The ODMs seem to be the kings of illogical connections (I am sure there is some fancy term for that).  Recently Slice of Laodicea immediately connected a pastor to the emerging movement, simply because he was a little too involved with witchcraft.  Now, being one of the guys labeled “emerging”, I can tell you as an expert, I know NO “emerging” pastor that is involved with witchcraft.  The closest I get is watching the scene from Beauty and the Beast where the old hag casts a spell on the beast.

This latest connection leaves me a bit confuzzled as well.

This story from San Francisco Chronicle gives you a peek at the very heart of the faulty premise behind the Church Growth Movement which birthed man-centered postevangelicalism and the emerging church:

What is the story that will show us the faulty premise behind the Church Growth Movement?  I am glad you asked.  Designer bibles.  Yep.  Apparently the Christian Research is irrefutable..Those cute little bibles with two-tone leather are obviously conspiring with the big, bad church growth movement.  I am sure that Zondervan had a secret meeting with Robert Schuller, who had a diabolical meeting with his mentor Rick Warren, who consulted with Bill Hybels and his self-proclaimed disciple Rupert Murdoch — and they all came up with the same answer!  Finely Fashioned Bibles!  I am still not to sure how the cover of a bible sold down the street has anything to do with Church Growth, but I am sure these guys did do their Christian Research to find out.

Once again, we see that the exterior is much more important than the heart.

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62 Comments(+Add)

1   Matt B
January 24th, 2008 at 11:00 am

Nathan, you clearly wrote a hit piece by including a picture of the TNIV there. :)

2   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 11:05 am

Did you actually read the article at the SF Chronicle?

I would think it would make Christians sick to see the marketing of scripture. When did the fact that it is the revealed Word of God to mankind cease being enough?

I wrote more detail at my blog, but it is indicative to me of a church culture in America that has gone off the deep end.

3   Phil Miller
January 24th, 2008 at 11:19 am

For as long as the Bible’s been in the form of a printed book, it’s been marketed in some sense, hasn’t it? I don’t see printing Bibles with different covers an issue, really. I actually really like using some of the newer, smaller Bibles they make now. They fit better in my man-bag!

I do have a distaste for the Bibles made for specific groups of people. Usually the notes in those things are so superficial, that they’re just about useless. I see a lot of them in the bargain bins, though, so the free market is doing it’s job.

4   corey
January 24th, 2008 at 11:22 am

Jesus is the revealed Word of God to mankind.

5   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 11:29 am

I think you’re missing the entire point here – the marketing of the gospel/Bible as if it’s any other product. When a publication such as the SF Chronicle can see through this as distasteful, it’s amazing that you don’t. Here’s a snippet from the article in reference to how they can next package the Bible in an effort to up their bottom line:

“If you put chocolate coating on an Oreo, it’s a different cookie, and you ought to be able to charge more,” Caminiti argued. “The packaging has to scream that this is something really new: First time! Fudge-dipped! Chocolate-coated!”

Todd Niemeyer, vice president of sales, chuckled and murmured, “Smoke and mirrors.”

“We could put in an extra ribbon marker. … Maybe special parchment paper at the beginning?” Bishop suggested.

“There you go!” said Brian Scharp, vice president of Bible marketing. “The list of premium features is growing and growing.”

“Gold-plated bling?” Niemeyer asked mischievously.

“A vial of Holy Land soil attached to the back?” Bishop offered, as the room dissolved in laughter.

Again, I am surprised at your blindness on this issue. The gospel is simply being pimped for profit in this case (and in many others).

6   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 11:30 am

I said, “Again, I am surprised at your blindness on this issue.”

Maybe not… after reading this line, I think your true colors are shining through:

“Recently Slice of Laodicea immediately connected a pastor to the emerging movement, simply because he was a little too involved with witchcraft.”

A little too involved? Wow

7   Joe Martino
January 24th, 2008 at 11:31 am

But Paul, what does that have to do with CGM?

8   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 11:37 am

Joe, I think that this perhaps represents a sympton of the Church Growth Movement… sugar-coated, “Have it your way” discipleship.

Don’t just look at this article or example on its own but in the big picture. Here’s an interesting quote from it towards the end that speaks quite a bit about the state of things:

“But modern Christians have come to expect a very personalized faith. The culture has moved away from the biblical concept that believers must be “in the world, but not of it.” Instead of stepping into a distinct Christian culture, they stay where they are, and Christian culture comes to them. There are Bible studies just for Harley owners, evangelists who target only wrestling fans, ministries for skateboarders and rappers and porn stars.”

