Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review - When Christians Get it Wrong

I just finished an advanced copy of Adam Hamilton’s When Christians Get it Wrong. I really like Adam Hamilton’s books for one main reason: while Hamilton is not one to break much new ground, he has the gift of writing with exceptional clarity. I rarely read his work and think “I had never thought of that.” Instead, I read it and think, “I never thought to put it like that.” I have to think that this is what has made him such a successful pastor; he has the ability to take complex and controversial ideas and clearly and lovingly explain them.

So here again, we have another book on how negatively Christianity is perceived and how Christians need to accept some of the blame for that and more importantly do something about it. David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyon’s book UnChristian seems to be the leader of the genre but a little snooping on Amazon will show you that there are a number of Christians talking about what is wrong with Christianity. (See also Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church, Jason Berggren’s 10 Thing I Hate About Christianity or the movie Lord Save us From Your Followers.) I have read a number of these and they all have some fascinating insights. What I like about Hamilton’s treatment is what I already mentioned: he makes it clear, he makes it understandable and he delivers it in a way I think people will be able to hear.

The book stems out of a conversation Hamilton had with a young man who had some strong negative perceptions of the Christian faith. He covers five main areas of perception: Christian behavior, science and politics, other religions, the problem of evil, and homosexuality. In each of these he clearly lays down some challenges – that we might have more than a perception problem, we may have a behavior problem and even an understanding problem. He offers some thoughts on widening our understanding and changing our attitudes. He also shows some examples of what it looks like when we “get it right.”

I will be honest, like some of his other work, this one will rub some folks, including readers of this blog, the wrong way. When you hit politics and homosexuality and call for some repentance and correction, someone will not agree. In the clarity of his writing does not leave a lot of room for interpretation – which is a good thing – unless you don’t agree with him. While it may not leave room for interpretation, it is good teaching and so it leaves room for learning and growing.

I hope people read this book. It is written at a level clearly appropriate for lay people. My review copy came in at around 85 pages so is the perfect length for Sunday school classes, small groups and reading groups. I look forward to it coming out so that I can read your comments.



*disclosure note, Abingdon Press provided an advanced copy of the book to me, at no charge, for review.
blog comments powered by Disqus