Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Answer to Bad Religion Is Not No Religion A Guide to Good Religion for Seekers, Skeptics, and Believers

  • File Size: 482 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press (January 31, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
If you think the only logical response to bad Christianity is to leave Christianity completely, this book is for you. In an effort to help those who've been hurt by or turned off by negative religion, Martin Thielen explains that there is an alternative to abandoning religion: good religion. Thielen uses personal stories to illustrate the dangers of religion that is judgmental, anti-intellectual, and legalistic. While addressing the growth of the new atheism movement and the "Nones" (people that have no religious affiliation), this book argues that leaving religion is not practical, not helpful, and not necessary. Thielen provides counterparts to the characteristics of bad religion, explaining that good religion is grace-filled, promotes love and forgiveness, and is inclusive and hope-filled. Perfect for individual, group, or congregational study, a Leader's Guide and a Worship and Outreach Kit are also available to further the discussion and increase community involvement. 

 My Impression: 

I am finding it difficult to review this book. In fact I found it difficult to read this book. I agree in part with Theilen and in part I found him as hypocritical and lacking understanding of God, the Bible and Christians in general. 

Theilen gives several examples of what he believes to be “good religion” and “bad religion”. Some I have to agree with, such as all religions and Christians should treat other with love and respect instead of with hatred. We should be placing Christ first and the world second and it should show clearly to society that our life is lived for Christ by putting into practice the principles of Christ in our daily walk. Sadly, no matter what church or religion you are a part of there will be hypocrites, people filled with hate, intolerance and bigotry.  We are human, we sin and we fall short time and again. It is one of the numerous reasons why we need Christ. 

As a whole I did not get the impression that Theilen believes you actually can and should live your life according to the Bible completely. Our aim should be to follow after Christ by example and we get those examples in the Bible, which is literally God breathed. Not only can we take the Bible literally, but we must take the Bible literally. Even Christ and the disciples took the bible in literal context when they quoted the Old Testament. Although the author clearly states he does not believe this and finds it ridiculous that others believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God. 

I feel strongly that you cannot pick and chose which bible verses you want to be literal and which ones you want to be taken as a hypothetical suggestion just so you can live your life the way you want or justify something as the author suggests you can. It’s hypocritical theology that is warped and undermines the truth and God. If you want to live a life according to the gospel then you must accept Gods Word without error and current for today’s circumstances just as it was when it was wrote. It does not change because society deems it needs to in order to fit a mold that is popular today. 

Fundamentalist or conservation Christian group as they are referred to throughout this book  are attacked and the author feels they are they reason behind the departure from religion simply because they do stand strongly on truth and in God’s word as literal without giving into new scientific findings and other popular mainstream church ideas just to appease the masses.  I am sorry but I firmly believe that Christ knows more than anything any of our scientists can uncover, after all He created us and the world, not the scientists.  You can live according to the Bible as literal and still show love and compassion to those who are sinning and go against the Word, after all we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. 

As for judging others I will only say this: We are called to judge the ACTION, not the PERSON and we are to do so in LOVE not condemnation. We are to speak truth no matter the circumstances, but not our truth, GODS truth.

·        “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.” (John 7:24)
·        “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters?” (1 Cor 6:2-3)
·        “The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment* by anyone.” (1 Cor 2:15)
·        “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is right.” (Psalm 37:30)
·        “With my lips I recite all the judgments you have spoken.” (Psalm 119:13)
·        Open your mouth, judge justly, defend the needy and the poor!” (Proverbs 31:9)
·        “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all” (1 Thess. 5:14-15).

About the Author

Martin Thielen is Senior Pastor of Cookeville United Methodist Church in Cookeville, Tennessee. He writes columns for MinistryMatters.com, Circuit Rider, and Net Results. He has written five books, including the best-selling What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 
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