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Mar 07 2010

Book Burning

Book burning
Image by quinn.anya via Flickr

Over the years as I have grown in faith, my understanding of theology has grown and, in some respects, has  even changed as I delved deeper into His Word.  I think that happens to many of us if not most of us.  Last night I had a conversation with a friend over this very topic.  He used to follow, at least for a period of time, Pentecostal beliefs and teachings.  For that period of time, he was very immersed in those teachings and even had a home based gathering at his home.  During that time, he purchased many Pentecostal books to aid him and those that attended his home based gathering.  Fortunately, and as he says, God led him out of that false belief system.

He purchased hundreds of dollars, maybe more at his estimation, worth of Pentecostal books.  So what should he do with those books?  My thoughts are throw them away – in a sense, something akin a book burning without the fire.  Throw them in the trash.  Do not give them to anyone  (and yes, he knows I am blogging this topic :) ).  It seems a waste to throw away hundreds of dollars worth of books.  However, those books contain a lot of false information about Christ’s teachings and to give them away is to further perpetuate the heretical teachings that come out of that movement.  Many of those books contain “how to” information on such things as how to perform inner healings (among many other bizarre teachings).  To give those books away, even to those that follow Pentecostal teachings is, in my opinion wrong.

Here is why I think it is wrong and I will use my own personal example.  Before I was a Christian, I was a Muslim.  I had a number of Muslim items including written prayers and other items.  After I came to faith in Christ, I could have given them away to a Muslim.  I did not.  I threw them all away in the trash where they belonged.  I did not want to aid someone in their false belief by giving them items that helps and aids them in following their false beliefs.  If they really wanted something, they could go out and spend their money and purchase it.

To give away items that teach falsely about Christianity is to aid someone in perpetuating their heretical beliefs.   Tossing the books in the trash where they belong will not stop someone from wrongly understanding God’s word.  I question if we should be aiding in that false belief by providing free material to perpetuate or solidify those wrong beliefs.

What do you think?  A book burning of sorts to the material that we have that we don’t agree with theologically?  Or should we give them to someone who could use them?


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  1. Margaret


    Burn’em!!!…. The sooner the better….. We need to be free from all false teachings….. I have literally burned things a number of times, since I was young….. Even the “literature” that door-to-door cults hand out….. I take the literature just for the burning, so it costs them more money to go around….. I have discussions with them to show where they are wrong and when they show they are determined to keep their point of view, I give them a warning and kindly tell them it would be to their benefit to really delve into God’s word so that their eyes may be opened….. Their so-called “scripture” is what is misleading them.

    I’ve had people try and get me into New Age types of beliefs and have burned everything they wanted me to read….. Just throwing it in the trash made me feel someone might still get ahold of it….. Burning seemed to make the house seemed cleaner. :)

    The gift of salvation through faith in Christ alone is so precious….. I think that is why the early Christians felt urged to burn all their books.


    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      I chuckled that you do a literal book burning — though that would be a lot of fun and would prevent people from getting those books out of the trash. I don’t have a fireplace so if I tried that outside, I would likely get arrested.

      But I agree with you — and that’s the position I take. Get rid of those books. Like you, I take the books from those folks that go door to door. Sometimes I read parts of it to see what they have to say so I am informed of their beliefs but always, always, I trash the books. It’s one less book to give to someone that may not be discerning.

      I remember once a couple of years ago, this JW couple came to my door. Someone must have told the group that I speak Arabic. So they showed up, barely speaking English and proceed to ‘witness’ to me in Arabic. I guess they figured that if they sent someone that spoke Arabic, I would be more willing to listen. Then they gave me their written material written in Arabic. Funny thing is is I can’t read or write a word of Arabic. I can only speak it. I took the material and trashed it. Sadly, they were not interested in hearing the true Gospel.

  2. Repent Harlequin

    Greetings Blog Lady T. and Pyrotechnic Margaret,

    Our pastor just preached on the section of Acts relating how the people burned their magic books. This is quite timely.