9   Chris
January 24th, 2008 at 11:40 am

When a publication such as the SF Chronicle can see through this as distasteful

Paul how did you draw the conclusion that the SFC found it distasteful?

10   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
January 24th, 2008 at 11:41 am

I figure if the ODMs are going after Bible publishers for trying to sell Bibles all their attempts to connect themselves to the Reformation must seem a little silly.

Luther had to kick off the Reformation and risk his life, the ODMs get to try to generate faux outrage about what a Bible is bound in.

11   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
January 24th, 2008 at 11:42 am

I also find it telling that Paul C is more concerned about Nathan’s characterization of the relationship that pastor has with witchcraft than he does about the truth of what ODMs publish. Then again, if you want to be in with the in crowd you can’t criticize an ODM. Its like their prime directive.

12   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 11:50 am

Who is the in crowd, Tim? Are you feeling outcast?

Y’all are missing the big point here- Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us. God’s written word remains- As Jesus promised it would. Why do we need to market it in such a way? Why do we need to market fellowship in such a way? Because Jesus is unattractive. He calls us to die to self daily. He calls us to become as slaves-bondservants to His will. He calls us to submit to one another out of love. It is all very unattractive- unless you are truly born-again.

Zondervans treatment of the Bible is acceptable to the cross-less Christianity of today. Martin Luther fought to get the Bible to common folk. Tyndale and others DIED. We in America are fighting for a Bible that we can accessorize with our fashion- and it speaks to a larger issue- we want a Jesus that we can accessorize to our lifestyle also.

13   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 11:51 am

So the answer is, yes, I can find the connections.

14   Joe Martino
January 24th, 2008 at 11:52 am

Who published the Bible you use?

15   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 11:55 am

I have one from Nelson, two from Tyndale, one from Zondervan, One from Navpress, 50 from Crossway (ESV’s I give away) two from Bridge-logos.

I honestly don’t look for the publisher! That was an interesting excersise! I have more but I am not looking. My most radical looking Bible is in snakeskin, from nelson, but I didn’t buy it for that. It is small and fits in my back pocket and it was inexpensive.

16   Phil Miller
January 24th, 2008 at 11:56 am

So are you advocating we go burn are wrongly-marketed Bibles? I don’t know, it seems rather odd to me. If it’s wrong to make money off of the Word, it seems to me that all full-time pastors should resign immediately.

I think to follow your premise, we have to assume that everyone who buys a Bible with a fancy cover on it is doing so because the Bible is unattractive to them otherwise. That’s a big jump to make. How do we know why people are buying them, really?

17   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Because Zondervan (and others, I am sure) feel the need to market them in this way.

It is all consumer driven!

No, that is a ridiculous leap like you accuse the ODM’s of making as far as burning Bibles. Unless, of course, you are talking about the Message, then I am okay with that 8^}

As a pastor, I enjoy a good study Bible. I prefer leather, but I own hard backed bibles as well for study. I suppose it is all marketing, and surely these companies have the right to market (after all, I am not a socialist/communist). I just find it disconcerting to peek in on these marketing methods. And yess, I can draw a connection. Pretty soon, we will have the sustainable earth Bible, with a hemp cover and recycled paper.

18   Chris L
January 24th, 2008 at 12:03 pm

One of my wife’s favorites is a smaller one that fits into smaller bags and has a hinged steel cover (which prevents it from getting banged-up).

Why do we need to market fellowship in such a way? Because Jesus is unattractive.

I disagree. The kingdom occurs in community, where things are as God would have them, not simply in individuals. Modernist and postmodernist culture both are highly individualistic, and using affinity groups is a way of bringing together a “community” for the purpose of both study and practice of Jesus.

19   Joe Martino
January 24th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

It is all consumer driven!

So are church signs, I’m all for getting rid of them!!! ALL OF THEM

20   Tim Reed, Owosso MI
January 24th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Why are you so concerned about making inferences about the motivations of people who sell or buy Bibles than you are in calling out the subtle slander of ODMs? I suppose crypto-plots are more interesting than the truth. Either that or you enjoy all the link love he’s been getting lately from them.

Come on Pastorboy, man up and write the truth, that Ingrid used this incident as an excuse to slam emerging Christians where there was no connection.

21   Chris
January 24th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Pretty soon, we will have the sustainable earth Bible, with a hemp cover and recycled paper.

And the problem with that is?

22   Chris
January 24th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Pretty soon, we will have the sustainable earth Bible, with a hemp cover and recycled paper.

If we get to burning bibles I want to burn the ones with the Hemp covers!

