Posts tagged 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

Dear Christian, Don’t Be A ‘Christian’

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*Below is an excerpt from my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith. I thought this would be good due to my involvement with Stand Together Fest last weekend and I talk about my band Strongarm

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I was in a band called Strongarm. Psalm 89 in the Bible inspired the name. It talks about God delivering his people with his strong arm. Our name also had a double meaning as an indirect reference to Jesus. But mainly I picked it because it sounded tough.

Musically, we called ourselves hardcore. The style fell somewhere between metal and punk rock. Like punk, it was outspoken and raw. Like metal, it was heavy and a little more polished. Either way, if you heard Strongarm, you’d probably wonder what the heck we were saying and why we were so mad. The style was passionate, aggressive, and cleansing. I loved it. I still do.

I was the lead singer, but I can’t really sing. So I was the screamer. I also wrote the lyrics. In fact, I wrote 15 of the 19 songs that are out there. But who’s counting? And I ran most of our business affairs. By the time I quit, we’d recorded a full-length album, released a few singles on seven-inch vinyl records, shot a music video, and done several small tours. There’s still a bunch of our merchandise floating around online auctions, if you’re interested.

I learned a lot in the band. Overall, it was a great experience. Though I quit in 1996, I still get a few emails a month from avid fans. I’m always complimented and honored by their well wishes.

When our first album, Atonement, came out, we did something out of character. We did a tour of Christian venues. The opportunity came up, so we took it for the quick exposure to support the record. There were a lot of memories, like the last show of the tour when we stood around and shared how much we hated each other before going on stage. Did I mention we were all Christians?

We brought along a friend named Tom. He volunteered to be our roadie, helping us with extra muscle. This gave him an opportunity to travel the country for free. He didn’t believe what we believed, but he was an amazing guy. We really liked him, and he liked our band. We also hoped the experience might have a positive influence on him. It influenced him all right.

One show in particular stands out. It was in Memphis. We arrived and were greeted by the promoter, who told us he’d received a call from our previous stop. They called to advise him that we weren’t “Christian” enough. They recommended he cancel the show.

You see, our friend Tom had an underground magazine (called a zine). He hoped to promote it and make contacts on the tour. There was some slightly coarse language in it, but it wasn’t a huge deal to us. It really wasn’t any worse than what is on primetime television. We just asked him to hand it out on his own time and not from behind our merchandise table.

Anyway, a parent got hold of one of the zines and went ballistic. So, we were horrified when we arrived in Memphis to accusations that our band promoted filth and pornography. At the time, we felt the parent’s reaction was unwarranted. Tom felt terrible about jeopardizing our tour. We felt bad for him. But something even worse had happened.

This hit Tom hard. He just wasn’t the same after that. He learned something about Christians. He learned to hate them. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, because there always seems to be some type of fallout when they’re around. The deeper issue was that Tom, like many, decided to stay away from Jesus. I don’t know where Tom is today, but in the grand scheme of things, I wonder if it would have been better if he hadn’t toured with us.

Nothing has discouraged me more in my desire to follow Jesus and know God than my observations of those who call themselves “Christians.” They make it so easy to hate them. They can be crazy, annoying, judgmental, and hypocritical.

Even worse, I regret that each of those words also represents me personally, to some degree.

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What It Means To Be A Christian & What Andy Stanley Left Out About Anne Rice At Church

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So yesterday Andy Stanley preached an amazing sermon at North Point Church (as usual). He is doing a series called “Christian” and what that term means. My wife is convinced Andy read my book because some points sound so similar. I even have a chapter called “Christians” in which I challenge the Christians to not call themselves a Christian for a short season. You can read excerpts in my post called “Lose Your Religion, Christian.” I assured my wife I probably stole my ideas from Andy or someone else.

In any event, yesterday (Part 2), as an illustration Andy spoke about the famed vampire novelist Anne Rice becoming a ‘Christian’ and then leaving ‘Christianity.’ Clarifying, Andy highlighted what Rice wrote:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

-and-

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me…But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Who could disagree? Being a Christian is different than being a follower, or disciple, of Christ. Rice is correct.

>But Andy Stanley left something out about Anne Rice in his sermon.

What? Yup.

Rice’s comments are nearly 2 years old and, subsequently, the core illustration is incomplete. Rice has since gone a step further.

Anne Rice is no longer even a follower of Christ as defined in the Bible. In a recent interview regarding her new book The Wolf Gift Rice admitted:

“Everyday, I’m asking myself that, because my faith in the Christian belief system totally collapsed. I realized a lot of what I believed about Jesus was rooted in lies and falsehoods. What I’ve tried to preserve is a love for and a trust in God. Jesus coming here is the most beautiful love story I’ve ever heard.

I know I feel a palpable God — with a human face. I can’t really tell another person what I believe that is. I believe that there is a maker of the universe that knows every hair on our head — and has made this entire universe and is very aware of us and I hope and pray this maker of the universe loves us and — and I think he does.”

She says she remains “committed to Christ.” While I respect her views I’m not sure what that means anymore. It sounds a bit more like the Christ consciousness that New Agers speak of. This all-roads-lead-to-heaven spiritual vanilla is not what Jesus lived, spoke of, or died for. Jesus spoke of following Him and a narrow path (or road), but I guess if you don’t believe the Bible anymore, it is irrelevant.

Although I would not judge Rice’s heart, based on her comments, I question if she is still a follower, or disciple, of Christ. No, that is not essential to the sermon illustration, but it is some information that is important to know.

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Horror, Heroes, & Hell

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This weekend I saw a dark comedy slasher flick and it got me thinking about Hell. (Incidentally, it was called Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and it was hilarious. I think it is destined to become a cult classic in line with the Army of Darkness. Be warned: It’s got plenty of blood and guts mixed in with the humor.)

Anyway, I started wondering why I like horror flicks so much. Am I I really messed up? Am I facing the very limits of gore and fear thereby proving my manhood–like some American Indian right of passage?

>Horror films are primal, with little pretense, and they quickly get to the point of illuminating true character.

I’m no expert, but I think every successful horror film has a singular purpose, and it’s not to be gross. The grossness simply helps accomplish the goal.

Any horror movie worth its weight in screams and gore uses the monster to reveal what’s truly lurking within. As the characters feel trapped and isolated with no apparent way out, the impending doom exposes their true qualities. Sometimes self-serving characters transform into sacrificing heroes. Or characters you like at first end up leaving everyone behind to save themselves. The monster without reveals the monster—or the savior—within.

That’s why I love them. The evil is easily identifiable.

>And I think the evil portrayed in horror movies perfectly matches what hell is to Christianity. The idea of hell reveals a lot about the Christian faith and those who believe in it.