    We regularly e-sell our books at Half Price but there are some books, not too many, that I have simply thrown into the trash. Not because I think no one is going to get that book if they really want it: They’re just not getting it from me.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Kent,

      First, I LAUGHED at your nicknames. Now Margaret has her own — I’m BLT and she’s “Pyrotechnic Margaret.”

      Like you said, people are going to get those books if they want it. We don’t have to be their supplier. That’s really the bottom line as to what I was getting at in my post.
      :) BLT :)

  3. Adam

    The nerve of this blog and the posts already left are staggering to me. For you to even think about burning a book or any kind of literature is disturbing on so many levels. Are your egos so inflated by your own self righteous importance that you cannot even see the hypocrisy of your actions? Are you so selfish and cocky in your COMPLETELY arbitrary choice in belief system that you not only denounce all other believers as wrong, which are BILLIONS and BILLIONS of real people just like you, but also damn them to eternal hellfire? Does it not bother you that the majority of people will suffer for ETERNITY in some mythical fire pit while you prance around on the clouds with some tri-god? Do you have even an ounce of compassion in your body? How can you be so cold? I know that is a lot of questions in a row but they are rhetorical. There is no need to answer, just think about it. And Tishrei, I should think higher of you. You actually have the confidence and higher thinking power to question your beliefs and adapt to false/hypocritical/silly or downright evil teachings that you don’t agree with. Your ability to change your mind is a sign that there is still hope for you. But at the same time you condemn the religions the second after you leave for the new belief-of-the-week! Why are they wrong as soon as YOU decide it? Why do you think you have the authority to choose the true word of god. I know this is some deep powerful stuff and I am trying not to offend but to get you to THINK. When you were a muslim, what would you have done if a pentacostal came up to you and said you were wrong? Would you not have denounced them as blasphemers and heretics? Then when you arbitrarily switch, you denounce your old religion as heresy! Do you not see your own hypocrisy? I am certain that when you switch to whatever new belief system you run into next that jives with you on that day you will denounce all christians as heretics and burn the bible. Maybe scientology or mormonism is next for you. This just got really long and I didn’t mean to rant so I will close with this. Book burning is BAD. Censorship of any kind is BAD. The people that believe in islam have just as much a right as the people who are jehovahs witnesses who have just as much a right as hebrews who have just as a much a right as christians who have just as much a right to their beliefs as scientologists. The only thing you all have in common is the conviction that you are right and everyone else is wrong. So who is really right?

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Adam,

      Wow, I really touched a nerve here and I didn’t mean to. Let me try this another way. First, I have a right to do with my property as I see fit. I’m not suggesting tossing, getting rid of or burning other people’s property. But to take it out of Christianity as I realize that touches a nerve with you, let’s say I have books on raising children and at some point I vehemently disagree with the methods taught in those books. Instead of passing on those books which I believe teach bad parenting, I choose to get rid of them. Is it not my property to do with what I wish? Why would I pass on a book on bad parenting to someone else so they can learn what I believe is harmful to a child. If they choose to purchase those books on their own, that’s their business. But I won’t pass on books that my conscious tells me is wrong.

      Apparently you take exception to Christians getting rid of or burning their own property because they don’t agree with other religions. You obviously take great exception to Christianity and our beliefs — that is evident by your comment. You used some really strong language to show your disapproval of Christian beliefs. You are entitled to believe as you wish.

      You made a point to say that I condemn those that I do not agree with. You read me wrong — very, very wrongly. If you were to read my other posts, you will see that I condemn no one and in fact, I have taken the time to defend the non-Christian. I have done it on my own blog and I have done so on other people’s Christian blogs. I don’t support Islam or any other religion but I have no power to condemn anyone — even if that is what I wanted. But I can assure you that even in my heart, I do not condemn a single person. But what you really take exception to is the teachings of the Word of God. There’s nothing I can do about that but I certainly won’t take exception to His Word because it angers those that do not accept it.

