In the mail recently I received a fourteen page publication from an organization involved in evangelism around the world. The group is best known for its work on college campuses in this country. This publication described the efforts of a prominent minister who was spearheading a relief program in Russia. The relief was being delivered to millions of children of Russian military troops who had recently been discharged to bleak and uncertain futures.
What an admiral effort! However, as I read further and examined the program in detail (as a loyal reader of The Examiner should) something disturbing caught my eye. The publication indicated that a Russian general told the minister that their greatest need was spiritual and he would like copies of the minister's books given to the troops. The minister was more than willing to oblige the general. Given this, the request was made in the brochure to send money – not for food, not for clothes, not even for Bibles; no, instead the money was needed to buy and send copies of this minister's books to thousands of former Russian soldiers! (Admittedly, the gospel of John is part of the package of books to be sent.)
My first thought was that the man's books were being treated as essentials just as food, clothes, and the Bible. On closer inspection, however, I began to conclude that, at least as presented in the publication, the books were more important than the Bible. I reached that conclusion based upon a couple of objective measures. First, I counted the number of times the book titles were mentioned compared to the Bible. I found that the Bible was mentioned seven times whereas the minister's books were mentioned fifteen times. A second objective measure I used was noting what information was in bold print. Bolding is a way to make something stand out on the page, to emphasize its significance and attract the reader's attention. Sadly, when the minister's books were repeatedly mentioned, they were in bold print every time, yet the terms "Bible" and "New Testament" were never bolded. (Remember, these are objective measures of what is important in print and not just my opinion about what was important.)
Here's my point: I have no problem with helping the needy; it is the main purpose for our monetary giving as authorized in scripture. Further, sending food, clothes, and Bibles to Russia is an honorable and worthwhile activity. I also can't quibble about a man writing a book, expressing his opinions, and wanting others to read it. BUT, I am against any man holding up his writings, however subtly it is done, as anything remotely resembling the Bible in importance. It only makes it worse when this charade is performed on the naive and needy: "Here brother, you will find the answers to life's problems in my book."
For a man to ask for donations from others to purchase the books he has written is of questionable ethics; to then provide those books to the spiritually starving instead of the Bible is reprehensible. I call on concerned readers to withhold support from any ministry that engages in practices such as this and to make your outrage known to them.