There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this book. Sadly, most of it has been made by people who have never read it themselves, only read about what other people thought about the book.
I’ll admit that at first, I did NOT like this book at all. It scared me because I took everything he said as what he was promoting and believed. But that was before I really *listened* to what he was saying. After I began to read it that way, I felt much more at ease.
Kelly and I led a group of girls through this book, and although the small group experience was really amazing, in hindsight I wouldn’t have. I think that this book is best absorbed with personal reading and digesting, with an overall discussion with a group of people at the end of the book, not with each movement (i.e. chapter).
Each movement had things I agreed and disagreed with, but that’s what made the book beautiful. It’s written for those who are on the brink of checking out of the church. They’ve had it up to “here” with hypocritical Christians, shallow churches, and a dillused view of Jesus. With that in mind, I can totally see how this book would help give those people hope again– hope that things don’t have to be the way they are, that God had something more in mind for the Church, and that Jesus was a radical lover of people who was serious about advancing the Kingdom of God. And to that, I say amen.
Here are some things that I really wrestled with, but ended up liking …
* “Central to the Christian experience is the art of questioning God.”
I’d grown up thinking questioning God was wrong. Just obey– don’t ask questions. No doubts allowed– that means lack of faith. But, I think I’ve been convinced that asking real, raw, vulnerable questions of God is vital and shows evidence of a real relationship with God.
* “The Bible is a communal book.”
Reading Scripture and living the Christian life in community. Why does the pastor get to say how to interpret Scripture? Because he’s got some degree under his belt? No way. God has gifted all the members of the local body, and God isn’t going to give one person all the pieces of the puzzle. Instead, we each come with lots of experiences in which God has taught us things, and a mind to think. So, when we all come together, we can all talk about our interpretation of Scripture, and then together see where the Lord leads us as a community.
*”Christian is a great noun, but a poor adjective.”
All truth is God’s truth. And if a Muslim points out truth, he/she is pointing out an aspect of God. Same with a Christian, or an atheist, or a Hindu. Christians don’t have a corner market on God. He reveals Himself to all kinds of people, and sometimes other people have it right and Christians don’t. We have to be willing and able to recognize God’s fingerprints in the world, and point it out to those around us. This is what Paul did, and this is what we do when we go to different states and nations to spread the Gospel. We’re not bringing God there, because He’s already there and active. We just are called to be tour guides– to point Him out. So, in a way, “unreached people groups” are not really unreached– God’s already working there.
*”Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker.”
Yikes, that sounds very….new age-ish to me at first. But as I heard him out, I heartedly agreed. Jesus dying on the cross was not ONLY so that we could have a “personal relationship with God.” It was also for the restoration of the entire world. Jesus came to unveil how the world works– how God created things to be. So, salvation not only affects us as individuals, but more importantly (?) as communities.
*”This is why litter and pollution are spiritual issues.”
Taking care of the environment, whether or not global warming is true, is VITAL in our relationship with God. When God created Adam and Eve, he COMMANDED them to care for creation– to lovely use it and creatively order it. Many Christians think that we can do whatever we want, because it’s “all going to burn anyway.” But, I’m sure those are the same people who think they deserve to have things they want because “God blessed me/America with the resources.” When in fact, when they use more than their fair share, they’re robbing people in other countries of the resources. God has just been revealing all of these connections to me between the earth, the global community, and how when we do one thing here, or they do one thing there, there is ramifications around the earth. And we have to be less selfish to realize that. I guess kinda like the butterfly affect. But, my, how I have digressed :).
He says some things that I don’t agree with, or I think that was a little careless in what is communicated, but, he clearly communicates to the reader not to take what he says as truth, but to test it, to pray about it, to take what is good and leave behind the bad. He says that God has spoken and the rest is just commentary. And isn’t that we do? We just give commentary. No one can change what God said, so as long as we hold the Word (read: written and non-written) in high esteem, I think we’ll be okay :).