23   nathan
January 24th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

PastorBoy and Paul C,

did you think that these publishers were simply serving the lord when they produced genuine leather, gold trimmed, name engraved bibles that cost on average 60 dollars? Sure… they weren’t about profit then, but now it is different, right?

A. These new bibles are MUCH cheaper than traditional bibles. Most are 20 bucks or less


Zondervans treatment of the Bible is acceptable to the cross-less Christianity of today

so changing the cover and lowering the price suddenly equates it with being cross-less? Can we get any more superficial?

C. How on earth is this tied to the church growth movement? If we sell cooler bible in the stores, our churches will grow? Come on.

24   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Again… the point has completely flown over your heads (but it seems that’s how you like it… when it serves your purpose).

25   Joe Martino
January 24th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Well Paul, we think the point has completely flown over yours so there it is

26   Nathan    
January 24th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Paul, can you elaborate, or answer my points? I am serious. I would love to have a discussion.

27   Phil Miller
January 24th, 2008 at 1:08 pm

You said that these Bibles were a symptom of “sugar-coated, “Have it your way” discipleship.” I fail to see how that’s the case unless the actual text of Scripture is being edited. I don’t know of anyone that’s doing that, so what the practical difference in selling a Bible with a plain cover opposed to something else?

28   Matt B
January 24th, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Does the physical packaging of the Bible matter anymore? I read from the ESV every day on my iPhone. I don’t have to carry a Bible with me, I carry my iPhone, which is a lot lighter. I also have a live connection to countless translations, commentaries, devotionals, etc. The Bible, to me, no longer has a physical form. It’s electronic.

It appears that the ODMs are worshipping a physical item. God calls that idolatry.

29   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

did you think that these publishers were simply serving the lord when they produced genuine leather, gold trimmed, name engraved bibles that cost on average 60 dollars? Sure… they weren’t about profit then, but now it is different, right?

Dude, obviously you are not obeying the rules, here. You have to do a little research! They were on that article looking for ways of jacking up the prices of Bibles (over $100 for an updated study edition)

What is on the outside is unimportant- they need clearly to figure out a way to get people to crack it open once in a while….like being saved.

30   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 2:14 pm


I also have my Bible on my phone, PDA, computer, etc. The whole point is not the packaging! The whole point is why do we need it? ( the packaging)

31   Phil Miller
January 24th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I also have my Bible on my phone, PDA, computer, etc.

So you have you very own version of the Bible? This sounds a bit “man-centered” to me…


32   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Don’t have time for a debate on this. No one said the color of the cover matters. I couldn’t care less.

What’s a little surprising is that you can’t see what a mess all this has become right from the publishers’ own lips (didn’t you read the article and the piece I pasted above?).

33   chris
January 24th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

You guys are so heretical. I’ve stored Gods word in my heart.

I don’t even carry my bible anymore because I’m a Super Christian and God Loves me more! Or should I say I’m a Super Christian and Gods wrath is less on me!

34   merry    
January 24th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Christians have always built beautiful church buildings, “designer” buildings, if you will. Through the centuries we have had huge, cross-shaped cathedrals, and gorgeous, highly-ornate buildings. Churches many times are decorated with stained-glass windows and other decorations.

If we have beautiful churches, what is wrong with having beautiful Bibles? Styles of church buildings have changed with the culture through the ages, why can’t the Bible? The church building is just a facility for the body of Christ to use; likewise the cover of the Bible is just a structure to “house” the word of God.

35   Chris L
January 24th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

While I do think that “marketing” the Bible is silly, the story is dealing with a publishing house (which, though it prints books about Christianity, does not make it a “Christian” company) which published books across the spectrum of Christianity, so to single this out as somehow affiliated with the CGM is dishonest, at best.

For a mature Christian, does the cover matter all that much (though I like the steel one, which keeps the pages much safer, particularly if you’re out in the elements)? No.

For an unbeliever (or a new believer), aesthetics might mean more, but they would hopefully get beyond that soon. I know a number of Christians whose first step in the journey was someone they loved buying them a Bible, followed by their reading part of it. If a different cover might encourage that step, I don’t see a problem with that.

As for marketing, that’s another story – and it’s sad to see the pure profit motive behind it. I will say, though, that most of the “study bibles” (like the one I bought for my daughter, who does read some of the notes to help explain some of the things that are beyond an 11-year-old’s context) and ‘designer’ cover Bibles I have seen are less expensive than the leather-bound ones…

36   Paul C
January 24th, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Good points Chris L – I see where you’re coming from and think your points are very fair.

