Monday, March 16, 2009

The Tabernacle Bookshop


Next in our occasional series 'In Many Bookshops with Mr. Charmley', is the Tabernacle Bookshop, London. Located behind the Metropolitan Tabernacle, famed for the preaching of C.H. Spurgeon, the Tabernacle Bookshop is a ministry of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and as such the books found in the bookshop are personally vetted by Dr. Peter Masters, the present pastor. And herein lies my only complaint about the shop. The stock is extremely limited according to Dr. Masters' preferences. Thus it gives a good idea of what Dr. Masters recommends, but this means, conversely, that any book or author with which he has certain differences will be excluded. Sadly this means that very few of Dr. Lloyd-Jones' books will be found here, and that of Tom Nettles' three-volume work The Baptists, only volume one is available. Asking the staff to order in books is a risky business, and not recommended unless you are prepared for an argument. Strangely enough, Dr. Masters stocks the commentaries of Albert Barnes, despite Barnes' semi-Pelagian Finneyesque revivalism, and his incipient four-point Calvinism. All of which goes to show that no-one can be 100% consistent. This is a good shop for what it stocks, and has had a lot of money from me over the years, but don't expect the 'full spectrum' mentioned on the website banner. I have no objection to vetting the books stocked in a shop, I just think that the criteria used in the Tabernacle bookshop are perhaps too strict. Last time I was there the shelves looked rather empty, but that was probably the after-effects of Christmas.
Next (DV): EMW shop in Cardiff.
Others in consideration are the Heath Christian Bookshop, Cardiff, and Harvest Books and Crafts, Pontypridd. As this is a blog, these are opinionated articles that do not reflect the views of anyone but the author (although others may agree with him). The fact that a bookshop is reviewed here obviously does not constitute a recommendation of either the bookshop or everything stocked in it. In fact it simply means that I have the ability and the inclination to get to the shop in question. Unless otherwise mentioned, I have bought items from the bookshops reviewed. Sometimes quite a lot of items...

3 comments:

Jonathan Hunt said...

I'd add that you can't read _everything_ into what is and is not there. There are several issues (as I understood it when I was a member and volunteered in the shop). Firstly, doctrinal soundness, then usefulness (is the work done in another volume better?) and third, value (is the work overpriced for what it is). A fourth matter, what the author may believe on other topics or may have written elsewhere, is also in play but I don't know to what extent.

As time passes and new books 'fade' they will often be dropped as well. 'Evangelicalism Divided' by Murray was not a book PM agreed totally with, but it was stocked as it said some things no other work did. There is not a consistent 'standard' as decisions are a personal choice.

My only 'complaint' is that books take so long to get into the shop after publication, meaning I rarely buy new books from there now as I can't be bothered to wait six months!

You didn't mention the good value the shop represents either.

There, I shall take my ex-Tabernacle hat off now ;-)

Evangelical books said...

Hi Gervase,

I am not going to defend/criticise the Tab bookshop. Compared to CLC or Wesley Owen, I am VERY thankful that at least someone is "vetting" the books. I am also VERY thankful for the discounts.

However, there are some authors and books sold which I would avoid. Peter Masters, like all of us, has his 'blind spots' - that comes through in the choice of books sold.

Yours sincerely,
Jenson

PS: I would also suggest
1) Christian Bookshop Pratt's Bottom, Kent
2) Grace Books and Cards, Droitwich
3) Geneva Books, London

Highland Host said...

Note that I am limited to bookshops I have actually been to! Thus most of these stores are in Wales, or places where I have been in England.

On the point of vetting, I agree that there has to be some, and there is in all Reformed bookshops, owing to the horrific broadness of what goes under the name 'evangelical' these days. As I said, I simply think that Dr. Masters has drawn the circle too narrowly in some places, most notably with Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and in some cases the circle is less than round. My opinion is not simply mine, but let me say that I have often patronised the Tabernacle Bookshop, and I would never say 'don't go there', quite the reverse! Unless of course someone asks about a book I know the Tab won't stock, of course!