Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
Reviewing this book is difficult. I agree wholeheartedly with some of the things Thielen says about what it means to have "good religion" and why the world will never have no religion. I get the feeling though that this author would be surprised to hear that this form of loving, caring, and Christ-like religion can take place within a church that believes completely in the Bible.
This is where the difficulty comes in. While Thielen is talking about "bad religion" he consistently criticizes a certain type of church that has turned him off and he assumes scares away everyone else. He calls Bible-believing, conservative churches "arrogant, intolerant, and absolutist" many times as he encourages the reader not to be judgmental. I feel that this type of mud-throwing within the Christian community is in fact what confuses and discourages those who are lost and looking for the truth.
The truth is something that the author does not seem to feel that one can find. Though he uses scripture to support the characteristics of a good church or good Christian, he also says that it is ridiculous to take the Bible as God's literal Word. This pick-and-choose theology is another hypocrisy that I feel turns people away from the church. Believe this because God said it, but don't believe this part because surely He didn't mean it. Basing my faith on what this author, some other pastor, or I myself decide is true would not give me much comfort. I prefer to take God's word for it.
Thielen is 100% correct when he says that good religion treats others (all others) with love, not hatred. Good religion gives hope and comfort. If we practice good religion, we support each other in times of need and weakness. Good religion is practiced in a community where God is put first and other things of this world are second. It just takes the wind out of his sails when the author basis his argument on God's Word, but then proposes that you do not have to believe that it really is God's Word.
If you are looking for a well-written, convincing commentary on living a satisfying and God-pleasing faith, I would suggest The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn't Exist by Craig Groeschel.