It has happened again, another lawsuit in the Christian publishing realm. Every time I hear of a Christian suing another Christian—including a Christian business entity—I think of I Corinthians 6 where Paul is admonishing the believers for taking their disputes to be judged by unbelievers.
Verse 7 of I Corinthians 6 states, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
The latest report of believers in the publishing world taking their case to court involves William Paul Young (the author of the bestselling The Shack) and his former Windblown Media partners Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. Mr. Young is suing his former partners over accounting improprieties that he claims have deprived him of $8 million in proceeds of sales (just through December 2008).
I do not know if Mr. Young sought arbitration before taking his suit to the California courts. Nor am I here to judge William P. Young or the Windblown Media folks.
I am here to say that it breaks my heart to see Christians in the business of writing and publishing books designed to bring people closer to God end up maligning the name of Christianity, and undermining the message of their books. After all, isn’t The Shack all about forgiveness and God’s love?
For those of you who do not know the story, Mr. Young could not find a traditional publisher to produce his book, The Shack. So, he and two friends, Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings, formed Windblown Media to publish the book themselves. The book became an overnight success.
Wikipedia says that The Shack had sold over 10 million copies and had been at number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List for 70 weeks as of May 1, 2010.
That folks is a lot of books and a lot of revenue (meaning $$$). Instead of falling into the footsteps of Pastors Francis Chen and Rick Warren, who have renounced the millions of dollars their books have made to help the less fortunate and spread the gospel, Mr. Young is asking a secular court system to give him money that he feels he has been cheated of.
Oh that we would let God settle our disputes rather than attempt to settle them in a way that does not bring glory to God’s name and tarnishes the reputation of Christianity.