It’s no secret that hell is probably the most uncomfortable aspect of the Christian faith. For many years I was content to ignore it and simply think, Everyone goes to heaven. When that stopped making sense—in light of the evident evil in this world—my conclusion evolved into this: Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell. But that started to break down, too, as I realized that “good” is measured on a sliding scale, and everyone has a different standard. Some twisted minds even view obvious evil actions as good.

I realized I had to do some more investigating of this idea of hell, though I wondered what good could come from it. To say that I hate hell, and that I especially hate talking about it, is a huge understatement. But if I’m going to find the true value in the teachings and person of Jesus (and the Bible), I have to deal with this issue.

And so I did. It something we all need to do.

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[Download the rest of my thoughts on Hell from my book for FREE right here]

Rules, Rules, Rules

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I’ve concluded there are two types of people in this world. There are the goody-two-shoes who like rules and take great pride in creating and obeying them. And there are the other people. The ones who like to rebel. The ones who never saw a rule, standard, or principle they didn’t salivate to defy. They like breaking rules.

I hate rules. Like most people, I decide when I want to follow them. I love that autonomy. Most of us do.

>We’re not going to let anyone or anything tell us what to do or how to do it.

I tend to push against rules because I don’t always see their benefits in the moment. But even if I could, it probably wouldn’t matter. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.

And if just one rule gets me edgy, what about dozens?

In my faith, it didn’t take long before I got the impression Christianity was filled with rules.

>Jesus I found compelling, but I started to wonder why someone would ever want to be a Christian with all those rules that seemed to go with the territory.

Rules tend to make me think God doesn’t want me to have any fun. Like he is some sour old man yelling at the neighborhood kids, “Keep it down out there or else!” But we all want to have fun; it makes life worth living. If we can’t enjoy it, what’s the point to life?

It’s impossible to keep up with all the rules.

The solution?

I liked my fun, and rules bring an air of legalism that sap the life and vitality out of anything good. Legalism does that. Figure out which one Christians are making up. Don’t assume they are all in the Bible.

I can’t keep track of all the rules I’ve been told to keep over the years—like no smoking, drinking, cussing, premarital sex, clubbing, or dancing.

But wait, there’s more! If one decides to really get serious about following God, there’s another set of rules for the “truly religious”—like no listening to “secular” music (music that isn’t “Christian”), no watching R-rated movies, no dating, no tattoos, no body piercings.

As far as I can tell, some of these rules are meant to address character issues. They call into question the things that influence you, what you take in, and how it all affects who you are. They also call into question what you choose to do, which is seen as a representation of who you are.

>Determine to discover more about the rules.

So get a Bible and get to work. It’s the only way, as a rule of thumb.

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[portions of this taken from here]

10 Things I Still Hate About The Holidays

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*This is a tongue-in-cheek article I wrote and like to repost every year. It is inspired my my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity and hopefully I will add some levity and focus to this time of year.

The holidays are upon us. I’ve been through enough of them now to know come January 1st I will have a list of things swimming around in my mind. And it’s not a “resolution” kind of list. It’s a “Where did all the fun that I was supposed to have go this holiday?” kind of list. It’s a “I have bunch of regrets mixed in with my fond memories” kind of list.

To preempt the regrets in order to create a reservoir of overwhelmingly positive memories, I have decided to make a list of all the things I hate about the holidays to bring out what is (or should be) most important to me. And I think we can all see ourselves somewhere in this list. So I hope it helps with your holiday celebration whatever it may be—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Ramadan, or Festivus (for the rest of us). Plus, I hope it might add a little levity and bring some focus to this busy time. Sometimes it helps to have a sense of humor.

10. Decorating. I hate all the time it takes to decorate. Now, let me be clear, I love decorations and things being decorated. I just don’t like doing it! The untangling of lights, finding hooks for each ornament, finding the one bulb in a string of 50 that is keeping the whole string dead, and pretending like I am having so much fun for the kids sake is all very frustrating. A few years ago, we even resorted to having an artificial Christmas tree. As much as I hate it and vowed to NEVER sink to such a low, it’s so much better (and easier)— less mess, less money, no maintenance. I even keep it stored, fully assembled in the basement. So I literally have the tree up in ten minutes when it’s time to get started. We also light a pine tree scented candle so our visitors think it’s real. But the kids like all the hoopla and that’s enough for me. Plus, I do love putting the train around the tree. That’s pretty awesome, although our 9 month old seems to be deathly afraid of it. Not sure what to do about that one.

9. Shopping. UGH! I’m not a good gift giver or receiver. My wife, Lisa, does the shopping for the gifts for the kids. That is VERY good! I do love that. Sure, we talk about what to get, but she does all the work in the end. The problem is, I always wait until the last minute when shopping for her. Yes, I know it’s a man-cliché. It’s just how it happens. Thank God stores are open Christmas Eve! For me, there is nothing worse than going to the mall during the holidays. You just can’t get everything on-line. Some people get recharged emotionally shopping at the mall (like my wife). I just get suicidal. I’m also not good at telling others what I want. That doesn’t make it easy for others to shop for me. It’s not that I don’t want stuff. I just hate telling people what I want. Plus, everything has a dollar value to me nowadays, so I think about how much we’re spending constantly. Besides, I like life simple. I like relaxing, going to the movies, and eating. It’s not like you can put a rib-eye in the stocking, right? Plus, the things I really do want are just too much money (a remodeled house, new truck, 1,000,000 copies of my book to be sold etc. are some things that come to mind). I even had someone email me their total after Christmas shopping. It was $666.66. They had to tell me. Hilarious! That’ll make you think your Christmas shopping isn’t quite right.

8. Fighting. Don’t lie, we all have several snippy moments during the most wonderful time of the year. And yes, some of us even argue. We might even yell at the kids a little. It’s hard, stressful, and tense trying to have so much fun and make something so special. We want it all to be so perfect and that can set us off quite easily. Tempers flare during what is supposed to be a very satisfying and relaxing season with the family. You may also be tense from the traveling to visit family. Now throw all the other things on my list in and you have a recipe for disaster.

7. Fat. Not you, but me. We all gain a little around the holidays and it’s not usually character, patience, or anything useful like that. It’s weight. Overeat? That doesn’t mean anything to me this time of year. Full? What does that have to do with anything? Eating is a state-of-mind for me. You have to be disciplined and really apply yourself if you want to do it properly. Portion and rationing are the smart thing to do. But since when is smart fun when it comes to food? Turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, honey-baked ham, rib-roast, sweet potatoes, apple pie. Yes please! Anyone hungry yet?

