Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Christian as Consumers

posted by Scot McKnight

I don’t have a problem with Christian bookstores, where everything (or nearly everything) is purchased, marketed and sold to and for Christians. Pete, the man who fixes our cars when they need help, is overtly Christian and I trust him and he does a good job and he’s honest as all get out. 

But for some reason, some kinds of products marketed for Christians get under my skin. Like this:
 

Testamints.jpg

What are your thoughts about ordinary products marketed to and for Christians?


(HT: DD)


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dopderbeck

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm


Scot, I’m shocked that you would raise a question about such a profoundly Biblical product, which clearly is authorized by Job 19:17: (“My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers.”).



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Richard

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:43 pm


As much as items like that make me shake my head, the good that God has wrought from it has been to inspire Tom Waits to pen “Chocolate Jesus”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVyk5dAU_wU
This isn’t my favorite version of the song but it makes it clear that these were the inspiration behind it. It’s a beautiful critique of a feel good gospel.
here’s a better recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAIqk5KUBRQ&feature=related



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joanne

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm


I think it reduces us.



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Larry

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm


Jesus Junk. But the mints aren’t as bad as the so-called “art” on the walls of most Christian bookstores.



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Warwick

posted March 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm


I knew my cynicism towards Christian kitsch was complete the day I walked into the largest chain of Christian bookstores in Australia, and saw a “classic” Australian print for sale on the wall. The same as my brother had on his wall at home, with two main differences.
It had a bible verse printed on a gold label, that the company who produced it couldn’t even go to the effort of mounting straight. It was roughly twice the price my brother paid for the same print, without the largely irrelevant bible verse.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted March 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm


#1 dopderbeck
LOL. I love it.



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MatthewS

posted March 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm


I don’t have a well-reasoned position. I always react negatively. As I have thought about it, I have thought that at least it beats living in a country where you can’t freely express the Christian religion. Some of my friends who don’t analyze such things very deeply – perhaps “to the pure all things are pure” and they enjoy in good conscience. It always puts me in a bad mood. But I have to ask: what is my bad mood really changing about this? (nothing) If I were all-wise and all-knowing I would know how to feel. I’m not but I care enough to want to get it right. Which fuels no end of angst about such things.
I have the feeling something is wrong with it, but I don’t know exactly what. Which means I’m either ignorant or judgmental, and I dislike both. argh!



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Geoff

posted March 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm


All I can say is it makes me hope the guys I work with don’t see those things!



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Matt

posted March 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm


It reminds me of the passage in Acts where Simon the Sorcerer wanted to use the power of the Holy Spirit for a financial gain. People should be ashamed of marketing the Christian faith to make a buck. I rather use Certs at least they are not marketing off the name of Jesus. It is usury.



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Nancy

posted March 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm


What bothers me about this sort of stuff is the way in which it trivializes the gospel. It turns Jesus into a comodity to be sold for profit. It reduces faith to … oh don’t get me started.



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E.G.

posted March 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Someone mentioned that they see this as using the Gospel to make a profit. Perhaps, but what of any number of Christian artists or musicians? They, too, hope to make at least enough of a profit to feed their family?
It is, indeed, kitchy. And much “Christian” art these days unfortunately is kitchy. But, one person’s kitch is another’s masterpiece. I’d rather have red hot skewers thrust through me than be forced to put up a Thomas Kincaid painting in my house. But obviously there’s a market, or the guy wouldn’t be so successful.
So, I can’t judge this product (or those like it) based on the fact that someone makes money from it without also judging any other form of Christian art.
I can’t judge it (other than the fact that I wouldn’t buy it) on its quality, since my idea of art or of a good product differs from yours.
I also can’t judge it based on the motives of the producer and the seller. Those motives are between them and God, and I would hope that they are pure.
And, I can’t judge those who buy it, as I really do suspect that they are doing so because they feel that it is right.
It is a pity, though, that there is so much Christian kitch. I would, however, submit that the kitch-to-non-kitch ratio in general day-to-day life is pretty high as well. So, it’s not just Christians who are guilty.
It’s just that kitch seems to be attracted to Christian “book” stores… they have kitch magnetism.



