Judging Books by their Covers

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5

According to an old saying one should never judge a book by its cover. Whilst this is true, one should also not ignore the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages that a book cover may convey. Sleazy magazines, for instance, can usually be judged by their covers.

With this in mind I cannot help but wonder about the fairly recent trend of putting full blown pictures of Christian authors on the covers of their books. If the aim of a book is to exalt Jesus Christ and him alone, why do I have to stare at the face of the author every time I pick up the book? Can you imagine Paul having his face painted on the scroll that contained the epistle to the Romans? Neither can I!

Reading James Chen’s transcribed talks in the remarkable little book The Passing of the Torch recently, I came across an interesting first-hand account that strengthened my misgivings. Chen, who was a friend of the well-known Chinese Christian Watchman Nee, said the following during one of his talks: “If Watchman Nee were here and if he heard me mentioning his name, he would be very unhappy. I feel I am saying too much about him. He never wanted anyone to exalt Watchman Nee more than Christ. He felt very deeply that his name should never take up even a little bit of the attention due the name of Jesus Christ. The Christians and the churches all over China, although they respected Watchman Nee, seldom mentioned his name – but they exalted Christ. Brother Watchman Nee was not our head, but Jesus Christ was our Head.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

(Bloemnuus 10 December 2010)

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