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November 22, 2013Culture

Another Day, Another Faux Christian Outrage: Costco's Fiction Bible

Caleb Kaltenbach, the pastor that took the viral photo of the fiction-labeled Bible at Costco, tells his story.
Another Day, Another Faux Christian Outrage: Costco's Fiction Bible

My wife and I had attended our small group on Tuesday night of last week. We finished up a marriage series, and I learned that I wasn't communicating in her love language—most guys can relate! She snapped a photo of a jacket she liked at Costco, and so last Friday I went there looking for it. On my way out of the store, I was browsing through some of their books. I noticed the Bible was being sold and had a label on it that said "Fiction." As I checked, I noticed that all Bibles were labeled in that fashion. I went to find someone in the store and inquire as to why it was labeled fiction. Unfortunately, I couldn't.

Here's where it began: I took a picture and posted it on my Twitter and Facebook. I snapped the photo because I thought it was interesting and somewhat amusing (I had never seen a Bible labeled fiction, but religion, inspiration, gift, etc).

Let me be clear on this: I was NOT angry, outraged, offended, stunned, shocked, upset, gained a shattered worldview, or ________________ (you fill in the blank). I put the pic on my social media feed to EVERYONE, not just my "flock." It was then a couple of days later that I was approached by the press about the photo.

I tried to answer media/journalist questions as best I could, and there were some quotes that were taken out of context. I did some of the TV interviews for a couple of reasons: first, to show that I was not outraged or upset with Costco. Second, I will take any chance I get to testify about Jesus or create conversation on the Bible. In every interview I tried to point the people back to Jesus. I specifically said each time, "I do not think that Costco did this intentionally. I don't believe there's an evil mastermind genius working at Costco to undermine the authority of Scripture." Unfortunately, people hijack and spin stories so they can get their own view on the matter across.

Image: Original Photo Provided by Caleb Kaltenbach

The response has been HUGE. I really don't think that this is about Costco as much as it is about God. Whenever you put the Bible in the spotlight, it will highlight people's love for His Word or their lack of faith in it. When people come face to face with the Bible, they are forced with decision...either it is true or it's not. We've certainly seen that over the past few days:

  • The cultural fundamentalist Christians came out of the woodwork asking for boycotts!
  • The political conservatives emerged pointing out the "liberal" policies of Costco.
  • The compassionate Christians appeared and started asking questions like "how would Jesus have treated Costco?"
  • The indifferent population came to surface and wanted to know what the big deal was?
  • The hardcore atheists jumped all over Twitter using the event to poke fun at the Bible.

To me, most of the groups missed the main point of the issue: is the Bible fiction or is it true? There are some Christians who have to be mad at the next cultural event in our country. That's not me. I'm definitely conservative in my view of theology, but wouldn't consider myself a cultural conservative. As a matter of fact, our church, Discovery Church, prides itself on being a church for people who don't like church. We are very intentional in what we do in our worship services, community groups, family area experiences, and more to think of what "the unchurched" are thinking.

Because of our focus on being a church for people who don't like church—I think that the indifferent population that wanted to know what the big deal was came the closest to the kind of conversations that should have been spurred on by this situation. My sincerest hope is that many conversations will be had about the Bible and that people will start to consider the evidences for the reliability of Scripture. Maybe people will ask tough questions of Jesus and who He was. That would be a great win!

It was never my intention to crusade against Costco or their CEO (who is a devout Catholic). I'm not on the cultural warfare path by any means. I believe that if this story gets summed up by label stickers then the opportunity was missed and a shadow has been cast over the Gospel. If however, we can have good conversation and get some people thinking about God, then there just might be a party in heaven soon (Lk. 15:7).

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