6. Montezuma’s Revenge. If you don’t get that reference, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it from eating so much food. Tums and Pepto-Bismal will help. That’s right, I said it. Fried this and saturated that starts to catch up. For me, there’s no way around it because I refuse to eat responsibly during the holidays. That just wouldn’t be any fun now would it! As a matter of fact, I am a handyman by day and I’ve even put Tums in the first-aid kit for just such an emergency.

5. Holiday Blues. I hate the fact that the holiday mindset doesn’t set in until it is all nearly over. I think if I could take off work from Halloween until News Years Day, it might get me in the right holiday mindset sooner and keep me there longer. Sounds good, right? You’d have time to get the stressful ‘to-do’ items done, relax, and know there is even enough time to recoup. But mostly we’re working and shopping right until the last minute, so the holiday feeling doesn’t set in because we haven’t been still or relaxed enough to ‘detox’ from the regular routine of life. I usually hit the ground running during holidays. What’s worse is, once I realize the relaxing euphoria has finally set in, it is followed by the thought that the holiday season will be over in a day or two.

4. Political Correctness. This is a relatively recent development. Over the past five or so years there have been some ridiculous things happening surrounding the holidays. From public school teachers being threatened with formal reprimands for saying Merry Christmas, to Christmas trees being removed from public grounds because they have a religious meaning. And if the trees aren’t removed, they are simply called ‘Holiday Trees’ in order to be more inclusive. The funny thing is, Christmas trees are actually a pagan practice that Christians adopted. That’s the problem with political correctness gone wild. You forget who you are and what it’s really about. So Happy Ramanahanakwanzmas? NO! Merry Christmas! I wish you all the best. But that’s how we role around here.

3. Spenders Remorse. In order for it to feel like a holiday, I spend freely. This is because in our everyday lives we have to be budget conscious. I hate the feeling like I am spending too much, but at the same time, I ignore it so it will still feel like a holiday. This only compounds the issue. We always go over budget. Not sure how not to do that one.

2. Santa. I don’t hate Santa, but hate the issue of Santa within our family. Why? Because most of us who’ve grown-up in America were told there’s Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, God, and Jesus. We teach kids they’re all real, but they’re not all real. Eventually our kids will be okay with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy being cute little white lies, while accepting Jesus and God as completely legit—right? Not really. At least I don’t think so, and it’s something I talk about in my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith. This is something that my wife and I have spoken about in depth. Will we tell our kids about Santa? Will Santa be the one who gives them their gifts? It’s funny how many atheists(and some agnostics) have railed me over the years for teaching my kids about Jesus and God—something that can’t be proven. You know, they want to wait to introduce ideas of faith and religion when their kids are old enough to decide for themselves. Sounds so intellectual and enlightened, right? But these people have had no problem telling their kids about a fat guy sliding down the chimney with a sack full of gifts and eating the cookies and milk, his elves, flying reindeer, and somehow doing this at midnight in every home all around the world. What’s with that? Do I have a problem with the story of Santa? Not at all. We’re not Grinches. We tell our kids the story of the real Saint Nicholas. But we’ve decided that’s where it stops. Sorry Santa. No cookies for you at the Berggren home.

1. Forgetting. I suppose #2 really leads to this one. I don’t know what it is all about for you (the holidays, that is). But for me it’s supposed to be about the birth of Jesus— you know, the most influential person in history. I hate that all of the above stuff on my list tends to get in the way of what these times are supposed to be about. I have to tell myself more than once during the holidays, “It’s all about Jesus, stupid!” I don’t want to forget to remember what my priorities are supposed to be. Whatever you believe in, I hope you’ll add value to yourself and those around you by relaxing, spending time with loved ones, and celebrating. That’s the #1 thing. It’s what the holidays are supposed to be all about. And I love that.

Lastly…MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Faith, Doubt, and Truth

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In light of the very interesting Atheist 10 Commandments by Pen Jillette, the taller half of the noted magic duo Pen and Teller, that I posted about, I wanted to talk about faith, belief, and doubt.

>For me, faith isn’t about fantasy, as many atheists hold. No. It’s about possibility and potential in light of the unknown.  

We all rely on a set of beliefs or core values, not necessarily religious in nature, that guide us at unsure times. Perhaps people seek the advice of good friends, parents or grandparents, take a class, or read a book. The resulting beliefs and values they develop aren’t visible, but people trust in them.

So isn’t it true that we all look at the situations we’re facing, consider what we believe, and then leap?

This functions much like faith. For the most part, we’re all trusting in things we can’t see—a type of faith, to some degree.

>Don’t get me wrong, I still doubt from time to time. But I think it’s normal to doubt.

In fact, I don’t even view doubt as the opposite of faith. Some think it is, but that’s unfair. In the same way that caution isn’t always the opposite of risk, or fear isn’t the opposite of courage, doubt is not the opposite of faith. They can be present at the same time. There’s always a measure of caution when balancing a risky decision. There’s also a sense of fear to sober us as we advance in a courageous endeavor. And there’s always a sense of doubt that tests and purifies my faith as I step forward with it. I just believe what Jesus said is true.

>To me, faith is the unknown revealed and explained.

Having faith may seem irrational to you—and I assure you, it is. With faith it’s strangely possible to acknowledge the unexplained, face it, embrace it, and move forward. It’s not a mindless devotion to antiquated ideas or benevolent ideals, but a calculated conclusion in the light of present reality: there’s more unknown than known. It’s a coming to terms with the mystery of life. It’s the strength to keep a conviction when surrounded by questions. It’s discovering twenty variables and one truth, then holding to that truth regardless of the present ambiguities. It can go against better judgment and modern thought, while being the wiser approach.

Faith is a gift.

Faith captures my imagination.

Faith pushes my potential.

Faith inspires dreams of possibility.

Faith explains foundational questions of the unknown.

And yes, faith is the basis of very healthy and productive of divergent thinking, rather than being conformed to convention and reason. Because whether it’s science or faith, we all have to suspend our limitations in order to test, consider, and discover what is true.

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[portions of this taken from here]

Can You Hear Me Now, God?

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Everybody knows long distance relationships (LDRs) usually don’t work. The love interest you had in the Niagara Falls area probably isn’t the person you married and had kids with. The odds are stacked against it. I’ve met a few couples that started out as LDRs and managed to finish well together, but it’s rare.

>I find trying to build closeness with God through prayer is ten times worse than any other LDR.

It’s an LDR that spans not only the world, not just the universe, but even different dimensions. I mean, who exactly am I talking to? Where is he?

Ground control to Major God! Do you hear me? I sure don’t hear you.

Now I’ve met people who claim they “hear from God” all the time. And I’ve tried to get away from them quickly. Those words always seem to be the precursor to an individual’s evolution into a serial killer. Those words are just foreign to me.

