Really Long Theology Books Are Not Written to be Read

Marketers have many tricks to fool people into buying their product. One of them is to blow you away with a plethora of information. Advertisements and salesmen will go on and on with statistics, jargon, detailed descriptions, and lengthy explanations.

Marketers have figured out that lengthy verbiage is a great way to make yourself sound authoritative. People will trust you’ve done your homework, you know what you’re talking about, and can be trusted.

Here’s the thing though: No one actually reads or hears the lengthy stuff!

From a book analyzing marketing comes this sentence, “The more information you’re given, the more impressive it seems, and so the less carefully you evaluate its merits.”

To put it another way, “Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”

I wonder if this doesn’t hold true for theology as well?

We trust guys who wrote really long theology books. Anyone who can use that many words on a subject must know his stuff. We don’t bother to check if he does by reading his words, we just assume he must by the length of his book.

An added benefit is that if I have these large volumes on my shelf, I now look authoritative! Wow, Jeff has really big books on his shelf. Big books are written by people who know everything. People who have those books must know everything too.

Calvinists respect John Calvin for his writings. People respect Augustine for his volumes. People respect Luther and all his works. I wonder how many Calvinists, Augustinians, and Lutherans have read the books written by their guys?

I’m pretty sure it’s a minority. Yet they think they agree with them because some guy who also didn’t read them told you what they said, because some guy who told them knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who actually read the books once.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Some people do read long books and some of those long books are good. But this is a rare thing.

You can take my word for it, I just wrote a really long blog post about it.

5 Thoughts on Satan and Cynicism

God asked Satan if he had observed righteous Job. Satan had, which first of all, lets you know that true righteousness is always visible, as John said, “Be not deceived, he who does righteousness is righteous.” We like to prove righteousness by numbers of followers, bank balances, or some other external measuring line. God measures righteousness by whether you do righteous stuff.

Secondly, although Satan is aware of Job’s righteousness, Satan is highly cynical. Satan believes Job is only obedient to God because life is going well. Take away Job’s good stuff and his faith will disappear too. This leads me to several points about Satan and cynicism

  1. Cynicism is often an admission of guilt. Perhaps Satan is so cynical because Satan fell himself. Seeing someone actually listen to God, even a lowly human, perhaps makes Satan feel guilty. Our own guilt often makes us question the sincerity and spirituality of others. It says less about them and plenty about us.
  2. Cynicism is Satan’s territory. I am a very cynical guy. I like to think my cynicism is pure wisdom in action. I know things about people. But I have often wondered if my cynicism is more flesh than Spirit. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We are to test the spirits. But cynicism is a destroyer and knows no limits. It takes down the pure and the dirty.
  3. Cynicism is often right. Satan assumes that faith will fall when life goes bad. Clearly this has happened many times. Satan would be right in general on this charge, just horribly wrong in Job’s case, just as Job’s friends were generally right, but not with Job. The Health and Wealth Gospel is Satan’s point here. Take away the Health and Wealth and the Gospel, for many, disappears too. Often this is true, but not always.
  4. Cynicism should be viewed cynically. I recently read the autobiography of George Muller, who supported hundreds of orphans, yet never asked for money, he only prayed. There were several things in the book that made me question Mr. Muller. So, my cynicism of Mr. Muller, does it reveal a problem with Mr. Muller, or is Jeff just feeling guilty he doesn’t trust God and pray enough? I know enough about cynicism to make me cynical of it. I doubt my own doubting of others. However, being cynical of cynicism is a Catch-22.
  5. Cynicism can be good. For my proof text, I point you to Proverbs 14:15, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” Wise people don’t believe everything they hear. They doubt some stuff. Part of being wise is learning who to trust and who to doubt. Doubting the right people is important for remaining wise!

We need to be careful with cynicism. It has its place, but out of place, it ruins ourselves and others. It’s nigh on impossible to be cynical and loving at the same time. Love believes all things, remember. Perhaps it is possible to not believe someone and yet not be cynical of them.

I confess to you that this is a tough issue for me. Just writing down some thoughts to help me sort through it. Or am I?

Lowest Recorded Body Temperature by a Living Person

The human body typically maintains a temperature of 98.6 degrees. Through a series of beautifully designed processes, the body tries to maintain this temperature despite environmental challenges.

Shivering is a typical response to cold as your body works to get blood moving. Goose bumps form as little air pockets to add insulation. Your blood flow will dilate or constrict in an effort to save the body.

Hypothermia sets in if the body temp drops to 95 degrees.

Which begs the question: What is the lowest recorded body temperature of all time? I’m so glad you asked.

56.7 degrees! That’s the lowest body temperature recorded by a surviving victim. She was a skier who fell through the ice and was rescued after 80 minutes. She survived with only some permanent nerve damage.

The previous record was held by an anonymous homeless woman found sleeping on the streets of Chicago in -11 temperatures. She was thought to be dead, but a faint heartbeat was detected. Her core body temp was 64.

The body is an amazing thing. So fragile, yet so resilient. A marvel of creation.