Book Reviews,  Theology/Bible

An unseemly troll but a fine review

Several weeks (months?) ago I received a package in my faculty mailbox at work. I was so taken aback by it that I snapped a photo of it (at right). It was obviously a book mailer, but the label on the outside said this:

“Are Conservative Evangelical Men More Likely To Abuse Their Wives?”

I didn’t even know what was inside the package, but I already knew that this was a transparent troll—a marketing ploy. They send out a book to a bunch of conservative evangelical men, and then they put a label on the outside of the package with an ugly insinuation about conservative evangelical men. The publisher wasn’t merely trying to get me to read the book. They were trying to provoke me.

I’m sure the author had nothing to do with the marketing gimmick, but my first inclination was to ignore the book. I didn’t even know what the book was, but I knew I didn’t want to respond to the troll. In fact, I was disinclined even to read the book. It felt like dirty pool, and I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t read the book. I glanced through it, and then set it aside.

Since then, I’ve read some reviews, but I still haven’t read the book. And I don’t plan to. I’ve been getting similar trolls from different folks on the internet. Clearly, people are trying to provoke a response.

Today confirmed that I wasn’t the only one to receive the unpleasant mailer. Tony Reinke tweeted a picture of what he received in the mail, and it looked just like mine.

I am very grateful to see that Melissa Kruger has written a very fine review of the book for The Gospel Coalition. As it turns out, the book narrates a very painful story, but it also draws some unwarranted conclusions from that story. I still have no plans to review this book myself. I think Kruger now has the definitive review, and you can read it here.

UPDATE: I would be remiss if I failed to mention Tim Challies’s excellent review as well. It highlights many of the same weaknesses that Kruger identifies and is very well done.

UPDATE #2: It has come to my attention that this book repeats a false allegation against one of my colleagues (see page 48). The author’s source for the false allegation is two liberal websites that distorted a sermon that my colleague preached back in 2008. Thankfully, the false accusations are easily refuted because the sermon is available online for anyone to listen to. For my refutation of the false allegation, read here. I am really disappointed that the author of this book would repeat a claim that bears false witness against a brother (Exodus 20:16).


  • Bruce Symons

    Sorry, I meant comments on Kruger’s and McKnight’s blogs. Challies allows comments only through Facebook etc.

  • Christiane Smith

    very important for Christians to keep their focus on Our Lord . . . and to avoid sending out signals that might attract the wrong kind of people

    there are extremes seen among cults, and when the public views these extremes, there is trouble for a denomination when the public extrapolates the behaviors present in certain cults as also present in certain denominations

    I think that is what has happened in some cases, yes. But highly visual behaviors of some Christian people have given the public cause for concern and in my own Church, we call these behaviors the sin of ‘scandal’ . . . what follows is unfair, often misunderstood, and messy, but sometimes works for the good when hypocrisy is exposed among certain ‘leaders’ who have gotten into trouble and tried to deal with it in the wrong ways.

    The ‘troll’ ? Was he or she given any evident scandal to focus on?
    And if so, what can be learned from how this happened and how it can be made right in the light of Christ for His sake and the sake of the whole Church.

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