>If I’m going to honest, often when I pray, my words seem to evaporate and hit the ceiling.

You may be thinking, “Did he just say that?” Oh yes he did.

I pour out my heart in hopes of feeling a touch or getting some interaction with God, but it seems he doesn’t answer. And I hate being left hanging and all alone. I never hear his comforting voice. God’s door is closed, and I just want some face-to-face time. It’s kind of a tease—a cosmic one. It’s not what I expected when it comes to talking to God.

>I think most people probably feel this distance at some point, yet they continue praying.

Even the hard-line atheist calls on God before rear-ending the car in front of him at full speed: “Oh God, help!” It’s funny—everyone prays. I think everyone feels like it’s a good habit with some therapeutic benefit.

But still we wonder: does it work, or is it pointless? 

I think it does, but there’s a lot to understand and wade through along the way.

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[Read more here]

Lose Your Religion Christian

Lose Your Religion, Christian

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I have an exercise for those that call themselves Christians (that’s me too). It won’t be easy. But it’s exactly the kind of thing we need these days, since the term has lost some meaning as you look across the landscape of our culture.

Christians, I challenge you to: Resist the urge to be yourselves.

More specifically, I challenge you to peel away the term “Christian” from your mind and remove it from your vocabulary. That’s right, ban it from your mind.

What! Why?

Stay with me…even take it up a notch from there.

Allow yourself to speak about your faith only when you’re asked about it. Now, I know Jesus has called us to have an influence on the culture around us, but can we do that without trying to ‘convert’ people with conversations we control? It seems impossible, but I think it can be done. In fact, it’s an echo of what the early church did after the death of Jesus. It’s as if they took to heart His words when he said to them, “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” -John 13:35

Remember, the challenge is that you can’t initiate conversations about God or the like. So if no one’s asking why you’re different, you probably have some work to do on yourself.

Your actions and attitude will have to be the catalysts. But when people do ask about how you handle anger, stress, hardships, failures, successes, leadership, authority, and submission, you’ll have your chance to talk. When they wonder why you’re so forgiving and patient, why you won’t compromise, why you remain respectful, why you always have time to talk, why you always have time to just listen—you’ll have the opportunity to explain.

And since you can’t use the term “Christian,” you’ll have to creatively explain what’s going on in your life—and why. You’ll have to find different ways to describe it. It may take some thought, but you can do it.

And if people happen to say, “Oh, you mean you’re a Christian,” that’s fine. Don’t make a scene. Just go with it. It’s accurate. If they ask why you didn’t just say that before, be honest. Tell them you’re trying to redefine the term in your own life because of the bad reputation so many Christians have given Jesus and God.

This challenge will be difficult, but I believe it will work. And I’m willing to bet something revolutionary can happen, both in you and those around you.

If you really want to influence others in the name of Jesus these days, it will take desperate measures. You’ll have to redefine yourself.

So I challenge you to remove the term ‘Christian’ to describe yourself for a season, while still fulfilling The Great Commission (as it’s called). Do it for more than a week. Make it hard; do it for three months. That’s a good test. Even mark it on your calendar as a reminder.

Lose your religion, Christian.

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[portions of this post taken from here]

VIDEO: Blue Like Jazz Movie Trailer

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Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller is a book I read several years ago. I loved it–but it made me mad. Real mad. Why? Because at the time I was outlining notes my own book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity and he said many things I wanted to say. So it was back to the drawing board to figure out what I needed to change or what I felt still needed to be said. Anyway, the book has been made into a movie. Here is the trailer. It looks low-budget in an indie sort of way. Although I generally despise ‘Christian’ movies, this looks 1/4 decent. I’ll see it one day and review it. Here is the trailer:

The Dilemma And Confusion Of Forgiveness

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Following Jesus is all about understanding and exercising forgiveness. But, to be honest, forgiveness kind of confuses me.

First, it’s not a one-time thing. It has to be a mindset. It has to be a predetermined approach to relationships. It’s as if we say from the beginning, “I know I’ll be hurt or even wronged in the pursuit of this relationship, since you are imperfect and may not meet my standards or expectations. So I plan on having to be a forgiving person if this is going to work at all.”

Also, it’s as if complete forgiveness is a two-part process—like a two-way street. It involves both the person who asks for it and the person who grants it. Sometimes you may ask and not get it; sometimes you may grant it even though you haven’t been asked.

Forgiveness repairs the damage created by the messiness of life. Forgiving means loving someone completely, regardless of flaws, regardless of wrongs. Incidentally, forgiveness like this is what Jesus did for our relationship with our Creator, to reconnect us with him. There’s nothing more loving or more Godlike than to forgive.

Forgiveness is love’s highest level. It’s also the most difficult, especially when someone has really hurt you.

But to forgive is divine. Our world today can always use a little of that. Will you be divine?

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[portions of this taken from here]

Love Wins, Christianity Loses, and God Lies – A Review of Rob Bell’s Book

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Love Wins is “A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” by Rob Bell. This is important stuff for sure, which is why I tackle it in my book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, as well. So I come to this review with some knowledge on the subject. If you’re interested on a comparison you can download my chapter on Hell here for free.

In a way, Rob has been part of my life for eight years. I have read nearly all of his books, used several of his NOOMA videos as a basis for small group discussions, and listened to hundreds of his teachings (last week I explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story altogether). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is hard not to. That is why this review is so difficult.

That being said, let me begin by stating what I agree with in Love Wins:

• God is love and more generous than we can comprehend
• People we don’t expect to see in Heaven will be there
• People we expect to be in Hell may not be there
• We are commissioned to bring healing to this earth with our lives
• Our eternal destiny will ultimately be of our own choosing, either Heaven or Hell
• God is displeased with misrepresentations of his character and nature by his alleged followers
• Yes, is his fairness, God will allow children, the mentally challenged, and the Pygmy in Africa (or anyone else) who has not had the chance to decide on Jesus into Heaven

Beyond that, Love Wins is ambiguous, dangerous, and angry.

I wanted to like Love Wins. I really wanted to like it. But I didn’t. That doesn’t mean Love Wins is poorly written, dull, or unoriginal. On the contrary! In true Bell fashion, it is passionate, deep, and relevant. But if a movie has forced acting, a half-baked story, yet manages to come through with stellar special affects, it is still a bad movie. With all the perfect expressions, appealing conversational tones, and deep passion, Love Wins left me confused and frustrated—to such a degree, in fact, I still cannot determine what the book is truly about. Other than ‘talking’ about this stuff, I cannot figure out what the overall point is.