      In the end, this post was about getting rid of material that we feel is wrong. You too have that same right if you chose. If you have a book that you take great moral exception to, you have a right to dispose of your own property as you see fit or give it to someone else. You don’t have a right to take another person’s property and dispose of it much like Christians don’t have a right to take other people’s property and dispose of it. That’s all my post was about — nothing more and nothing less. This post did NOT advocate banning books everywhere or heading over to our libraries to start a book burning. It was ONLY about our own personal property. That was the extent of my post.

    2. Repent Harlequin

      Any book that was written in paragraphs i would trhow in the trash.

    3. Repent Harlequin

      I meant, of course, NOT written in paragraphs. But now it’s not funny. the timing’s off.


      I like your answer to Adam, but he won’t read it, as he obviously hasn’t read the other posts or article, at least without the blinding anger.

      Can’t do anything about that.

    4. Glen

      Greetings Adam…
      It would appear you have strong opinions about your faith. If you enjoy debating and like Confrontational Bible studies, stop by http://www.menaftergod.wordpress.com sometime. I’m sure you’ll find something to comment on.

      “Lov’n the Lord & Liv’n the Life…”

      Hi Tisheri. Please use caution when playing with fire.

      1. Tishrei

        Hi Glen,

        You said: Hi Tisheri. Please use caution when playing with fire.

        I’m not sure I understand what you mean.

        1. MenAfterGod.com


          Double pun; burning books and raging fire from hell.

          Don’t worry if you sometimes do not understand my humor. My wife says I am not a comedian, just a funny looking person.


  4. Margaret

    Tishrei and Repent Harlequin,

    Poof.!…. Another reason I get rid of them right away after a quick review is that I’m not young any more….. When I go to my heavenly home and someone is cleaning up my earthly belongings, I don’t want them thinking that that is something I treasured….. It is nice having a wood stove in our basement. :) …. By the way, I was chuckling when I wrote that.

    It is interesting how 2 John tells us to not even give them a greeting….. So, when they wish me a good day — after a long talk to nowhere — instead of wishing them a good day, I say something to the effect that I hope they will find the salvation God offers us in His word.


    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      Actually, that thought crossed my mind as well and I have gotten rid of some stuff that I don’t want people to find after I become worm food. Some things could be misunderstood and since I won’t be around to explain it, it’s best to not have around.

    2. Repent Harlequin

      I agree, Margaret. You don’t want the people coming behind you thinking “She was into that?” Better to be thought of as a pyromaniac :-)

      I like the wood burner. Actually, bound paper heats rather well. I read a story about 20 years ago about a guy who rolled all of his junk mail into little logs to use in his fireplace. He said they worked well.

  5. Loren

    I actually had the chance to go through this experience TWICE in my life. When I was a lot younger, I was into the New Age movement and then after getting out of that, I got drawn into “Prosperity” Theology.

    I have always loved books so, when the Lord brought me out of both of these things, I had quite a few resources to dispose of. It’s really kind of funny, because my first impulse in both situations was to either sell or give away these books and materials. I think that the enemy commonly tempts those delivered from these traps to want to do just that. But how can we even give something so evil and destructive to anyone?

    I think Kent’s reference to the new believers at Ephesus in Acts 19 gives us a good answer as to what the Lord would have us do with such materials. Whether they are burned or simply thrown away; I believe that it is best to follow the example of Scripture and dispose of them rather than let them fall into someone else’s hands.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Loren,

      I get it too — it’s hard to get rid of books. It’s so ingrained in us to not do that. But the way I look at it is it is my own property to do what I wish to do. If I’m giving something away to someone, I have to feel good about what I’m giving them. As you can see by the comments, it touched a nerve. I would not give away a book on canned hunting — I take great exception to that. I’m going to get rid of it and if someone wants to get their own book on that issue, they can go buy it. By the same token, I’m not going to give away books that I feel are teaching wrong theology. I can’t stop anyone from getting those books on their own but I’m not going to supply them with those books.

