Thursday, 16 April 2009

unChristian book review

Hypocritical, anti-homosexual and judgemental. That is how Christians are described in the book UnChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.

Kinnaman is a professional Christian researcher whose company embarked on an extensive three year research to find out just what people think about Christians and Christianity in America. The result, as detailed in UnChristian, is not a pretty one.

Not only are Christians perceived to be hypocritical, anti-homosexual and judgemental, many also believe that we have a hidden agenda of wanting to convert them when we befriend them. We are seen as irrelevant and lacking authenticity and sincerity.

“So many Christians are caught up in the Christian sub-culture and are completely closed off from the world. We got to church on Wednesdays, Sundays and sometimes on Saturdays. We attend small group on Tuesday night and serve on the Sunday school advisory board, the financial committee, and the welcoming committee. We go to barbeques with our Christian friends and plan group outings. We are closed off from the world. Even if we wanted to reach out to nonChristians, we don’t have time and we don’t know how. The only way we know how to reach out is to invite people to join in our Christian social circle.” (Page 130).

The data in UnChristian may be based in America, and Americans may relate more to the content than others, but the core material is still highly relevant. UnChristian is a book that every Christian should read. For those who shy away from statistics, UnChristian is not simply a book that provides data. Kinnaman analyses the information and gives Christians strategies on how to solve the problems in a Biblical, Christ-centred way.

It is a book that provides the harsh reality and makes no attempt to gloss things over. And yet it provides a saving grace, bringing the readers back to the Bible and revealing how Jesus would have solved the problems. Also included are success stories and thoughts from those who have managed to connect with the community around them in a convincing and helpful way.

“In our efforts to point out sin, we often fail to do anything for the people who are affected by sin. Think of it this way. The perception is that Christians are known more for talking about these issues than doing anything about them. Based on our survey, a majority of outsiders say Christians are quick to find fault with others.” (Page 184).

UnChristian is not simply a wake-up call to Christians, it spurs you into action. The heart of its message is about grace – remembering the grace we received from God, and extending it to others unreservedly.

Official website.


Mansfield said...

Thinking along those lines I would recommend Frank Viola's Reimagining Church and Pagan Christianity books. Thought provoking, draw your own conclusions :)

Perseus said...

it provides a saving grace, bringing the readers back to the Bible and revealing how Jesus would have solved the problemsSo it's a book by Christians about how Christians can become more alienated Christians? See, speaking from the heathen's side, it's the Bible that's the problem, or, at least, many of the interpretations of it.

We have nothing against Chistians personally, but when you bring up, say, creationism, we tune off and can't take you seriously.

A book that Christians can read that explains how heathens think about themselves rather than how we think of you would, prima facie, seem to be more relevant.

Perseus the heathen.

Perseus said...

Oh, and added to that - from a heathen's point of view - you may very well appreciate intimately the difference between say Adventism, Catholicism, Hare Krsnas and Islam, and we heathens know they are all very different, but we will still put you all in the same category as God Believers, and we are those with the absence of that belief.

It is true to say that you have more in common with an extremist Islamic terrorist than I do. You both believe in a sentient God, and you both believe you will survive your own death.

Melody said...

Hi Perseus,

Sorry, but I'm afraid I may have given the wrong idea with my quote.

I feel that the book is about how Christians can relate better to non-Christians, written in a way that Christians can understand.

It's not about preaching to the non-Christians, it's about being better people to them.

You may believe whatever you want about the Bible, but do give us Christians the opportunity to believe whatever we want about the Bible as well.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus treated everybody in a way that we want to emulate - kind, loving, gracious, generous - and that was the essence of the book. How we can emulate Jesus when we treat others.

Not how we can can bash other people over the head with the Bible.

The point of the book is not a how-to on converting others, it is how-to relate better to others in a genuine manner.

But because it is written for Christians, you would naturally expect it to have certain assumptions and a certain "lingo".

I am sorry that you would categorise us as extremists, and terrorists. Killing people in a wanton way is not what the majority of Christians, and even Muslims, want to do.

kris said...

One of the difficulties i've noticed is that non believers see books about how christians can relate to them and they instantly get suspicious. They believe that the only reason that a christian would want to befriend a nonchristian, is to convert them. They often don't realise that the befriending is entirely selfish on the part of the christian. you see, when you live in christian community, go to church, meet the same people, it is hard to be challenged. Genuinely befriending a non believer helps us to understand our own belief system better. It isn't to convert is to see what we, ourselves, are really like.

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perseus said...

" how-to relate better to others in a genuine manner."

Fair enough, though us heathens aren't that hard to relate to. Ultimately, we are the same as you. We want to lead enriching lives. Heathens and Christians can both look in awe at the sunset. We just don't believe in God, that's all.

Oh, and sorry if it came across wrong, but I certainly wasn't suggesting you guys act like terrorists. I was trying to say that Christians and Islamic terrorists alike perpetuate the God-myth, and believe you are doing things that God wants you to do, and in that, we lump you in the same category... but not in the same catgeory as individuals.

"As Christians, we believe that Jesus treated everybody in a way that we want to emulate - kind, loving, gracious, generous - and that was the essence of the book"

Except the bit about damnation for ETERNITY! I'm a big fan of the Old Testament, I love it, it's so violent, sexy and beautiful all at once. I thought God went downhill when Jesus came along. See, God was a violent psychopath making no apologies for his behaviou, and I can deal with that, because at least when you died that was the end of the terror. Your mate Jesus comes along, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and he loves me and dies for me and forgives me and all that, but in return I have to supplicate myself or face ETERNAL damnation. What a rort! So, a pedophile who supplicates and repents gets into Heaven, and a law-abiding heathen like me doesn't? Love thine enemy? Why? My enemy might be a violent idiot! Stupid, stupid system.

By the way, I'm not writing this to argue. This is to display how we think and the challenges you face in relating to us. Not only do we not believe in Jesus-in-the-afterlife, we also think that even if He was real, he stinks.

"non believers see books about how christians can relate to them and they instantly get suspicious"

Some would, but not all. I don't. I just think you'd be better off reading non-religious material to understand us.

Wanna understand what drives us? Read Macbeth, or Crime & Punishment, or 100 Years of Solitude, or even directly... Twilight of the Idols.

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