Love Wins is purposely ambiguous. It poses many questions and answers very few. While Bell loves to try to emulate Jesus by answering questions with questions, he misses one BIG thing: an answer always came when Jesus was around. Jesus simply posed questions that invoked a pre-existing answer in the heart of the individual. Jesus also had another approach; he would enter the temple and teach from the Scriptures, explaining and answering in great detail.

Jesus wasn’t at all ambiguous on the essentials, nor evasive; he was not ‘hard to pin down.’ Jesus provided clarity at a time, and to subjects, that desperately needed it. So much so that we are still talking about his answers 2,000 years later. It’s very fashionable to pose questions, remain distant, and commit to nothing. To most, it sounds enlightened (and keeps everyone liking you), but it’s also insincere and elusive.

Love Wins is dangerous because its use and explanation of Scripture is manipulative. Sure, if a person has a pulse, then that person has a bias. We are all prone to interpret the Bible through whatever lens or worldview we have. But when a bias becomes an agenda, or even activism, with regard to Scripture, it can become very dangerous.

For example, Bell does not seem to believe in a Hell with flames of any sort or at any level, as most of traditional Christianity has held for the last 2,000 years. He believes it will be either a state (or condition) we create through our actions and choices or just a separation from God. (I elaborate on all three in great detail in the chapter on Hell in my book.)

So while explaining the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as told by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31, Bell deals a fatal blow to the meaning of it. His assessment? This is not really a parable about Hell and the afterlife. It’s about the Rich Man holding on to his pride, status, and cultural hierarchy, because, even in his torment, he wants Lazarus, the beggar, to ‘serve’ him. For some reason, the Rich Man begging for a cool drop of water on his tongue because he “is in agony in this fire” or his plea for a special warning to his family about the potential torment in the afterlife goes completely ignored by Bell. Sure, pride can be an application of this story, but it is not the thrust. It merely serves to accentuate the seriousness of the afterlife, since the Rich (Jewish) Man is in the torments of Hell, while the (Gentile) beggar is in Heaven. It is clearly a warning about Hell and the afterlife.

Bell appears to courageously jump to the end of Revelation, since it cannot be ignored when talking about Hell. He elaborates on all the great descriptions of Heaven and healing and being reconciled with God—we all love this stuff. Unfortunately, he conveniently ignores the whole “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15)

Woops!

There is more, but Love Wins tumbles like a house of cards on these two areas of Scripture alone. What exactly are we being saved from then? Just our bad habits and attitudes? Bell enjoys blasting the reader with an assault of seemingly contradictory verses. Then, while the reader is dazed, confused, and off-guard, he seizes the emotional moment to introduce a controversial view. It leaves the person feeling like, “Of course this must be true…I must be an idiot if I don’t agree with it.” The Bible is filled with apparent contradictions, if you are willing to bastardize and ignore context. It is a manipulative and condescending tactic to use, since it attempts to trick the reader into agreement.

Love Wins is angry because it has all the makings of an immature, rebellious teenager trying to teach his overbearing old-fashioned parents a lesson about the new ways of the world. First and foremost, if you (or any Christian) believe that Jesus is absolutely essential to salvation or in a literal Hell with flames, Rob would like you to know that you are helping perpetuate a ‘strain’ of Christianity that is destructive, violent, toxic, venomous, and abusive. Got it?

While Bell presents himself as very magnanimous in interviews and graciously expresses that he has no desire to call out or criticize his detractors, he has done far more in this book. Bell uses fighting words throughout. If believing 1) the name of Jesus is essential and 2) there is a literal Hell with flames, makes me a fundamentalist, pre-modern, unenlightened, barbaric, blind, villainous, and idiotic, then so be it—although I would dispute the charges. Sound at all passive aggressive? It is. I know because I ‘are’ one.

So apparently all you crotchety, outdated, grandpa-like Christians need to realize (or else!):

• When God says He will reconcile all creation to Himself, He means everyone can get into Heaven regardless of your belief in Jesus
• God will let people decide to accept Jesus even after death, if necessary He will take as long as needed to convince them to come in
• You’re making people think Jesus came to rescue us from God, whom you seem to think is hot-tempered, switches modes, and is inconsistent
• While there needs to be room in Christianity for a wide range of opinions and views, there just isn’t room for your finite views on Hell, sin, or salvation
• Don’t worry about confessing the name of Jesus to be saved, just make sure you are living His story out in your own life
• There is a vein of God’s story in every culture, so whatever that plan of salvation is, it is perfectly acceptable to God and don’t judge them either
• Jesus died on the cross because that’s what they needed and understood back then, and that wouldn’t need to happen today since we’re, like, way more smarter than that
• Being ‘spiritual’ is probably enough for God, so don’t worry so much about being Biblical
• The Hippies had it right because it is actually possible to meet Jesus through smoking pot
• If Jesus and Christianity have put a bad taste in someone’s mouth, God doesn’t necessarily need them to follow Him because wherever they find truth is fine with Him

It’s funny, I commented on the last idea in my book a couple of years ago:

Since discussing God and Jesus can so often be divisive, why not create a new secular humanist faith that avoids all that? One that’s totally dedicated to promoting good deeds and good will among all. This would probably be more readily accepted. Coexistence and harmony between all creation—man, animals, and environment—would create universal peace and a heavenly state. Who could argue with that? This less offensive, more congenial religion would probably have more impact on society and culture as a whole. All we have to do is leave God and Jesus out of the equation. No biggie.

I guess my overall problem is that I read Love Wins in the context of Rob Bell being a pastor, not a writer. One of the primary roles of a pastor is to bring clarity, predictability, and truth whenever possible. But I suppose this isn’t really feasible if you believe all truth contains a vein of the truth and is therefore equally true. This explains the evasiveness and confusion. I do not believe Bell to be willfully deceptive, but I do believe he is still knowingly guarded in his opinions. He should simply be more honest, rather than opting for the creative guise of cool and distant. You just can’t have it both ways—or should I say all ways.

Bell admittedly likes to interpret Scripture as pliable and versatile (his words) if at all possible. This takes particular shape if a Scripture is especially uncomfortable. In doing so, he unavoidably opts for the guilt-free feel-good trappings of moral relativism and philosophical pluralism. I wish I could do the same. I wish it were all true and this easy. But in his framework, the Hebrew story of God and the Christian experience with God is of no affect and no importance, since following Jesus specifically or confessing his name is not totally essential. In fact, why should I even follow Jesus if everyone gets a pass in the end? Because he was really nice or said neat stuff? So what. So did a lot of historical figures. Why not live a life if debauchery and hedonism? Basically, it doesn’t really matter, right?

These thoughts fill me with great sadness. Why? Because based on what Bell says, God cannot hold us to his own standard, since He will not hold Himself to His own words.

