Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review - Not the Religious Type by Dave Schmelzer

I bought a copy of Not the Religious Type after a few months of reading the posts and conversations at the Not the Religious Type blog launched in conjunction with the book. I had found the ideas on the blog very thought provoking and helpful in my own wrestling with faith and culture.

The title of the book struck me as if it were going to be something of a book on apologetics. I'm fine with books on apologetics but so often those books, while articulating clear reasons for belief, do very little redemptive or helpful beyond that. Thankfully this was not one of those kinds of books!

There seems to be 2 prominent views these days on faith and culture. One version sees the surrounding culture as something that must be pulled away from, that the culture itself is an evil and corrupting force and is the arch enemy of those of faith. This view fails to take into account its own cultural baggage.

The other view in our world these days sees the culture as something which Christians must very much engage or at least account for in Church. While this view of church has shown some promise it has also very much had its pitfalls as some have sought so much to be culturally relevant that they have lost the very distinctive of what being a Christ-Follower is all about.

Enter Dave Schmelzer...
Schmelzer makes the case very convincingly that each of us has cultural baggage, Christian, secular or otherwise, that can be detrimental to following Jesus, but that rather than fighting over issues of one culture over and against another he argues simply for the experience of God wherever a person may be. The way Schmezer sees it is that God wants us to experience him and that each time we do it validates our journey towards Christ. This argument isn't just some abstract argument that Schmelzer came up with but is rather drawn from his own story of journeying from atheism to faith in Jesus. The ramifications are that Christ followers need not spend a whole lot of time arguing with people over beliefs but simply trying to help others to experience God wherever they are. This is a very simple idea but profoundly helpful in my own wrestling with the dynamics of faith and culture.

In Not the Religious Type Schmelzer has articulated ideas on faith and culture that I have felt for a long time but have never quite been able to put into words. This book is a very relevant contribution to current discussion of faith and culture in our world which of late has seemed to deteriorate into constant fighting over beliefs and boundaries.
Not the Religious Type is written in a way that feels as much like a conversation as reading a book (which also makes for a quick read). I hope that more folks get a hold of this book because no matter where a person may find his/herself in their journey or culture, I believe that this book will help them begin moving towards Jesus.

1 comment:

Pi Man said...

Cool… cool.
Your statement of “…Christ followers need not spend a whole lot of time arguing with people over beliefs but simply trying to help others to experience God wherever they are“ is certainly a value that I think we’re continually trying to convey at VCFK. It falls right in line with having the privilege of bringing the Kingdom of God in heaven to earth right now. (Not to mention it compliments your sermon on John 4 two weeks ago when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well.) That being said, isn’t it interesting that most don’t have a problem with either of those things. It’s when we invoke/employ/equate God with Jesus that the “rubber meets the road,” and the “challenge” or “conflict” so to speak begins. It certainly makes us think about how we would and do handle that situation, eh? Even in John 4, when Christ meets the woman “where she is,” he still makes sure she knows that He is the way, the truth, and the life….. Thanks Bro. I’ll check it out. TA