on my bookshelf: a faith of our own

faith-of-our-own I just finished reading A Faith of Our Own by Jonathan Merritt based on a recommendation from my dad.  The book is focused on shifting away from “the culture wars” and searching for a more effective approach to living out the gospel.  He shares some history of how Christianity has evolved over time and encourages Christians to focus on serving others in their daily lives rather than relying solely on politics and voting to transform culture, as they sometimes have in the past.  I really loved his desire to end the “us-versus-them” mentality and focus instead on loving and serving the way Jesus did.

This statement really captures the heart of the book –

“‘Christians…forget that it is not what you think or how much power you have or how you vote that changes the world.  It’s your hands that do the changing'” (page 142).

Here are a few of my other favorite quotes…

“‘Twenty years ago when I was looking at evangelical Christianity from the inside, it seemed like a movement bursting with energy to spread good news to people,’ he [Brandon, a 32-year-old who has left the church] says.  ‘Looking at it from the outside today, the message seems to have been lost in exchange for an aggressive political agenda'” (page 80).

“The contrast between twenty-first century Christianity and the Jesus of the Bible is stark.  This Jesus–the compassionate loving friends of sinners–is difficult to reconcile with an often disconnected, insular ‘us-versus-them’ Christianity.  Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love, but in America today they are known in part for their anger toward homosexuals” (page 114).

“Rather than get offended at our world’s brokenness, Christians see these as opportunities.  When they perceive a problem, they are less likely to mobilize an angry protest and more likely to begin working with others to create and implement solutions.  Rather than focusing on what’s wrong in culture and warring against it, they are cultivating goodness” (page 126).

“…every story has a climax, and today’s Christians are convinced that the climax of the Bible’s narrative is Jesus.  Everything in the Scriptures point to Christ and everything speaks of Christ.  He stands with God at the Creation, is surprisingly sewn throughout the Old Testament, is the subject of the Gospels, and Paul begins almost every letter by invoking His name.  For a growing number of rising Christians, He is also the paradigm through which they are reading the Bible anew.  If Christians are shifting, a reacquainting with the person and work of Jesus is almost certainly behind it” (page 130).

I respect the fact that although Merritt spends much of the book highlighting the faults of Christian movements in the past, his closing chapter begins with this quote from George Orwell…

“‘Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it'”  (page 170).

As important as it is to improve the way that we live to better serve God, I think it’s also very important to recognize the value in past generations’ efforts (regardless of their downfalls) and to look critically at our own mistakes rather than just everybody else’s.

Read about more books on my bookshelf here:
Faith Unraveled
My Lucky Life
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus