fond of repeating an observation about the United States: the country is so vast, so full of contradictions, that evidence can be found to support almost any generalization about it. Much the same could be said about evangelicalism.
Last week in Atlanta, the Christian (read "evangelical") publishing industry held its annual convention—"CBA," as it's known. Publishers, booksellers, and others connected to the trade came in droves to see the books and Bibles and music videos and knick-knacks that will be turning up in your local Christian bookstore in the coming months. And as usual, there was plenty of evidence at hand for your favorite generalization about evangelicalism.
Do you despair at evangelicals' embrace of the shallow, the trendy, the theologically dubious? Bingo! This was the year of Jabez. Bruce Wilkinson's bestseller, The Prayer of Jabez, was named the Book of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and everywhere you turned at the convention there were signs of Jabez mania. Shameless knockoffs, designed to resemble the Wilkinson original, could be seen on almost every aisle. And of course there were Jabez mugs, Jabez neckties, Jabez pens—you name it. There was even the Jabez fish: the familiar Christian symbol that has adorned so many evangelical bumpers, with the name "Jabez" spelled out in big letters inside the fish.
Do you brood over evangelical anti-intellectualism? If so, you could take grim satisfaction in the winner of the theology category in the ECPA awards. Yes, the Gold Medallion went to Hank Hanegraaf for his book, Resurrection.
But wait a minute. Are you encouraged by evangelicals' ...1