"Many of us feel on a visceral level that faith should not be reduced to a tool of social control or political manipulation. We believe faith has a more important and creative role to play in human life and evolution."
If you feel this quote describes your current state of mind, than this is a book you should read. Brian D. MacLaren takes a hard look at the things we think we know about the Christian faith and then says "let it go". He seeks to encourage Christians to move forward and seek out even better ways to be Christian, to be human.
This book is a big undertaking, and for the most part I think it succeeds at its goal. I had a lot of thinking to do while reading this book. There is so much that we hold as important to our Christian faith that are either founded in complete untruth or simply from misreadings we have since long moved past but have never considered to rethink. Brian's message may seem harsh and too extreme, but it's meant to be that way. If we don't take a harsh look what we think we know, we won't recognize the places we may have gotten it wrong.
While he points to the areas we need change, Brian also holds that we should not be seeking to quickly criticize those we feel are not changing with us. Instead, to practice the Christian way of life he urges us to simply start practicing love to all, even those we disagree with. His encouragement is to begin building a better faith we should be putting it into action, including loving on those who oppose us. As he puts it, "the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better".
Now I'm not saying I agree with everything MacLaren was going for, nor do I want you to when you read it. I don't think he does either. But there are many great truths in this book to take from this, and even if you choose not to, it's still a great exercise in figuring out where your faith stands and where your beliefs are. It also reads well, with great discussion questions at the end of each chapter (including the introduction) so that it can easily be used for a book club. There are some places where I feel too much is left unsaid by the author, leaving me unsure about what his view on the subject is. However, those are probably meant to be like that, to make you think for yourself rather than just taking someone else's word.
"Christian faith for me is no longer a static location but a great spiritual journey. And that changes everything."
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