Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Being A Christian Without Being An Idiot by Brad Stine

"I believe the follower's number one purpose in life is to demonstrate reasonably, authentically, and lovingly, the truth, which is Jesus"

As far as style, the book was harder to read than it should have been. Stine sets up each of his topics with a short comedy routine, which may or may not have anything to do with the actual chapter. As he notes, a lot of his material would go off better said than read.

However, I thought this was an excellent book. A lot of the concepts are taken from C. S. Lewis, and brought into modern times, looking at ten assumptions most Christians make, and challenging us to take a closer look at our beliefs so that we can better reach the world for Christ.
1. “Satan causes most of the problems for Christians.”

I thought this was an odd place to start, but as I read, I found myself agreeing – many of our problems do stem from our own disobedience. It is easier to blame others, even Satan himself, than to take responsibility for our own actions. I did think his definition of a Christian could use some clarifying, “The truth is, if you believe Jesus is God and is the only way to salvation, then guess what? You’re a Christian.” Not true, it is not belief in the concept, but acceptance of the reality in repentance that makes the difference in a life.

2. “Christians shouldn't hurt over death.”

(After a long rant about hating to run late) Stine delves into how painful death is both the fear of our own death, and the pain of losing a loved one. Even as Christians, or knowing that the one we lose is in Heaven is not enough to take away the pain and fear of death, because death is an unnatural state.

I thought this point that God experiences something far more painful by allowing us to choose Hell if we want, because He refuses to force us into an inauthentic relationship with Himself, was interesting.

3. “Drinking and smoking are sins.”

I think this is where I started agreeing with what Stine is saying, without accepting his implementation of that belief. I do agree that we cannot call these things sins, but I also know that they are very dangerous things to play with and are often times better off left alone.

4. “There are some places too sinful for a Christian to go.”

This chapter took me aback at first. Stine’s main illustration is about a man who goes to strip clubs to witness. While I completely agree that God calls some Christians into this ministry, I also know that a man witnessing in a place that will put him in direct temptations, needs to not only “walk close to God”, but be completely engulfed in Him. He might also want to me single.

God will give this person a very unique set of talents and abilities, and he better not screw up.

5. “Christians in the entertainment industry cannot act, sing, or perform anything that doesn't have a Christian message.”

I had a role as a sorcerer in a high school play. My parents pulled my out of it once they realized this, which eventually led to the break up of our entire home school group.

Looking back, I remember a concept I was taught in drama. Some things you can act out, and they are just acting. (I can steal in a play without really stealing) There are other things that, if I do them in the play, I am really doing them. (Kissing, taking off clothes) I felt that this was an important distinction to make.

This chapter was about how we have set up entertainers as gods, and how difficult it is to be a Christian in the entertainment world. Difficult, not impossible. It explored whether or not it is wrong for a Christian to play an unbeliever in a role. Interesting point, but I didn’t think it was a vital topic to address.

6. “All Christians will be offended by the same things.”

Say what you mean, in the easiest way to understand, even if the language you use is coarse. Here is where I disagree with Stine. He believes that it isn’t how we say what we say that matters, but what we mean. I think the way we say things is important, even the actual words we use. I believe this because, "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.”

If there are words that would be offensive to people, I think we should avoid using them. With all the words in the English languages, I think there is probably an alternative to every word.

7. “All Christians have the same conclusions about Christian behavior.”

This is about judging people by where they are now, and their current actions. I do see how we have to be careful when we are assuming motives for people’s actions. Because, like Stine says, it is where God is taking us that is the important thing.

8. “Sinners are worse people than I am.”

I think this is a very important and convicting concept.

“What every homosexual, unruly teenager, anti-Christian bigot, and amoral ideologue needs is exactly what I need – to know that my life has meaning, to know that someone somewhere will love me, to believe that I am significant to somebody… (God) doesn’t love me more than He loves you, He can’t… I don’t get a superior place in His kingdom, only an equal one with the rest of the unworthy.”

9. “Once you are saved, you'll never doubt.”

Without doubt, we cannot exercise faith. This chapter actually addresses a lot of atheistic beliefs and struck a cord with me. I dealt with a lot of these ideas when I lived with an atheist family. I guess the idea of faith is unacceptable, if your faith is in God, and not in scientific theory.

10. “Christians should never admit that they struggle with temptation.”

Good point. Let’s be open and show our faults and temptations to unbelievers, so that they can really know what a relationship with God is all about. Because it is real, and God is real with us.

I guess the main point of this book is about being real and transparent. Not letting traditions keep you from building relationships with unbelievers. I liked it a lot, it was challenging and helped me not to feel like a heretic for some of the similar things that I have been criticized for believing.


Carlton said...

As Bobby stood in his footed pajamas at the top of the stairs he could see the specter of the judgmental Christian floating around the living room. Looking for someone to judge, no doubt. He tried to scream for his parents but his throat felt like it was stuffed full of cotton balls. But some sound must have escaped, because the wraith was suddenly racing up the stairs right towards him!
- Brad R. L. Stine

Elizabeth said...

Haha. That is hilarious.

Nihil Novum said...

Oh, wow. That's a surprising convincing reproduction.

Christopher said...

He felt a clammy hand on his shoulder. The televangelist had him in his ghostly grip!


But actually it was his Mom.

Elizabeth said...

And then he woke up.

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