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The Sad Decline of the Christian Retailer's Convention

Apparently, the International Christian Retailers Convention (it used to be known as the CBA convention) is in a sad state of decline.  Attendance at this year's convention in Orlando was half of what it was in 1999.  Click here: Low Numbers at Christian Retail Show     - 7/21/2008 7:16:00 AM - Publishers Weekly

There was a time when attending the annual Christian Retailer's Convention was truly the social highlight of the year.  The reason--the entire White Horse Inn crew was turned loose in a gigantic convention where every Christian publisher (heroes and heretics) and purveyor of "Christian merchandise" was on hand to sell their wares.

My favorite CBA incident was in Orlando in 1999.  Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, and I were walking down one of the aisles when we were passed by R. C. Sproul and Bob Ingram (going the other direction).  R. C. says (loud enough for us to hear), "Look at that . . . Horton's got a Lutheran.  I gotta get me one of them . . ."  Rod has never heard the end of that one.  Listening to Rod and R. C. playfully spar with one another is one of the highlights of my life!

And then there was the time when Mike Horton approached the dear little lady selling "Christian" bed sheets with Bible verses on them.  Mike asked her, "what book of the Bible are the verses from?"  Without missing a beat she answered, "Oh, the Song of Solomon, of course."  We should have known . . .

When CBA was held here in Anaheim, Jan Crouch from TBN showed up in all her glory.  Rod couldn't believe his eyes.  Jan had on some bizarre hot pink outfit that included leggings, culottes, a hoop-skirt, and a bib-apron.  Rod followed Jan around in utter disbelief trying to get my wife (like she would know) to explain to him what all of it was and why anyone would wear such a thing.  It was hilarious . . .

Yes, I miss the days when our producer (Shane Rosenthal) would take his video camera and ask people basic theological questions.  Even better, was the time Shane filmed a noted televangelist gorging himself on pancakes in the cafeteria while he was pushing a new book on dieting, or the time Shane caught another televangelist flirting with an attractive young lady in front of his booth, and the time Shane filmed another wearing a shiny royal blue suit which was so bright it had to glow in the dark. . .

Oh yes, CBA . . .  What fond memories . . .

Reader Comments (22)

Chris Roseboro (sp?) has called it the Den of Thieves Retail Show.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
Sproul is great. You never know what is going to come out of his mouth. You do know that it will either be profound or hilarious, though.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Weaver
I remember one White Horse Inn program, where they asked the question to those at the convention -- can you please explain the doctrine of justification?

Needles to say, even some to the pastors had a hard time with it!
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLloyd
I find the decline a very good sign and I appreciate the tongue and cheek tone of this post. The whole thing is a monstrous affair.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJEFFREY
I vote for giving every Reformed Calvinist a Lutheran. It might cost a lot, but, boy howdy, it sure is worth it. Horton figured that one out a long time ago. Mine was cheap (a twofer in Horton), but I bet a Rosenbladt fetches a pretty penny.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
O no! Does this mean the decline in such essential products as the WWJD bracelets and other gadgets??? I can't wait!
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy
I wonder if the noted pancake eating televangelist is the same one from San Antonio that looked into the TV camera and proclaimed that it was a sin to be fat. I wont mention any names but he hasn't missed any meals while politically advocating for Isreal. (Yes… that’s the one I’m talking about!)
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCimino
Speaking of "Cheap Grace" ("Who Said It?") and your latest post re: Christian sellers, I recall grabbing Zane Hodges' "Absolutely Free" off the shelf years ago, going up to the counter, and saying, "There's no charge for this one, right?" From the exasperated look on the salesperson's face, I don't think she exactly understood my question.

As for Jan's outfit, I'll bet if asked to defend it she'd say something like, "The Holy Spirit told me..." Yeah, right. ("God is not a God of confusion..." comes to mind.)
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
What will the Christian community do without a convention of junk purveyors ?

WWJD? I think it fizzled someplace between designer jewelry and designer clothing -- didn't even make it to a good line of cosmetics. And beverages! Don't even go there! After the gathering at Cana of Galilee, "What Would Jesus Drink" leaves most evangelicals cold -- and pretty sober ;-) .

If ICRC fails, we can always fall back on Concordia Publishing House where we can still get our "Here I Stand!" sweat socks (in navy blue), complete with the Lutheran rose.

I think they are for pastors to wear in the pulpit on Reformation Sunday.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDB
One memory for me is Shane [not to be confused w/ Zane -lol] asking a woman selling a Ten Commandments ribbon if she could name the Ten Commandments. She didn't even hesitate, admitting she could not, but she quickly replied, "but I do have this Ten Commandments Ribbon for you."

Or how about the young woman who when asked if she could name the Ten Commandments said something like "You shall not commit adultery" and that was the only one she knew [revealing what was on her mind].

In exasperation she then blurted out into the mic, "God, what a quiz" totally oblivious to the fact she was breaking the third commandment at that very moment. Apparently she spent a lot more time thinking about sex and the God's law saying don't do it, than she thought about God being holy and not messing w/ his name.

Great memories on the WHI!
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
oh, but the most ridiculous moment regarding the Ten Commandments was some man, who tried to avoid reality of his lack of care for the Ten Commandments.

When asked he simply said, "I might not know them, but I sure obey them".
Yes, sure buddy. Like you think anyone with half a biblical literate brain would fall for that one? How much less your Creator?
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIvan
I remember those ole WHI days. I loved those interviews.
Speaking of Shane and the videos...Kim you gotta post them! That would be greatness.
July 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGage Browning

Regarding the WWJD ware and other gadgets: at the X-tian Bookstore I worked at as a teenager, we called it "Jesus Junk" or "Holy Hardware."

If you think Jan's clothes were wild, you should come out to Colleyville, Texas and get an eyeful of the Crouch's three story pink mansion behind their Shiloh ranch! The guys from Set Free Christian Fellowship (who used to be featured on TBN) worked the ranch and attended my first wife's grandmother's church, so naturally, we were buds back then--for a while--until they all got kicked out for violating city codes for having too many people staying in the ranch hand's house.
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D. Chitty
I thought Dr. Horton was a Lutheran, not that there is anything wrong with that, after reading his book "Covenant and Salvation".
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdlzr

Horton a Lutheran? Ask Rod how much of a Lutheran he thinks Horton is!
July 23, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
No, don't ask Rosenbladt, ask Sandlin. It's more fun...
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
Perhaps Sandlin is suffering from Post-Millennial Syndrome (PMS). I don't think you can say Horton's view on two Kingdoms is strictly a Lutheran view. The two kingdom view is something both prudent Lutherans and sensible Reformers share.

However it does seem that some of Horton's work on Justification and Union with Christ tend to be a little more Lutheran than Reformed. He does take the view that Union with Christ is grounded in Justification.

Rather than Union being the hub or foundation of all the benefits of Christ including justification.

I don't mean this to be a knock on Horton, he is a great benefit to the Church and I pray will continue to be for many years.
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdlzr

I'm not at all sure how his views on justification can be said to be more Lutheran than Reformed; maybe you read the same sources that ascribe the categories of law and gospel to the Lutherans, even in light of something seminal like the HC. But if union being grounded in justification is "more Lutheran than Reformed," then I suppose there are worse things than being Lutheran. Like Baptist. Good thing justification and two-kingdoms really aren't sole property of Lutherans. Otherwise Sandlin would actually have a point.

PMS, he-he, yes, yes. Sandlin sure seems to have his panties in a bunch.
July 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
There's nothing wrong with being Baptist. In fact, come on in, the water's fine!
July 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Weaver
Is there a link to these videos?
July 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjaxdagger

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