Friday, March 20, 2009

Smyth & Helwys' "Disclaimer"

"Fiction" and "Disclaimer" -- Both Mean
That What You Read May Be Untruthful

Our generous and courteous brother from Enid, Pastor Wade Burleson, has furnished us with a little humor.

Wade enjoys a grin, and I'm sure he won't begrudge our grinning at some of his rather humorous predicaments. Lately, for example, Brother Wade has published the following remark about the book entitled, The Shack:

The Shack is Christian FICTION. What seems humorous to me is the feeling by some that it is necessary to place a Read With Discernment tag on the book. Sometimes I feel we Southern Baptists are the equivalent of second graders spiritually. Here you have a book that is Christian fiction. There is no illicit sex, no foul language, and no promotion of immorality in the book. For heaven's sake, it was written for the author's own CHILDREN. But we stamp a Read With Discernment tag on it. (End of quote).

The "funny thing" about this which will probably make you grin is the fact that while Wade carps about this "Read With Discernment" tag, his new book, Hardball Religion, published by Smyth & Helwys Publishing, carries an even greater "read with discernment" tag.

Wade's book carries a DISCLAIMER ("Christian Disclaimer"?), which is a statement warning you right up front that the contents of the book cannot be presumed to be truthful, historical, factual, reliable, or otherwise trustworthy. The Publisher wants you to know that the Publisher assumes no responsibility for the accuracy and truthfulness of anything the writer has written.

There's one big difference between William Young's book and Wade Burleson's book: Young tells you right up front that the book is "fiction." On the hand, Wade wants you to believe what he has written is truth, but the Publisher evidently has some reservations about it, so the "Disclaimer" is placed up front to ostensibly relieve the Publisher of accountability.

I find that contrast worth a grin -- in fact, in the light of Wade's remarks about Lifeway's "Read With Discernment" tag, this contrast has become a laughing matter.


  1. Bob, maybe the reason for the disclaimer about the book, "THE SHACK" is its very questionable theology. While the book is interesting, and even moving in some parts, its theology is way off. For example, God the Father is represented as a large black woman, and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. I have nothing against women, but the Bible, God' s Holy Word, prohibits misrepresenting God. In the book, God the Father also dances to rock music. So, though the author says he wrote the book for his children, it certainly gives false ideas to them about God. Also, the book's point of departure from what we fundamentalists consider orthodox theology is found in the chapter called, "The Great Sadness," on page 65 in my copy. Here we are told, "In seminary he (Mack, a key person of the book) had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God's voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects. It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners' access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia. Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?"
    My point from this quote is, once one departs from the orthodox view of Scripture one becomes like a leaf blowing in the wind, and where one ends up is anybody's guess. The Bible itself, in Ephesians 4:14, warns Christians against being carried about by every wind of doctrine. I think the author of the book is blowing in the wind of false doctrine.

  2. To Bruce:

    Thanks for the summary, Bruce. I don't have any patience with fiction, and so haven't read The Shack. I leave the fiction to fellows like Mohler and Wade. I got Mohler's take on it (negative) and I got Wade's take (positive), and it still doesn't matter to me. They can have it. It will probably soon be just another forgotten book of fiction.

    In Wade's case, he is overloading his brain with -- more than anything else, it seems -- running the Branch Office of the "FBC Jacksonville Watchdog" which is devoted to harassing Pastor Mac Brunson and his church.

    Whatever is wrong at Jax'ville most likely is not half so bad as Wade lets on, and may not be as tenth as bad as Wade's own mess he has made with his book on the IMB. He's already probably had "second thoughts" about his writing of that best-smeller.

  3. Bob:

    A “disclaimer” by a publisher is hardly a ringing endorsement of a book. With Mr. Burleson’s apparent erroneous allegations of Landmarkism and now news of a Publisher’s “disclaimer,” the book is starting from a deficit even before its release. It makes sense for Mr. Burleson to discontinue discussion about his book since it is facing enough obstacles

  4. Ian, if you have read much of Wade's blogs, you know he counts heavily on the "Sources" Family. I suppose his publisher realized that was the case with the book, so S&H tacked on the Disclaimer. That seems to be S. O. P. when what's reported is without anything to substantiate it.

  5. Bob:

    I have read his blog and have noticed occasional reliance on “sources” for claims, but surely Mr. Burleson has provided documentation in the book to substantiate his claims rather than just ‘hearsay’, for he was on the IMB Board of Trustees at the time. While documentation does not guarantee accuracy of ‘interpretation’ – for example, the Landmark allegations – it does give weight to the things recounted in this kind of book. If this is lacking, then it would be a reason for Smyth & Helwys to add a “disclaimer” and absolve themselves of responsibility for the contents of the book.

  6. Ian, unless Wade has taped recordings of what he most likely will report about private IMB meetings, what so-and-so said, what was said on the phone, etc. it would be like a "she said, he said" matter. And if Wade does like we have already witnessed, how much to believe will be uncertain. I'm going to take the Disclaimer for what its worth -- beware of what is written that is not supported by objective verification.