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Nick

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm


It reflects a ghetto mentality, we are supposed to be in the World as salt, as a bit of ground that reflects the true king, not setting up a little cheesey sub culture!



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Happy

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:07 pm


you know I don’t care, i think it’s pretty funny we have some soap in the bathroom that is SinAway liquid soap. Pretty sure it’s a joke but love the fact our church has a sense of humor.
I’m not one to go to christian books store usually what i want I need to get it online.



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Emily S.

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm


To me, these are reminiscent of my over-zealous days of childhood when being a Christian meant doing everything I could to differentiate myself from the larger culture and to ostentatiously show that I believed in Jesus.
In general, I agree with Nancy. I think that marketing things in God’s name is disturbing. This may be a false parallel, but what comes to mind is the meat that was offered to idols and false gods and how they were sold at the markets. The idea of the followers of God selling meat sacrificed to God at a market to compete with the ungodly is appalling. Of course this wouldn’t happen in those days because meat sacrifices filled other purposes.
That’s what comes to mind. Rather than make a profit and thus connecting the name of God to a petty industry, make a product that’s profits benefit those in need and let God get the glory through action, not just by having a cross printed on a piece of gum that will probably end up on some sidewalk anyways.



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Jeff Stewart

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm


Sorry folks, but I feel the same way about C28. There’s got to be a better way of being salt, light and yeast.



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Aaron

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm


In the words of Rob Bell “they are a stench upon my nostrils.” I actually saw christian poker chips with phrases like “God knows how to HOLE EM” etc. in a christian bookstore.



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reJoyce

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm


I was in Baker Books in Grand Rapids, MI one time and saw a tote bag with Philippians 4:13 on it (I can do all things through Christ). Philippians was spelled “Phillipians”. The kids and I used to joke that they could do all things (except spell).
But I thought it was rather telling. First that whoever was producing the bags didn’t know enough to even spell the reference correctly. Secondly that the book store just put it out there without noticing.



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Rusty

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm


I don’t mind tshirts but other things like candy, mints, etc makes me want to grab a whip and clear the temple. Like #3 I think it makes us look bad and somewhat crazy. I think some people think that if they put a verse or Jesus on it then someone will buy it.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:47 pm


In general, I agree with EG (#11) although I stop short of wanting to poke my eyes out rather than hang a Kinkade work on my wall (my parents grew up in his hometown of Placerville, and there’s a certain loyalty I feel I must preserve on that count).
I may not be especially comfortable with much of Christian marketing, and do feel that “kitsch” describes a lot of it rather well. But although I feel no guilt whatsoever about not buying it, I simply cannot agree with the voices that are condemning it entirely. While I would hope that motives behind such products would remain above pure profit, I simply cannot argue that they should not be allowed to exist without also arguing against things that I think are quite worthy. We don’t say that copies of the Bible itself shouldn’t be sold, do we? Just because some business may do this to make a living (and, thus, on some important level, “earn a profit”) cannot mean that marketing Bibles is wrong?
Now, how Bibles are marketed may be a valid point (I have an objection to the frilly-pink “women’s” bibles that espouse attitudes about gender that actually aren’t all that biblical, to say nothing of implying that the Bible itself has different content depending on who it’s being sold to.), but I think that’s a rather different level of discussion.



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JoanieD

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm


reJoyce said in #17, “The kids and I used to joke that they could do all things (except spell).”
Funny!



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Bob Cornwall

posted March 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm


Having worked in a Christian bookstore while in seminary, I think it’s appropriate to point out that most Christian “bookstores” today don’t merit the names. At most they can be called Christian “gift stores.” Of course, we had another name for this stuff — “Jesus junk.”
The store I worked for, did sell the Jesus Junk, but we mostly sold books (and music — back when music came on vinyl) and church supplies!
Oh, and in most Christian “bookstores” today, Zondervan would be considered left wing!



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Allan R. Bevere

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm


I have to confess that this is an issue over which I just cannot get excited one way or another.



