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ChurchWatch: Craig von Buseck

Join Craig von Buseck each weekday as he shares his perspective on the major trends and news affecting the Body of Christ today.


july 12, 2006

Fiction, Darwin, and Old Testament Prophecy at CBA

Fiction is the reigning prom queen at this year’s Christian Booksellers Association convention – The International Christian Retail Show, 2005. Enormous, full-color banners greet visitors as they enter the Denver Convention Center with larger-than-life photos of well-known Christian fiction authors like Jerry Jenkins, Frank Peretti, and Terri Blackstock.

Nearly every Christian publishing house is featuring an impressive display of novels, in most cases sharing equal shelf space with the non-fiction offerings. This mirrors the growing success of the Christian fiction genre that continues to increase in popularity and book sales.

This trend, in large part, has followed the earth-shaking success of the Jenkins/LaHay “Left Behind” series. This fiction phenomenon is a marked difference from the first CBA convention I attended just four years ago in 2001. At that show in Atlanta, there were some industry leaders in the fiction department – like Baker and Tyndale – but much of the Christian publishers featured only a smattering of fiction.

Not so today. Christian fiction, it seems, is here in a big way – and, hopefully, is here to stay!

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the popular and very entertaining Frank Peretti, with his lovely wife, Barbara. Speaking of the success of his latest suspense thriller, “Monster”, Peretti talked about the process of bringing his characters to life.

“Part of the creative process,” he explained, “is how you basically ‘chalk-up’ the characters that you want. But then there is that point where you cross a line of some kind. You go past a certain point and they do take on a life of their own. That’s part of ‘finding it.’ That’s a term I just came up with. You know, there’s writing, and then there’s really writing. It’s like the difference between sketching and painting. You can recount an incident that happened, or you can ‘be there’ -- and you can take your reader there.”

Watch for the full interview with Frank Peretti coming soon on

Since this is the “International Christian Retail Show”, books and authors are only a part of the picture. This convention also features dozens of companies and ministries featuring music, video, Christian-oriented art, and various other items found in your local Christian bookstore.

One group making an impact in the realm of Christian video is Campus Crusade for Christ and their production company, Randolf Productions. Two of their recent releases have caused somewhat of a stir in the scientific and entertainment communities. In his daily “Breakpoint” article, Charles Colson recently recommended the new video on the concept of Intelligent Design entitled, “The Privileged Planet”. (see Breakpoint, Nov. 24, 2004).

This film has caused quite a stir in the scientific and political community. Recently, the Smithsonian Institute decided to drop its co-sponsorship of this film after buckling under pressure from the pro-evolution scientific establishment. Instead of allowing open discussion and debate on the various theories, it gave way to the tired argument that Darwinism is the only possible explanation for the origin of all things.

Writing in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, co-author of “The Privileged Planet”, Jonathan Witt, explained, “…in a statement that the film’s content is not consistent with its [the Smithsonian’s] scientific mission … the editorial said, ‘While “The Privileged Planet” is an extremely sophisticated religious film, it is a religious film nevertheless. It uses scientific information … to answer, affirmatively, the philosophical question of whether life on Earth was part of a grand design.’”

Witt points out that The Post granted that the film explored scientific information. “It is the film’s conclusion that The Post and the Smithsonian find inappropriate. Curiously, the museum has no problem sponsoring events that advance the opposite conclusion.” (see a related Wall Street Journal article, “The Branding of a Heretic” by David Klinghoffer, Jan. 28, 2005)

The new DVD/video, “The Privileged Planet” is a useful resource for students and teachers in learning about the evidence of design in the universe – and it is narrated by John Rhys-Davies of “The Lord of the Rings” movies.

The latest Campus Crusade/Randolf Productions release, also narrated by Rhys-Davies, is entitled, “Prophecies of the Passion”, featuring commentary from noted Bible teachers and authors Greg Laurie, Lee Strobel, and Ed Hindson. This compelling new video explores the ancient biblical promises of the Messiah and their amazing fulfillment – touching the hearts and minds of both believers and skeptics alike. The DVD features the one-hour film, plus a virtual art gallery, reference library, 40-minute question and answer session, and complete Scripture reference from both the Old and New Testaments.

To learn more about these dynamic films go to

Tomorrow: Enter the world of Narnia!

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