For me, the turn-off has nothing to do with the covers at all. I think it has more to do with the thinking behind it (from the publishing side) which is quite disgusting and kind of shows the silliness of Christians who are such an easy target.

“Put a fish on it” – it’ll sell. “Let’s all get little pendants of nails!” (remember the short-lived fad after Mel Gibson’s flick?) Christianity has largely become gimmicky and churches are not only catering to it, but are the victims of it.

I remember reading an article last year from a White House insider who worked to get all the evangelicals on Bush’s side for 04. He would host weekly meetings with these men and they were so enamoured by the concept of prestige that comes with being called on by the president that they went almost weak-kneed with flattery. Of course, Bush was just using them and had all sorts of derogatory nicknames he apparently referred to them by when they weren’t around.

Kind of the same thing here. When Jesus becomes a product (and all of the associated paraphenelia), it’s going to impact various aspects of how the message is delivered – or should we say, “Marketed.”

That’s my only issue – the bible covers are just an aside.

37   Phil Miller
January 24th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

OK, I guess I can see your perspective somewhat now. I am in agreement with you to a large extent. I think that most of the stuff sold at Christian bookstores is complete and utter crap. I don’t know why anyone would buy it. Apparently, there are a lot of people with more money than brains, or just awful taste.

I don’t see it a symptom of the Church Growth Movement, though. I think that this sort of stuff has roots that go further back in Evangelicalism. I remember seeing those “Our Daily Bread” things that had a plastic loaf of bread, and I think those were made even back in the 50’s and 60’s. It seems there has been a market Christian Kitsch for a long time.

38   iggy
January 24th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Paul C,

“Recently Slice of Laodicea immediately connected a pastor to the emerging movement, simply because he was a little too involved with witchcraft.”

A little too involved? Wow

Actually the Phil Wyman story not about him becoming involved with witchcraft as you are implying…

Here is an interview with John Smulo that is quite revealing in what was actually going on.

I am sure you also want Truth to prevail and not spread lies and rumors…


39   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I think my sustainable earth Bible in the TNIV and ESV and Message version would be a huge marketing success. We will have the hemp covers woven and pressed by workers in foreign countries getting a fair wage, hand printed on recycled paper, using non-poluting mercury-free ink. We will get the nationals to do it for double their normal daily wages, creating a micro-economic system to sustain their villiages.

Then we will sell it at $30 and make a 1000 percent profit after materials and wages!

Dude, I should patent this amazing idea…call it the ESEB-

40   Brendt
January 24th, 2008 at 6:16 pm


1) The demeaning of the Scriptures to just another product to be re-packaged and sold again is reprehensible. And certainly, to some degree, a consumer mentality is to blame.

2) There are elements in the way that some employ CGM that also play to consumer mentality.

But, to not only connect the two, but declare the former as the “very heart” of the latter is ridiculous. The connection is no tighter than the commonality one could draw between the fact that John Piper and Larry Flynt both wear suits.

41   pastorboy
January 24th, 2008 at 8:43 pm

But John Piper is not in a wheelchair!

42   robbymac
January 25th, 2008 at 12:56 am

I guess I’m more pragmatic when it comes to Bibles. I have a large hardcover that is duct-taped together because it’s so old and well-used, but it’s got such a great concordance that I don’t want to part ways with it.

I have a little metal-case NLT version, which isn’t my favourite version necessarily, but it’s small and fits into my backpack when I’m leading teams on the mission field. And the metal casing protects it as well.

I also have a faux-leather cover for my Spanish NIV, for the same reason: it protects the paperback Bible inside and it travels well in a backpack.

Beyond that, I don’t really consider the publisher, the marketing, or the opinions of fashionistas. Maybe I’m too old to be cool anymore anyway, unless it’s a retro “hip to be square” kind of thing. :)

43   Brendt
January 25th, 2008 at 8:34 am

That’s true, PB. So to extend the illogic (theirs, not yours), the wheelchair must be why Flynt is a pornographer. Guess that means we should write off Joni Eareckson Tada.

44   Ingrid
January 25th, 2008 at 11:09 am

The church itself calls it’s theology “emerging” on its website. If you people refuse to define your theology, how can you say he is not emergent? Everyone refuses definitions and parameters in the emerging church but then protest when they get linked with Wiccan-sympathizers. You can’t have it both ways. Either claim a doctrinal statement or accept the fact that you’re part of a movement where anything goes.

45   Matt B
January 25th, 2008 at 11:12 am

Ingrid, could you interview the guy on your radio show to find out what he is actually doing and believing?

