Monday, November 8, 2010

Jesus Didn't Come to Make Us Christian. . . .


The pile of books "to be read" in my office just keeps getting bigger and bigger. . . frustratingly big in fact! Every once in a while a new book darkens the doorway that I allow to jump to the front of the line, or top of the pile as it were. A couple of weeks ago one of those books showed up and I devoured it quickly. It never even made it to the pile. . . I just took it home and started reading.

It's a book by Dick Staub, a friend whose past books (Too Christian and Too Pagan, and The Culturally Savvy Christian)I've made required reading for students in classes I've taught. The feedback is pretty consistent - things like "thanks for making me read that book" and "that book was a life-changer for me." Staub's latest offering, About You - Fully Human Fully Alive, is good reading I'm "assigning" to anyone who reads this blog. It's good reading because it's filled with good writing that shatters some of the myths we've come to believe about God and ourselves, while offering a clear corrective regarding the ways things are and ought to be.

The book's cover is sure to attract attention from both Christians who think they know what being a Christian is all about, and non-believers who know Christians who have erroneously communicated what being a Christian is all about. Those facts hit readers when they spot this thought-provoking quote on the cover: "Jesus didn't come to make us Christian; Jesus came to make us fully human," words penned by Hans Rookmaker, a hero of the faith Staub and I share. Those words capture a reality that's so much bigger and better than what we've come to accept.

Rooted in the context of the unfolding Biblical drama of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, About You takes readers on a journey to discover what it means to be fully human, fully alive, and how to get there. This isn't a book about getting saved. This is a book about rediscovering the purpose, meaning, and shalom of life in the Garden. . . the echo of which haunts us all in our brokenness. About You engages both the saved and the seeker, leading them down the path to understanding one's self and all of life in the role we've been made to play in that great drama. It's a book about restoration that will open your eyes to who you were made to be and how to get there once again.

Thanks Dick, for making this all so clear and compelling.

4 comments:

Kate and Brad Aldrich said...

Thanks Walt,
I'll add it to my goodread's book list. I'll try to let it float to the top of my ever growing to read list too! Currently Bill Hybels "The Power of a Whisper" jumped to the top of mine...

Ron Wheeler said...

Wow, that is one very scary quote on the cover. I am not an old (okay, well kinda old) fuddy dud preacher guy with no concept of life, reality or teens. I have worked since 1984 as a volunteer in some fashion with youth and this quote scares the daylights outta me. I understand it is a cover quote to help draw attention and the whole book should not be judged by its cover but Jesus came with the sole intent of opening the eyes of the people to His father. He didnt come to entertain, to heal (by product to demonstrate who He was) and to sacrifice Himself to get us to His father, PERIOD. If being Christian is what it takes to get to the Father accirding to Christ, then this quote is a flat out lie. I agree with some that the Christian we sometimes see with the sign slamming gays or anyone else that sins is not a good sight to behold or desire to be affiliated with when we speak to unbelievers but who knows another mans heart except God. With the constant influx of "new and improved" Christianity that keeps showing up, we have to be very careful of what we out in our heads. Personally, I would not buy nor even read for free.

Anonymous said...

Ron, I understand faith as dying to one's religious identity and becoming a new person in the love of Christ. In this sense, I don't want to "be" a Christian. The name was used derogatorily towards 1c-3c followers. Dick isn't writing about "new & improved" faith. He's writing about 1c / essential faith that can be lived out in the 21c.

The quote on the cover of Dick's book is from Hans Rookmaaker, a Calvinist theologian and protege of Francis Schaeffer. I think the quote is spot on. I don't want to be known for my belief system (religion, Christianity) but my love for other people, which ultimately points back to the cross.

Daniel said...

Ron--Jesus did not say you had to be "Christian" to come to the father. There was no such thing! Let's be careful, lest we fall prey to the very thing Paul warned against, when he argued that you don't have to be circumcised (i.e., a nominally "Jewish" follower of Torah) to be declared righteous by God.

The book of John does have Jesus say:

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me."

There is a big difference.

Can someone fault the logic of the following paraphrase/ syllogism? "No one comes to the father [God], except through the Way, the Truth, and the Life." It sounds obvious, right? Crazy simple and yet crazy hard.

Regardless your theology, it is hard to read the New Testament and argue against the idea that Jesus came to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (Not simply to make us nominally "Christian" by dying for our sins.) The idea of the book--and the quote, apparently--is that Jesus came to make us fully human--as God intended. You can restate that as "save" "redeem" or "reconcile" as you wish.

Please do read the book, not simply its cover. Dick provides ample scriptural footing for his concept of "fully human" (including relationship with God). Even if you don't think it is comprehensive/well written, it is an awesome take on the gospel message that needs to be heard.