June 1, 2009

Part I: Introduction

Too Political

A friend of mine recently read Unchristian by David Kinnaman and it has so affected his thought that he asked me to read it, and talk to him about the content. So recently I took the book from the library and am currently reading it.

The gist of the book is simple. At the request of a friend, Mr. Kinnaman of the Barna Group began an investigation into how those who are not Christians view Christianity. I find it interesting that he doesn't use the word 'Nonchristian' to describe them, but instead chooses the word 'outsiders'. Means the same thing, but apparently he found that the word "Nonchristian' has some unnecessary baggage attached to it that he wanted to distance himself from. That's fine. In either case, he began a research project into what can essentially be called Christianity's public image.

Now, I haven't read through the book (I like to write about books as I read them since this blog is more a record of my thinking process than it is a catalog of my opinion), but I've finished the first two chapters and I am happy to say that he seems to be avoiding the mentality that I feared.

Personally, I do not think it is our responsibility as Christianity to be liked. The world isn't supposed to like us, Christ made that quite clear. The early church's reputation was replete with false accusations and misunderstandings. So the fact that such things are happening now, it doesn't mean that we are being bad. Mr. Kinnaman seems to agree:
"As Christians, we have to avoid being defensive about the culture's push to remove Christianity's power in society. This book never advocates that we try to become more popular. Our task is to be effective agents of spiritual transformation in people's lives, whatever that may cost in time, comfort, or image." -pp. 19

The issue isn't so much whether the culture likes us or not. It is: Are these the things that we want them to be made at us for? Are these the big issues?

Kinnaman 6 different issues which seem to be at the forefront of our PR. As I go through the book, I intend to address Kinnaman's thoughts as well as bringing up my own. You may notice that up top I have a list of the various parts to this series. They will eventually be links that I'll be updating as the series progresses so that each post links to each post.

I hope to get through this in the next two weeks. I look forward to your thoughts.

Copyright for all references to the book in this series: David Kinnaman,UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity... And Why It Matters, (Grand Rapids, Mishigan: Baker Books, 2007).


Mason said...

JC, looks like an interesting book, look forward to hearing more.

While I agree that there is an important way in which the Gospel message is incredibly counterintuitive and challenging to the ways of this world (and therefore offensive), I worry that too often what is offensive to those outside the church is not our Gospel but us and the way we present it.

Paul after all says we are to make the Gospel attractive through the way we live (Titus 2:10) and while some will always be offended by it, we need to be very cautious about letting the ‘offensiveness’ of the Gospel become an excuse to act like jerks to people we disagree with.

Dan Martin said...

I second Mason's comment. Jesus himself is a stumbling stone (Matt 21:44, 1 Pet. 2:8), but we are warned NOT to be (Matt 18:6). I think that contrast is not well understood by the church.

I, too, look forward to your further reviews!

Anonymous said...

"Like" is very ambiguous - I think the Church is called to attract people as we see Jesus saying in Mt 5:16: "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven".

Elsewhere Paul predicts the Church will cause the Jews to become envious. I certainly think Christian worship, fellowship and compassion have the potential to attract people if done properly.