The Norwegian Publishing House placed God center stage at the Oslo Book Festival, November 10-12, when they presented two books, Ærlig talt, Gud (Seriously, God) by pastor Harald Giesebrecht and Luther 500 by pastor Tor Tjeransen.
Publishing house leadership and the authors were anxious to see if people would turn up to attend the presentation of two religious books on a Saturday afternoon. “This is more about evangelism than marketing for the publishing house,” said Terje Dahl, Managing Director of the Norwegian Publishing House. They need not have feared. The ninety-seater hall booked for the Ærlig talt, Gud presentation was at least half-full.
Giesebrecht’s book deals with very important themes that challenge faith for many people.
“If God is really like the way some Christians portray him, then he is a moral monster,” he claimed, adding that such an image of God is very unattractive. Giesebrecht told the audience that the idea of an eternally burning hell is not compatible with the Jesus of the gospels.
Giesebrecht is not scared to answer some very pointed questions: Do I have to believe in hell? Does God demand the sacrifice of humans? Was Jesus a fire and brimstone preacher?
Tjeransen spoke on Martin Luther. Thirty people listened to his theme, “Corruption hunter by the grace of God.” He noted that today we are still reaping the benefits of the bold way Martin Luther criticized corruption in his medieval society. Tjeransen emphasized that even as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the ideas of the reformation must continue in contemporary society and still be inspired by the Bible.
Attending the Oslo Book Festival was a new experience for the publishing house, but is seen as an important new step in order to reach out to a wider public. Dahl plans to build on what they learnt this year in preparation for future participation. “The publishing house presented two titles that we believe the public should be aware of,” Dahl said. He sees these two titles as part of the publishing house assignment, to stimulate faith. “Some people claim that the reformation has no relevance in the present society. We say the reformation is relevant and must continue,” Dahl added.
“The book Ærlig talt, Gud paints a picture of God that is more correct than the image of God many have grown up with and that some atheists caricature. When we see the image of God that Jesus gave us, we get a better understanding,” Dahl commented.
Books from the Norwegian publishing house are sold in bookstores across the country, so while no books were sold at the festival, due to the presentations being on Sabbath, the new books will be readily available.