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John Harris

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm


Well, if they are new they are good, but the old testamints are bitter ;-)



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Mark Pike

posted March 2, 2010 at 9:21 pm


I buy my books through several book clubs and amazon.com – anywhere but the local Christian book store. If they sell Testamints, they probably don’t have good judgment on books. We need to get out of the Christian sub-culture ghetto.



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K. Rex Butts

posted March 2, 2010 at 11:41 pm


I believe products like this (as well the Bible’s have become a capitolistic enterprise) is an example of why Jesus overturned the tables in the temple.
How many ways can we ravage what is holy to make another dollar?
Grace and peace,
Rex



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Lived in Wien!

posted March 3, 2010 at 1:40 am


Testamints have been around for over 25 years. Dumb!



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Burly

posted March 3, 2010 at 8:13 am


Tangentially related: Pete IS a great and fair mechanic. I always knew where to go when I lived near Libertyville.



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MatthewS

posted March 3, 2010 at 8:23 am


I have my frustrations with Christian book stores. For example, the price-per-square-foot calculus prefers 10 Joel Osteen books to 1 critical commentary. However, I am sad each time one goes out of business, and I’ve seen several. How is supporting amazon.com while the Christian book store goes out of business – how is that a win?



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Chuck

posted March 3, 2010 at 10:04 am


Testamints and the like truly make me sick. The silly commercialization of our faith is sad. IMO much of this phenomenon spun off from the contemporary christian music industry.



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Pat

posted March 3, 2010 at 10:11 am


Some of them, like the mints shown above, are laughable. But for some people, their consumption of various “Christian” items is authentic; it’s where they are in their faith. Even though I find some things ridiculous, I have to be careful not to judge the individuals without knowing their motives, heart and faith level. While I may not need certain things, doesn’t mean that others don’t legitimately need those things and over time, they may outgrow them. I know that there are things that I outgrew over time, but at that particular time, I was at a place in my faith where various things had deep meaning for me.



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Pat

posted March 3, 2010 at 10:15 am


I think the best thing we can do for people is to educate them so that those various products do not become a substitute for Christ and faith or are somehow taken as badges of honor. They should be seen as merely signs pointing to one’s affiliation. As the old saying goes, standing in a garage doesn’t make one a car, so neither should we think loading ourselves down with Christian products makes us Christian.



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Andy

posted March 3, 2010 at 10:25 am


I don’t have to time to read all of the comments, so someone may have said this already. But, I believe christian marketing in regards to clothing, jewelry, etc is not good.
Think about this…
We teach people to not be materialistic. But we are subtly teaching that its okay to be materialistic as long as what you buy is christian?
I don’t think slapping Jesus’ name on a trendy t-shirt or catchy bumper sticker follows his teachings in any way. Christian marketing is sadly, in my opinion, one of the biggest reasons for the our religions downfall in America.
Check out my apology regarding this issue (and several others).
http://thisisamess.blogspot.com/2010/02/open-letter-to-anyone-not-christian.html



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bob Smallman

posted March 3, 2010 at 11:14 am


And I thought I had invented the phrase, “Jesus Junk!” :)



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Bill

posted March 3, 2010 at 12:14 pm


Sadly this seems to be the way we are heading. There is a great little fiction book called Post-Rapture Radio that nails such practices. On the other hand, part of the takeaway may be to do some thinking about why this stuff really grinds us and think about other levels of NA Christianity.



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Daniel S.

posted March 3, 2010 at 11:53 pm


Very glad that we don’t have this rubbish in Australia.



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Brian in NZ

posted March 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm


One important point to remember is that all this “Jesus Junk” would not continue to be produced if there wasn’t a market for it. The fact that it does remain on the shelves means that people are buying it. Perhaps this says a lot about the depth of general Christianity is in the church



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arturo paulino

posted March 5, 2010 at 11:42 am


It baffles me that after centuries of great contibuttions christians have made to society, through art, music, inventions etc our creativity has been reduced to t-shirts, wristbands and breath mints



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