What’s the Word?

Our congregation is making a major push to inspire and equip our members to read the Bible with each other and with others who might be interested in reading Scripture. There are many reasons why we’re doing this, but I was recently reminded of an important reason that often goes unnoticed when I read a review of Rachel Hollis’ recent bestselling book Girl, Wash Your Face.

Now, you may be wondering why I was reading a review of a book of which I am not the target audience. It’s because, as a preacher, I am very concerned about what many in my church family are reading. I am especially leery of books like this one because they look Christian, sound Christian, and are marketed to Christians but they are actually antithetical to Scripture. As a result, they lead many well–meaning people away from the liberating truth of God’s Word and into the subtle shackles of secular humanism.

Hollis’ book is a perfect example of this, as Tim Challies points out in his review:

It has long been my observation that there are two kinds of books being marketed to Christians. There are some whose foundational message is what you need to do and others whose foundational message is what Christ has already done. The first make a model out of the author, the second make a model out of Jesus. The first place the burden for change on personal power while the second place the burden for change on Christ’s power. It is clear that Girl, Wash Your Face falls squarely in the first category.

Here is the book in short: The great truth every woman needs to know is that she, and she alone, is responsible for her happiness. Happiness (defined as contentment, optimism, gratitude, the appearance of perfection, and enjoyment of 90 percent of life), depends upon identifying and destroying whatever lies she believes about herself. To do this, she must take hold of the power she has within. When she fails, she should take comfort that at least she made the effort and determine she will try harder next time. The big takeaway is this: Try harder! And when that fails: Try even harder! And when that fails, try again!

This is not merely inconsistent with the message of the Bible, but antithetical to it. The Bible is clear that the greatest need of every woman is not happiness but holiness, not Rachel-likeness but Christ-likeness. The problem at the heart of every woman is that she has sinned and falls far short of the perfection God rightfully demands of her. What she needs most and first is not to make incremental changes to her lifestyle but to look to Christ who will bring lasting change to her heart. Hollis says, “Good news! Tomorrow is a new day.” The Bible says, “Good news! Christ can make you a new person.” Girl, Wash Your Face falls woefully short in both its diagnosis of the problem and its proposal for a cure. In its own way it actually leads women farther from holiness and, ironically, farther from happiness.

You can read the full review here, and I encourage you to do so.

In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul tells Christ-followers to grow in our knowledge of the Son of God and to mature to the point where our character reflects Christ so that “we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

The surest way to do this is to anchor ourselves in the Word of God.

Please understand that I am not charging Rachel Hollis, in this instance, of “deceitful scheming.” However, advice that is marketed as Christian yet leads people farther away from holiness is by nature deceitful. And, as a minister, I have seen the negative impact of this for years.

Instead of reaching for the Bible, many of us reach for the latest best-seller when looking for guidance.  But since our roots in the Bible don’t go very deep, we lack the spiritual discernment to recognize un-biblical advice.  So, we unknowingly anchor ourselves in secular humanism that champions “the self” and we think that the answers to life are within ourselves.  Then, we inevitably hit a wall and experience failure because the answers to life do not lie within ourselves.

The answers are in God and who He says we are.

And He has given us those answers.

He has told us who we are.

But not in a book that comes from a human – because what we humans are really looking for is comes from outside the human realm.

God has done it through His Word.

And this is why the Bible must be our primary reading material and why we must worship God not a celebrity author.

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