      Come to think of it, I never give anything to anyone that I don’t feel is right or good. Whenever I give anything to anyone whether it’s a gift for their birthday or whatever, that thing that I give says something about me. If it says the wrong thing about me, it goes in the trash.

  6. Loren

    Good point, Tishrei.

    I was reminded of a few months back when President Obama attended a conference of leaders from North and South America. Hugo Chavez, the Socialist dictator of Venezuela, presented Obama with a book about the “wonders of Socialism” as a gift. Why did he do so? Because Chavez is a Socialist and he BELIEVES in the precepts the book teaches. Like you said, the book says something about who he (Chavez) is.

    It would have been incongruous and grossly illogical if Chavez had presented Obama with say, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, which lays out the fundamentals of a Capitalist society. I am quite certain that if one of Chavez’s friends presented HIM with a copy of any book expounding Capitalism, it would very likely find a place in a nearby landfill.

    @Kent: I actually thought the joke worked the first time, I read it as having an intended sarcastic overtone :)

    1. Repent Harlequin

      Thank you, Loren. I hate to waste good material.

  7. Adam

    Hi all,

    I am actually incredibly surprised by the calm-ness of ya’ll response to my earlier post. I stand humbled. After I cooled down a bit and re-read what I wrote, I thought for sure that you would reply in a similar angry and threatening tone. I need to apologize to ya’ll. It was out of line and I used it as a way to vent about some religious notions that I do not agree with. However when you responded with kindness and patience you proved to me that you personally are a good person, as are some of the others that responded with decency and decorum that I did not portray myself.

    In all honesty I am an atheist, but I grew up going to church every Sunday and learning a great deal about Jesus and Christianity. It was a long quest of my own personal analysis, learning, and gut-wrenching realizations that brought me to my current beliefs. Probably very similar to the path that you have taken to reach your current beliefs. I get very very angry when I encounter religious people who abuse the word of god, pick and choose bible verses to follow, are close minded of other peoples beliefs and views, are hypocritical, and who end up being the exact opposite of the peaceful, humble and respectful teachings that Jesus lived by. They are the worst kind of religious people and unfortunately I think they are in the majority.

    You on the other hand seem to represent all that is good about religion. And it can be good. The basis of Christianity is all good. It is just what the all too-powerful church has done over time that has tainted the original positive message of Jesus. The combination of my negative bias towards religious people and the thought of you guys burning books a’la censorship and thought supression made me go off in a negative way. I haven’t read your earlier posts and I assumed the worst. I ended up portraying the kind of negative and judgmental person that I was ranting about. Again I apologize. I don’t want you to think bad of all atheists because of me. There is very little discourse between our two groups; it usually turns into nasty name-calling and anger. I like your rebuttal to my response and I actually agree with you. Although I still don’t like the idea of burning books, you are correct to say that you can do as you please with your own property. I knew I had a good feeling about you and you proved me right. I think you and I are probably more alike than we realize. Hopefully this little misunderstanding can inspire more thoughtful and deliberate discussion between people with two very different conclusions about life and philosophy.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Adam,

      That was an incredibly nice comment — and I really do mean that. Thank you. It does take a lot of humbleness to do what you did in an open forum.

      I did get the feeling that you had not read my post in its entirety but wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure because I thought perhaps you took exception to the idea of getting rid of books even if they were my very own property. I can say that I have never, in my life, burned or tossed someone else’s property — books or otherwise. The only things that I have gotten rid of is my own property.

      It’s late here — I was out for most of the evening but I wanted to at least respond to this very nice comment of yours. If I have time tomorrow, I’ll list a few posts that will hopefully show you that I too wish that the Church as a whole showed more of Christ’s love and teachings. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do NOT take exception towards the church because the Church is the living body of Christ. I take exception in how Christ is represented by many Christians.

      Anyway, again thank you for your last comment. I honestly did not expect to see you back here and I speak for myself, but I’m glad you came back and read the comments and read my initial post.

      Take care,

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