Why Does CBA Exist?
One of the primary areas of questioning about CBA is why it exists in the first place. Many are concerned that it means Christians are trying to stay “set apart” rather than “in the world.” Others wonder about the value of “preaching to the choir” when perhaps we should be out evangelizing to non believers instead. Many couch the questions in negative terms, like wondering if the point of CBA is to keep Christians “insulated” from the world in some kind of a “bubble” that needs to be burst.
Let me just start here: In my opinion, the Christian publishing industry is NOT about keeping Christians insulated, safe, set apart, or in a bubble. It’s NOT about limiting your ability as a Christian writer to write whatever you want or feel called to. In fact, Christian publishing is about the opposite: It’s about freedom.
The Christian publishing industry began with companies who published Bibles; then came the need for books to help people understand the Bible. The rest of the Christian publishing business grew out of the need to have a place for Christians to write freely, honestly, and openly about all aspects of the Christian faith.
Rather than look at CBA as a limiting, stifling place, it’s better to understand it as a place of amazing freedom to write candidly about life in Christ, life based on the precepts of the Holy Bible, life lived in pursuit of the God of that Bible. There is a freedom to talk about every single aspect of life, from relationships to finances to health to business practices, in a way that includes the Biblical perspective on it and addresses the daily, moment-to-moment struggle to live this life of faith.
Within that definition, there’s plenty of room for questions. How much freedom? you may ask. And all the other questions about what’s allowed and what’s not, whether to write to believers or non-believers… we can discuss all of those. But what I want you to keep in mind as we delve into those other aspects (in future blog posts) is how incredibly fortunate we are to live in a society in which a CBA is possible. The CBA represents our truly awesome liberty to openly discuss our faith amidst this increasingly secular society.
Why does CBA exist? I like to think it’s to give Christians a free and open forum for discussion; and to give seekers and nonbelievers a place to turn for answers to any and all of their questions about the Christian faith. This would not be possible within the structure of the mainstream publishing world.
I don’t think the fact that CBA exists as a specialized niche within the larger publishing arena is a negative in the least. Everything in our culture is specialized. For music, you can turn to record labels that provide the type of music you enjoy. If your tastes are more mainstream, you can shop at Wal-Mart. If you want something a bit more specific or unusual, you’ll need to shop at a special store. Nobody’s saying there’s anything wrong with that, right? Same with anything. If I want some basic sporting goods like a basketball or a kids’ bike, again I might stop by Wal-Mart. But if I want some new skis or a high-quality mountain bike, I’m going to the ski store or the bike shop. In fact, I greatly appreciate the fact that there are manufacturers and stores who specialize specifically in exactly what I want.
By the same token, I appreciate that there are manufacturers (publishers) and stores who focus on the Christian reading materials I want. Does that make sense?
I suppose many of you will want to poke a thousand holes in this, the very first of my attempts to explain some of the whys and hows of the CBA, and that’s okay. But as you do, remember how fortunate we are to be able to discuss all aspects of our faith freely and openly; how great it is to be able to find a book on just about any topic from a Christian perspective; and most of all, that’s it’s totally your choice whether to be involved in CBA publishing or choose to target ABA publishers instead.
Keep your questions coming and I’ll do my best over the next few weeks to supply some answers.