Have you been to a Christian bookstore lately? If not, it may not be there anymore. Many of us remember that oasis in the middle of the commercial desert; a quiet place filled with volumes of spiritual wisdom and the air of reverence. The bibles there had a new smell and crispness. Hymns played softly in the background.
Unfortunately, hundreds of these sanctuaries have closed the doors in the last decade. The reasons are many. Some emphasized ministry without careful attention to good business practices and lost because of mismanagement.
Others were squeezed mercilessly by the arrival of the "big box stores" that were able to buy the more popular titles direct from the publishers and sell them cheaper than the small stores could buy them. Still others were bought up by chains losing the personal touch that the "mom and pop" neighborhood store provided.
But many of the stores that have survived have lost the dedication to truth that customers depended on. A recent article in the Roman Catholic weekly Our Sunday Visitor illustrates this disturbing development. "Christian retailers across the United States are making more room on their shelves for Catholic titles," it says.
In the past, Bible believers could rely on the advice of the Bible bookstore clerk as to the soundness of a given book. The owners made their own choices of which volumes to stock, carefully avoiding unbiblical teachings. Now, clerks at a chain store are told by central purchasing which books they will sell. This puts the decisions in the hands of one or two persons who may be unconcerned about biblical truth.
One example in the OSV article is a "Christian" bookstore in Indiana operated by an owner who is Roman Catholic. His store is affiliated with the Parable Group, "a chain of 57 Christian bookstores in 25 states." One of the goals of the Parable Group is to "provide training when needed to store owners who want to expand their Catholic base."
Who is going to warn the young Christian that the store contains material promoting the Roman Catholic cult? Will the store also carry books promoting Mormonism, or Masonry?
The old "Gospel Bookstore" was more than a commercial outlet. It was a major line of defense against heresy. Pastors and teachers could confidently direct young believers to go there knowing that they would get sound, biblical literature.
The OSV article carries a tragic quote from Alan Napleton, President of the Catholic Marketing Network: "I`ve been in Catholic marketing in the Bible belt for 20 years. I come across very few evangelicals today who don`t recognize Catholics as fellow Christians."
The pope`s propaganda machine has been hugely successful convincing even many Bible believers that Roman Catholicism is "just another denomination with a different worship tradition." Before the Bible bookstores became "Christian" bookstores, they carried literature that clearly showed that your Catholic neighbor was a lost soul who trusted in Mary and their priestcraft system for a hoped-for salvation.
Now, thanks to Rome`s sweet song of unity, and a host of polluted Bible versions, "evangelicals" have been blinded to the fact that Jesus identified the Vatican system as a prostitute "church" and commanded us in Revelation — to come out and have no fellowship with it.
So, when you visit your local "Christian" bookstore, (if you still have one) it`s "let the buyer beware." How fortunate you will be if it is a true "Gospel" bookstore, a ministry standing firm on biblical (KJV) truth.
If not, then enter with caution. You will need to "Prove all things" and only "Hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21)