I can make no other conclusions, according to what Rob has presented, than:

1. Love doesn’t win because there is no true choice and subsequent consequence (and this is what the nature of love is built on).
2. Christianity loses the very punch line of the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’, since Jesus is not essential to the story.
3. God is a liar because he has called us to righteousness (and to follow Jesus) while rewarding apathy.

I am left wondering, what the heck is Christianity, what does it mean to be a Christian, and does that even matter? How does love win? Love should win because God sent his son to be a substitutionary atonement for our sins and to save us from them and Hell: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). That is the extent of His love. Nowhere does Bell make that abundantly clear. To me, that is the real story behind Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person whoever lived.

I love Rob, but I hate Love Wins.

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VIDEO: Rob Bell Cold On Hell

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Rob Bell. That’s a name that engenders all kids of emotions. He is in the news lately because of his new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person That Ever Lived.

I first heard of Rob Bell in 2003 when I heard a session of his from Catalyst Conference on cd. He was famous for starting a church by teaching through the book of Leviticus. Although this seemed like a bad idea (Leviticus is notoriously boring), the church exploded.

His session at Catalyst was so moving, which made sense of it all. Something about what Rob said changed me forever. And from then on I made sure to never miss a message. I listened to him teach every week via his church’s website. He had a way of teaching that was deep, passionate, and relevant to my life. I still have hundreds of his teachings in my computer. In addition, I consumed his supplemental resources NOOMA. Week after week I received from the well of Rob Bell.

Until July 29, 2007.

That was the moment he really jumped the shark. The series was “God Is Green“. I listened to this series four times to make sure I was hearing what I was hearing, because I knew this might mean a departure for me. I suspected I could no longer support or recommend Rob, so I wanted to be sure of what I was hearing.

This was a series about creation and the environment. Now, I’m all for being responsible and taking care of God’s creation. But there is a fine line. I don’t worship it. I am not subservient to it. I worship the Creator, not creation. That is a form of idolatry, as the Bible might say. And I felt God is Green crossed that line.

Yes, I believe the environment is important. After all, I live in it. But I felt Bell elevated it to a status that it was not meant to have:

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles… They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. -Romans 1:22,23,25

Bell went so far as to say that disrespect for the environment was a sanctity of life issue. That went too far. Sure, we all love the family pet, but Spike isn’t on the same level as my children. The sanctity of life is a concept that has it’s origins in Christianity. Specifically, it refers to humans because of their obvious difference from the rest of creation–we have souls. We are God’s crowning achievement. That’s what this term refers to.

Up to then, I had begun to sense a drift in Bell’s teachings over the course of a year or so. There was something evasive. It was as if he wasn’t saying some things he really thought regarding some foundational Christian doctrines–namely, Hell, sin, the nature of the death of Jesus, among other things–and some others were becoming questionalable (like in “God is Green”). There seemed to be a faint pluralism creeping in. And “God Is Green” is where I drew the line. In fact, I indirectly reference some of his themes in my own book (the problem of exclusivity, Hell, and sin)  entitled 10 Thing I Hate About Christianity. Of course, these deserve exploration.

But I never listened to another Rob Bell message again.

Now, I kept up with all his books. He’s still a great communicator. I just couldn’t listen to him teach his church Sunday morning representing the office of pastor, so to speak. It may sound strange, but it was a line I had to draw.

So now Rob has a new book called Love Wins. It’s safe to say, my suspicions were right. It is creating quite some waves across the face of Christendom. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s good to challenge the process and question the status quo, but that doesn’t mean you’re right–or I’m right–or he’s right. I am in the process of reading it and a review is forthcoming (probably next week).

But I wanted to show a video of a recent interview he did on MSNBC with Martin Bashir. What’s interesting is that it seems like Bashir is the Christian here. Yes, oddly enough, he seems to be the one defending traditional Christianity–not Pastor Rob Bell. That was a bit of a surprise. Bell even seems a bit uneasy in the clip. This I understand as I have done nearly 100 interviews for my book (two for ABC News)

The irony is, I suspect that Bell has developed what he believes to be a faith that will crossover. By redefining Hell, sin, and consequence he likely hopes it will appeal to people who are not generally open to Christianity (like the main stream media). But in reality, they are not buying into it (I have seen other interviews that have gone much the same way). It makes even them suspicious.

Here is the clip:

New “10 Things I Hate About Christianity” Book Review

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It’s been 21 months since the release of my first book. Still, reviews are coming in on occasion. Below is a recent review. What I love about this one is that the reader is not a Christian. Incidentally, yes I want to write another book. Yes, I have an idea (several, in fact). But I still haven’t recouped my costs from the first book. Until this happens, everything is in a relative hold position. Anyway, here is the review:

The book title sounds a little scary, but after reading it I discovered that Jason, the author, and I are almost cut from the same cloth. Quite frankly I enjoyed it. Very much. It was kind of like Jason read my mind and put some of my thoughts on paper. I liked his writing style, pretty good for a first attempt at writing his own book. I found it humorous and genuine. It was refreshing to hear some of his struggles are common with mine and my peers. I am not a Christian. Doubt I ever will be. But there are a lot of “Christian” values that happen to be shared by the rest of the world that I do hold dear. Not sure I should refer to them as “Christian” values since they don’t own them, although many act like they do. It does an excellent job expressing the frustration that comes with belonging to a group with many misguided members. Anyway, thought I would pass along a compliment because I think the book deserves one.   -reviewed by John from the Northeast

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Rewind: Thankful For Hate?

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So yesterday I stumbled across this post from another site from this past weekend. It’s a site about books people should be reading. The writer was musing about books she is thankful for. And not just for the year. She is thankful for them in a much broader sense–overall. Here’s a portion:

…Then there’s a set of authors I’m grateful for: Rob Bell, Erwin R. McManus, Steve Brown, Ed Gungor, and Jason T. Berggren. All of these authors write “out-of-the-box” compared to the usual “evangelical Christian” nonfiction. They aren’t afraid to tell it like it really is. And, I’ve appreciated that. It’s really given me hope.

Wow! It is quite an honor to be thrown in with these other authors who write about their faith in such an honest and compelling way. It is much appreciated.

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Book Review: 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

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Here is a review of my book I stumbled upon. Here it is:

Rolling over for the third time, I quieted my alarm and looked up at the ceiling, wishing I didn’t have to go to church. A thought quickly reprimanded by the fact that I was the pastor and had little choice in the matter. Scenarios like this do not make me, or any believer less Christian, only more aware of just how human we are. Being human, and therefore imperfect, is one of the realities Jason T. Berggren explores in his first book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, which he calls an “intersection of real life, simple faith, and raw emotion.”