46   iggy
January 25th, 2008 at 11:16 am


1. You have not looked into the charges against him… did you go to the interview link I gave?

He was not “practicing” as you stated… Have you ever listened to Jonathan Edwards? He was doing the same thing with the Native American Indians… yet he is held up as great!

I think that you need to get better informed before you cast your stones and worse sinners than you are yourself…


47   iggy
January 25th, 2008 at 11:21 am

He was not “practicing” as you stated

“you” should be “some”… as I do not know if Ingrid actually stated such though it seems she is promoting it…


48   Phil Miller
January 25th, 2008 at 11:23 am

In a lot of denominations, each individual church is basically viewed a sovereign body. I’m affiliated with the Assemblies of God, and basically each individual church has a lot of “wiggle room” as to how it’s set up. If a A/G pastor goes off in error, I don’t see how it should be thought of as a knock against the whole denomination.

Emergent or Emerging churches aren’t even a denomination at all, so the connection is weak to non-existent. Implying that Mosaic is somehow related to this pastor is like blaming someone who’s part of a local Chamber of Business and Industry if one of the other members was caught evading taxes.

49   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 11:35 am


“Everyone refuses definitions and parameters in the emerging church…” reductionist comments like this are so broad they are meaningless.

Here is an emerging church that holds definitive and orthodox definitions and parameters, thus proving your “Everyone…in the emerging church…” statement to be false.


50   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 11:39 am


I assume you going for sarcasm, but I find comments like “pressed by workers in foreign countries getting a fair wage…creating a micro-economic system to sustain their villiages” to be not only condescending and insensitive to the plight of the poor, but seem to mock attempts to overturn the exploitation of them.


51   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 11:42 am

I’d be perfectly content to let ODM’s address issues within emerging churches if they did so with more integrity – reducing them to a unified whole so as to address that over-simplified caricature is not only unjustifiable, it’s well a caricature at best…


52   M.G.    
January 25th, 2008 at 11:43 am


Can you provide a link to the page where The Gathering calls itself emerging?

I can’t seem to find the reference.

53   nathan
January 25th, 2008 at 11:50 am


Westrbrough Baptist, who created, calls itself a findamental conservative Christian church. Should we say agree that their behavior is accepted or the norm in finadmental conservative circles?

54   Joe Martino
January 25th, 2008 at 11:54 am

You guys crack me up. Do you really think she’ll come back and answer? Has she ever done that?

55   Phil Miller
January 25th, 2008 at 11:56 am

It’s the principle of it, Joe. :-)

Sometimes it’s fun to shout at the wind…

56   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

I truly wish we could engage Ingrid in a give and take dialog since we’re all on the same team. I honestly do not understand the approach that critiques and condemns while not being willing to engage…


57   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Re “The Gathering”

I poked around a bit and came away with these admittedly initial impressions:

1. I saw nothing I would say is not orthodox – there were a lot of things I would to have seen, but I’m not going to condemn on what they did not say.

2. In the paper on witchcraft he says:

…Relativity in truth is challenged by the concept of allegiance found in the scriptures…Relativity in morality is challenged by the 10 commandments…We are also forced away from a mechanistic view of God and creation in the scriptures…The rebellion of anarchy is clearly critiqued in scriptures as well…

All these statements further dispel Ingrid’s caricature of a movement where “anything goes.”

Again – reductionism proves to be meaningless.


58   Scotty
January 25th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

M.G. Said: “Ingrid,

Can you provide a link to the page where The Gathering calls itself emerging?

I can’t seem to find the reference.”

I think Ingrid pulled it from the interview that Iggy linked to.

Here’s the line from the interview:

“Because our church life has been experimental over the years, we find ourselves identifying with the emergent community these days.”

59   Matt B
January 25th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

For the last time, there is a difference between Emerging and Emergent. :)

Baptist doesn’t equal Anabaptist

Christian doesn’t equal Christian Science

Science doesn’t equal Scientology

Greek Orthodox doesn’t equal Russian Orthodox

60   Scotty
January 25th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

I never said there wasn’t Matt….Just pointing out where I think the reference came from!

61   Neil    
January 25th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Matt B.

re: “For the last time, there is a difference between Emerging and Emergent.

a) I don’t think this will be the last time we need to point this out, and
b) admitting differences defeats the easy attack-ism of being a reductionist.


62   Sandman    
January 25th, 2008 at 4:47 pm

If the waters can muddied by describing something as emerging in one, then emergent in another, link it to the worst offenders, then they’ve killed two birds with one stone.

Really think it’s time for a new name.