Not a book review. More of a book warning.
I do not recommend a book unless I have read it and held it in my hands, and here’s why: there’s bad theology out there, theology that does real damage to real people, and I won’t have it in my life, and I won’t recommend it for inclusion in your ministry. Sometimes a book seems like a really great addition to a loving, Christ-centered library, but until you’ll leaf through it, you don’t know what kind of hurtful messages might be hidden therein.
While browsing my favourite online bookstore, bookoutlet.ca, I came across God Always Keeps His Promises: Unshakable Hope for Kids, by Max Lucado. Now, maybe I was naïve, but I bought it. I have three children’s books by Max Lucado that I love and will probably recommend some future week, so why not? Here’s why not:
Folks, I love the Bible. I consider it a sacred source of wisdom on innumerable topics. But God did not write it. Divinely inspired? Perhaps. Divinely authored? Nope. The Bible is a collection of letters, stories, poems, and histories written across centuries by PEOPLE. People with their faults, biases, imperfections, and agendas, then collected into canon by more people with THEIR own faults, biases, imperfections, and agendas. Asking children to believe that everything in the Bible is the honest-to-goodness word straight from God’s mouth is irresponsible and harmful.
What happens when a child that made that promise actually *reads* the Bible, and not just Max Lucado’s interpretation? What happens when they notice all the inconsistencies? What happens when they notice that if they can’t be gay, they also can’t wear polyester-cotton shirts? What happens when they start to ask questions? Questions don’t kill faith; dogma kills faith.
I don’t know anything for sure, so I have decided to err on the side of love. When I read through the “One Another” passages in the New Testament, I see they are overwhelming focused on treating each other with love, patience, and forgiveness. So I will do my best to follow Isaiah’s instructions to do good, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow. If I mess up and rescue, defend, or plead for someone God really didn’t want to me help, I’ll let him sort out in heaven.