Hate is defined on the cover of Berggren’s book as a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action. It is a word most people associate with negative thoughts, emotions, and actions. Something Berggren makes plain he is aware of by stating in the first paragraph that he knows “hate is wrong…maybe even a little reckless and rude,” butt hen goes on to tell readers that he used the word because it is what he meant.

After a brief summary of his life and why he decided to write the book, Berggren proceeds to unapologetically detail his pet peeves about Faith, Prayer, The Bible, Sin, Rules, Love, Hell, Answers to Difficult Questions, Church, and Christians. He is brutally honest about his feelings and experiences with each, much to the joy and dismay of Christians, atheists, agnostics and would-be readers.

In researching this book I came across one unhappy blogger who states, “…its title alone is offensive. I consider myself a moderate Democrat who fully supports journalistic freedom. But this kind of peace seeks only to disrespect Christian beliefs without any constructive purpose (whether it be academic, intellectual, or otherwise).” I couldn’t disagree more and believe such a statement could only be made by someone who has not read the book at all, but in the spirit of self-righteousness stopped short of getting past the cover long enough to find one believer’s very fruitful journal of hate, which Berggren states is not “the unguarded, irresponsible, and negative emotion” his father warned him about, “but the inner sense of overwhelming dissatisfaction that can launch a progression toward personal growth.”

Most Christians, if honest with themselves, can identify one point in their lives where they felt as if they didn’t know why they believed as they did, why they decided to live as they do, became angry because God didn’t answer a prayer the way they thought He should have, or felt that He wasn’t present at all. Even if they refuse to acknowledge ever dealing with those emotions, they can at least say they’ve read a passage of scripture that didn’t seem to make sense, felt a little slighted by the world’s seemingly total lack of consciousness of obligation toward morality, or the constant position of defense one takes when trying to prove something exists that no one can see, feel,or touch – not to mention, the sometimes irritating “everything’s going to be all right” position you have to take when everything is going so wrong.

Any mature Christian has come to many of the same conclusions that Berggren has. He states, “It took time, but I learned to come to terms with the realization that faith in Jesus didn’t mean all my problems would go away or be fixed,” a bill of goods many bible-totin’ saints and televangelists will sell in their quest to rescue people from damnation and hell-fire. The truth of the matter is God never promised that everything would be all right all the time. Neither can anyone find a single scripture that says life will be peaches and cream if you only believe in Jesus. On the contrary, it speaks of hardship and persecution following those who take up the cross of Christ, but like Berggren, our faith can bring us clarity and peace even if it doesn’t fix every problem. And most importantly, to those who believe, it is the light to our path, a guide to moral success, and a means of getting through the hardships of this life to eternal life, a privilege and gift Christ died to make available.

What’s more important than the 10 things Berggren hates is the one thing he loves, and that is Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.In the midst of uncertainty and hardship, He is the one we can look to for peace, even when we lack understanding. And when we are having our “top of the world” experiences, He is the one to whom we direct our praise. No matter what side of fate we find ourselves in the moment of existence we call life, Christ is and will be at the center of it all,just as He was that morning when I felt I would rather just be holy at home. Once at service standing in the pulpit, I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing. Noticing that the congregation was looking a little weary, I jokingly stated that I understood and would have preferred to sleep in, and if I weren’t the pastor, I would’ve done just that. As expected, they erupted in laughter, amused and pleasantly surprised by my unrestrained honesty. It wasn’t necessarily my objective to entertain them, but to encourage them by letting them know that even I struggle with the responsibilities of faith. I was just “keeping it real”, a sentiment shared by Berggren, and hopefully appreciated by anyone who reads 10 Things I Hate About Christianity.

For more information about Jason T. Berggren and to purchase this book, please visit his website at www.10thingsihate.com

-by Desimber Rose (source here)

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New Book Review of 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

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Here is a new of my book. What’s interesting is that it is by someone who is not a Christian:

“The book title sounds a little scary, but after reading it I discovered that Jason, the author, and I are almost cut from the same cloth. Quite frankly I enjoyed it. Very much. It was kind of like Jason read my mind and put some of my thoughts on paper. I liked his writing style, pretty good for a first attempt at writing his own book. I found it humorous and genuine. It was refreshing to hear some of his struggles are common with mine and my peers. I am not a Christian. Doubt I ever will be. But there are a lot of “Christian” values that happen to be shared by the rest of the world that I do hold dear. Not sure I should refer to them as “Christian” values since they don’t own them, although many act like they do. It does an excellent job expressing the frustration that comes with belonging to a group with many misguided members. Anyway, thought I would pass along a compliment because I think the book deserves one.”

-reviewed by John from the Northeast

New Review of My Book: 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

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I just received a new review of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith. It appears over at blogcritics.com .

Here it is:

One of the most important things to recognize about author Jason T. Berggren is that he is not a Christianity-hater. There are ten things that this believer dislikes, and maybe it would be more apt to say “ten things he’d like improved.”

In Ten Things I Hate about Christianity – Working through the Frustrations of Faith, Berggren discusses issues he has and shares with many other Christians. Although one of his issues is “Rules,” he doesn’t claim that Christianity should be anarchic. Instead he proposes a kindler, gentler version of the Ten Commandments. Instead of ten don’ts, he offers a guideline comprised of ten things people should do. Some may see this as splitting hairs, but Christians know that Christ had only two commandments — to love God above all other things, and to love everyone (yes, everyone, as in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”).

Berggren does not take a narrow approach to his ten topics, which include faith, prayer, the Bible, sin, rules, love, hell, answers, church, and Christians. What makes Ten Things I Hate about Christianity readable (rather than pedantic) is that he frames each of his chapters (one for each issue) in twenty-first century terms. This means that he is not preaching to true believers (if “true belief” = “blind faith”); he’s questioning along with believers who need answers. And as he explores the questions, he compares our relationship with God to our relationship with others.

By rephrasing doubts and complaints about Christian practices and beliefs, he invites readers to examine those things in relation to their lives. Ten Things I Hate about Christianity is a good book for Christian study and discussion groups. Undoubtedly, some of the discussions may be heated, but sometimes the best way to understand our own views is by comparing them to others’. We often learn that not only is there more than one valid way to look at things, but that our
viewpoint is not the best.

