Thursday, November 12, 2009

Selling Jesus

I've often been irate when I've found examples of what appears to be a use of Christianity to make money. If you're like me you may get these feelings when you step inside a Christian bookstore. While these bookstores are usually filled with some good commentaries, bibles, and teaching resources, they are often flooded with what has been branded as "Jesus Junk." Jesus Junk may include anything from tacky t-shirts to Christian candy. I've even heard it said that if you have a mediocre product with no way to sell it, just slap a Bible verse on it, and sell it it Christian book stores.

This spring in my Philosophy and Theology of Outdoor Ministry class at Wheaton, we discussed the dichotomy of the ministry/business model. In the example we probed the idea of how a Christian institution should exist. Can it make profit? Should it charge for services? The paradigm is a beast of its own, but I think for the most part Christian institutions are seeking to serve Christ and his Kingdom, in a society that is consumer and money driven. Jesus Junk on the other hand is a completely different category for me. These items are often defended as a way for believers to share their faith, or give them a subtle reminder of it. I think we need neither, and these items do not serve this purpose anyway. I've yet to meet anyone who realized their sin, repented, and became a believer because they saw an Icthus fish on someone's bumper.

Relevant Magazine recently posted an article concerning the issue, containing an interview with Mark Bontempo, the founder of Testamints, a company that produces mints with scripture verses on the package. Check out the article to get his take on the issue.

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