For a people who seem to be pathologically obsessed with rejecting “works,” evangelicals sure do talk about ” X Steps to (insert spiritual success here)” a whole lot. I was reading the Christian Book Distributors catalog today that I got in the mail the other day, and here’s some books I saw listed for your average Christian reader:
8 Steps to Create the Life you Want by Creflo Dollar
10 Curses that Block the Blessing by Larry Huch
Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now by Joyce Meyer
Here’s an ironic one: 100 Ways to Simplify your Life by Joyce Meyer (not sure Joyce thought that one through…so I have to remember 100 things that will simplify my life, huh? Does that simplify my life, or make it more hopelessly complex?)
10 Choices: A Proven Plan to Change Your Life Forever by Dr. James MacDonald
10 Principles for Studying your Bible by Charles Stanley
Here’s a funny/ridiculous one: Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
And there’s one huge omission from CBD that has been an evangelical hotcake:
Seven Steps to Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen
And then there’s the “secret” section:
The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer
The Secret to True Happiness by Joyce Meyer
Secrets of the Vine by Bruce Wilkinson
So, if I read these books alone, I’ll have 3 BIG Secrets and 157 Steps to follow to my best spiritual life now. I’m sure I’d be absolutely thriving and sprouting angel’s wings and floating away from this God-forsaken world with these secrets and steps.
Here, I have a better idea for the average Christian. Listen to this sermon by Scot McKnight on the Whole Gospel, then wade deeply into the Bible’s story, find yourself in it rather than dragging God into yours, fully submit your life to Jesus, read through the gospels primarily, follow the footnotes of where Jesus quoted from, and walk with fellow disciples of Jesus. I’m not going to attempt to oversimplify the Christian walk, and I’m sure some of the above-mentioned books are important (after all, the most important book of the last 25 years, I think, is McLaren’s Secret Message of Jesus, so take what I say with a grain of salt), but please, just please, quit with this self-help blahdom that bores and confuses and creates desperate people who “need to know that they know that they’re saved” and keep finding themselves falling short.
“I DON’T have a new kid by this Friday, I forgot whether you that last book was curses to avoid or steps to follow, and I have NO consistent understanding of what it means to be a Christian.”
Sheez. I can see why people quit reading “Christian” books, and how those “Christian books” ruin people’s desire to read the Bible.