The discussion guide that Berggren has prepared to accompany Ten Things I Hate about Christianity is written with group leaders in mind. Beginning with advice on how to conduct a study of the book, the discussion guide provides leaders and teachers with information on the structure of group meetings, facilitation, and keeping the peace. Following the introductory material, there are again ten chapters on the ten Christianity issues, each comprised of Leader Notes on the topic, and ten questions for discussion. It’s likely that more creative or experienced group leaders will add their own questions and activities to those supplied, but the discussion guide is a fully inclusive course of study if used as written, one that satisfactorily provides enough material to enable most group leaders to conduct a seminar on Ten Things I Hate about Christianity.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-ten-things-i-hate/#ixzz0pay2f4VX

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“Hate” for Good Reason

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I got this email last week from someone who read my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith :

Jason, I just finished your book and have one regret, I didn’t write it!  In many ways, your journey mirrors mine.  I started out with Christ at 18 after chasing my dreams of fast cars and rock-n-roll.  I’m 61 now, married almost 43 years to a beautiful woman I’m not worthy of.  We have been in ministry for 37 years. Ours has not been easy either, and the “hates” you shared in your book once again mirrored mine. I did find something I didn’t agree with (oh well) and one thing I might add: the only reason for ever being passive is over matters of faith – martyrdom (page 131).

Again, many thanks.  I will be sharing your book with other frustrated or perhaps frustrating people.
Al M.
Casper, WY

Review of 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

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A few weeks ago I reviewed One Million Arrows by Julie Ferwerda by Julie Ferwerda. Well, Julie has reviewed my book has reviewed my book. Here it is:

I recently asked Jason Berggren if I could review his book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. You have to admit; the title is enough to make anyone curious. I had no idea what to expect.

10 Things addresses a short list of potentially turn-off issues that seekers or fringers might inwardly battle while exploring the seemingly irrational or unreasonable beliefs of Christianity, such as Bible accuracy and authority, sin, rules, church, and certain behaviors by Christians. The great thing about this book is that the questions Jason approaches are honest questions—questions that Jason wrestled through in his own search of authentic faith. He does an excellent job of blending in his own experiences and honest struggles, while showing the reader his process of working through each “hate.” Jason cleverly helps the reader reconstructs his or her beliefs about God’s character and the Bible, arriving at a reasonable answer and understanding on each point.

One thing I really liked is that Jason did not over-simplify issues in an unbelievable or trite manner, but he addressed many of the issues with candor, expressing honest doubts,personal struggles with sin, and mental battles he faced in over coming his own hates. About one of his sin battles, Jason shares:

“I hesitate to share that detail of my life. It would be easier to write about other people. You know, “my friend” or “someone I once knew.” But that would be insincere. It’s a disgusting part of my life. I think it clearly tells the story of the ugliness that’s waiting for an opportunity to surface in all of us at any time. …And that’s why I tell it.”

In one section, I applaud Jason’s humility in addressing those people reading the book who may have been hurt by the behaviors of certain Christians. Considering the target audience of this book, it is more than appropriate and thoughtful. Here is an excerpt from page 208:

“I’m sorry.

“Whether you are or aren’t a Christian, I apologize on behalf of myself and all other Christians… I’m sorry we may have given you the wrong impression of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I’m sorry we may have given you a wrong expectation of what it means to pursue this faith. …There’s no excuse for bad behavior. Period.

“At times we’ve lied…been insensitive, taken advantage of situations, and  pretended to be holier-than-thou. We’ve been standoffish, not repaid loans, not paid for things we broke, harped on your mistakes while cheating on our own taxes, pretended to care, called you names behind your back, and been argumentative. We’ve thought we’re always right,cut you off in traffic with our Christian stickers on the backs of our cars, been cheap…and talked to you in everyday conversations by using language you couldn’t understand. For all that, and much more, please accept my sincerest apologies. We’ve alienated you, judged you, been condescending to you, been unreliable, sold you short, not helped, and not been there to encourage you when you needed it…”

Toward the end of the book, Jason offers a challenge to well-groomed, perhaps indoctrinated (insensitive?) Christians. The main purpose of his challenge is to get Christians aspiring to be recognized for their behavior, not their title:

“Here’s my challenge to Christians: Consider no longer calling yourself a‘Christian.’ Take a few seconds to think about what it would mean if you had to stop using that term to describe yourself. What would you have to do? Most likely, you’d be forced to do something drastic. Above all else, you’d have to consider your attitude and actions in everything. Like never before, you’d have to take into account how you represent the truth hidden in your heart…”

In my opinion, 10 Things is a great stepping-stone for those who are trying to find their way over personal stumbling blocks on their way to belief.

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Are Christians Delusional?

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I recently received an email from a gentleman trying to ‘convert’ me. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say ‘unconvert’ me from my faith. He was bringing to my attention a book he was a contributor on. Although it may not sound like it, the email was a very friendly. He was wanting simply to create a dialogue–which I am all for.

The book is called the The Christian Delusion (Why Faith Fails).

Now let me make it clear, I HAVE NOT read the book. I have, however, read the extensive summary on each chapter over here. (BTW-I have requested a review copy).

From what I can gather, through a variety of approaches (from different contributors) it seeks to prove that those who believe in Jesus (are Christians) are delusional, stupid, and dangerous.

Now, I was doing a radio interview in Sydney, Australia last week. The host mentioned Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to me (since one of them had been on the show the day before). I described this movement as “Fundamentalist Atheists”–which he gave a good laugh to. This is a good description of this book.

For example, it attacks the resurrection of Jesus as a ridiculous myth, asserts that many Christians have believed in a flat-earth and alleges the Bible supports this) so Christianity must be false, calls God retarded (yes, that’s in there), says God is evil, and the Bible is filled with silly fairy tales–to name a few things.

A few things struck me as I read the summary:

1. If Christianity is so inconsequential then why not ignore it? Why all the effort? It would seem to me that the best why to deal with something that is so ridiculous, is to give it no mind or effort. For example, I do not believe in the Loch Ness Monster, so I am not going to write a whole book on why I don’t. I simply let it be inconsequential by ignoring it.

2. This book seems to be very angry. I know that sounds funny coming from a guy who wrote a book called 10 Things I Hate About Christianity, but it’s true (and my book isn’t actually an angry one). Many atheists take Christianity to task for being ‘mean and hateful’. I get it. But It is also ironic, since many atheists reciprocate to a venomous degree as a solution.

3. Delusion implies deceit. I am not trying to deceive anyone. I actually believe in God and Jesus. And yes, some atheists are mad at me because: 1) I used that title (of my book) before them and 2) am still a Christian.

Anyway, there are some brief thoughts. I have no particular animus for atheists or agnostics. I have several that I call friends. I am simply commenting on this new book. I look forward to reviewing it.

*So now it’s time for some atheist jokes to add some humor.

What did the atheist say when he was about to smash into the car in front of him at full speed? GOD HELP ME!

How many atheists does it take to screw in a light bulb? I don’t know. They’re too busy telling me that since there is not light that they can objectively see right now, then there is no reason to believe another bulb will produce this thing you call ‘light’.

Got any of your own?

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