Save the withering brains! The top 50 Christian bestsellers according to http://www.cbaonline.org/ as of 9/6/06 have rather interesting statistics. While these categories are mine, they still communicate the point I am trying to make.
The categories of the top 20:
Christian Living: 4 books
Popular Fiction: 5 books
Inspirational Stories: 2 books
Study Tools: 2 books
Self-Help: 2 books
Motivational/Prosperity Gospel: 1 book
Relationship Help: 2 books
Theology: 1 book
The Bible paraphrased into 96 pages (yikes...): 1 book
Seems fairly evenly distributed, but here's where it gets sad....
Book Numbers 21-50:
1 Apologetics book
1 Christian classic
1 Study Tool
1 "Beginner's Bible"
Everything else in 21-50 (that's 26 books) falls into either the categories of Christian Living, Popular Fiction, Inspirational Stories, Self-Help, Motivational/Prosperity Gospel, or Relationship Help.
A shining gem of popular Christian literature can be found on the back cover of Joyce Meyer's book, "The Battlefield of the Mind". At first, I thought that perhaps Joyce was going to take a stab at discussing worldviews and/or apologetics. Then I read this:
"Overcoming negative thoughts that come against your mind bring freedom and peace".
This claim suggests (unintentionally, but nonetheless...) that positive self-talk is the key to being a "good little Christian" as if living in a sea of blissful ignorance is the ultimate goal! Not only is this inherently dangerous, it is outright unbiblical! Statements such as this are such a reflection of the anti-intellectualism movement within the church (generally) this day in age.
It is also worth mentioning that all three study tools are the "KJV Standard Lesson Commentary" which is commonly used in children's Sunday school classes.
Are there this many brand new Christians out there? I do not believe so. I believe at issue is the presence of unchallenged Christians who are under the delusion that reason is bad and faith is good. Faith and reason are mutually exclusive to the anti-intellectual movement. Believing this false dichotomy produces spiritually stunted Christians who are nearly incapable of maturing in not only faith, but discernment and understanding as well! An army of this kind can hardly be expected to hold its own in the world while the battle goes on unencumbered by thinking, mature Christians.
Why is it that Christians are largely more interested in reading inspirational non-fiction and feel-good fiction instead of, for example, a good, meaty book on defending the Christian faith against opposing worldviews? (Hint: it is along the same lines as why channel surfing is usually preferred over being productive)
I argue that this kind of reading is the reader's TV. It dumbs you down, is easy to get through, entertains you, and makes you feel good. The only lasting benefit is that it perhaps can improve your vocabulary.
However, a meaty non-fiction book on philosophy, theology, apologetics, or even an old fiction book clothed in rich philosophical allegory, such as an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn work will be quite the opposite.
It will challenge you, will sometimes be difficult to wade through, and is usually far from anything resembling a feel-good text. The lasting benefits include: increased brain function, improved speech and vocabulary, greater intellectual discernment, and more patience in study among various others.
Challenging reading sadly is not popular because it is not easy or fast.
This mentality has produced a crisis in Evangelical Christianity which must be remedied or counteracted.