Reading with Discernment
Apparently Lifeway Christian Stores has created a cute little (trademarked) label for certain books sold at their website. The "Read With Discernment" label applies to authors who "may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology." Naturally, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell are on that list. Lifeway still chooses to sell these books "because we believe the books do present content that is relevant and of value to Christians and/or because pastors, seminary students, and other ministry leaders need access to this type of material, strictly for critical study or research to help them understand and develop responses to the diversity of religious thought in today's postmodern world."
While on one hand I find this amusing. Does Blue Like Jazz really need a warning label? You've got to be pretty sheltered if you find that book dangerous. But on the other hand I'm disturbed by the unspoken implication that the other books sold at their website don't need as much discernment while reading. Apparently, if something agrees with historical evangelical theology then it gets a pass on reading with a critical eye. We only need to be discerning about those that are discerning about historical evangelical theology since such opinions are only valuable to those those who engage them "strictly for critical study and research." So if an author encourages us to love others, portrays God in feminine form, or narrates a road trip with friends we need to be extra discerning. But if Beth Moore takes every other verse out of context then it's all good because we don't need to critically engage with someone safe.
I'd say either drop the label (or replace it with the "This Book is Dangerous" label they seem to be intending) or stick it on every book. I'd love to see extra discernment and critical thought applied to the typical devotional or Woman's Bible Study. Discernment shouldn't just apply to things we disagree with. We are instructed as Christians to be as wise as serpents at all times – not just when the authorities tell us to be.
(HT – Jeromy)