Tebow Encourages Those Shaken

Tim Tebow, ShakenTim Tebow[1]with A.J. Gregory. 2018. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. New York: Waterbrook.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Life can be a pill. The darkest twelve months of my life arose during 1992/93 when I experienced a layoff, my son was born with one kidney that quickly became blocked, and my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. My wife and I came through these events with the support of our church. In the midst of stress that tore apart other families that we know, I turned to God and later responded to a call to ministry.[2]Stress has a way of clarifying priorities.

Introduction

In his spiritual memoir, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms, Tim Tebow writes:

“It’s tempting to define ourselves or measure our with by the external: by how much money we have, by how we look, by the applause of others. The list is long. It’s also tempting to determine our identity by our life circumstances…My identity is tied into whose I am.”(4)

The book’s title is taken from Psalm 16:8—I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Who is Tim Tebow?

Tebow is not only a Christian; he is the son of missionaries, born in Manilla, Philippines (1987). Tebow currently plays professional baseball with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies,[3]but is also a former NFL quarterback (Broncos, Jets, Patriots) and Heisman trophy winner (2007). It is probably safe to say that he is most proud of his charitable work with the Tim Tebow Foundation that reaches out to encourage children with life-threatening issues.

Because I do not follow sports, Tebow is one of the few living football players that I know by name and it is because of his willingness to pray publicly during athletic competition. As a consequence of the publicity that is associated with his open prayer, Google defines the word, Tebowing, “as the act of getting down on one knee to pray, regardless of what others around you are doing.”I suspect that no other living 30-year old has contributed a new word to the dictionary in this manner.

Organization

Tebow writes in ten chapters proceeded by an introduction and followed by acknowledgments and notes. The chapters are:

  1. Cut
  2. Who Am I?
  3. Facing the Giants
  4. The Voices of Negativity
  5. God’s Got It
  6. The Others
  7. Who Said Normal is the Goal?
  8. Stand Up
  9. The Power of Doing Something
  10. What Matters Most(vii)

This is a book about encouragement and it starts by walking the reader through some of Tebow’s darkest days, when he lost his status as a professional quarterback in the NFL. These dark days framed his title: shaken.

Encouragement

Tebow summarizes:

“While this book doesn’t offer cookie-cutter answers or a concrete plan about what to do when you stand on shaky ground, it does offer you truth. One thing can change every: knowing who you are in God can give you purpose and reshape your destiny in incredible ways.”(6)

An old saw that pastors use sounds very similar: “I do not know a solution to your problem, but I know someone who does.” Spiritual advisors likewise specialize in pointing out God’s work in your life, something that is frequently not obvious when one is in pain or when we are not paying attention.

An example of God’s quiet work showed up when the world started to notice Tebow’s faith when he began using his eye-black to display Bible verses at University of Florida. He started with Philippians 4:13—“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” During the National Championship game in 2009, Tebow changed his eye-black to read, John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”Ninety-four million people Googled the verse during the course of the game. Three years later after the NFL passed a rule forbidding personalized eye-black messages, the Broncos public-relations guy reported:

“Do you know that it was exactly three years since you wrote’ John 3:16’? And during this game, you threw for 316 yards. Your yards per completion were 31.6. The time of possession was 31:06. The ratings for the night were 31.6 million. And during the game ninety million Googled ‘John 3:16’!”(154-156)

Do you think God noticed? For his part, Tebow focused on winning the game that night.

Assessment

Tim Tebow’s Shaken is an encouraging book. He tells lots of stories about his own experiences, particularly from his sport’s career, and relates them directly to his faith, which is why I would describe the book as a spiritual memoir. I read this book as part of a men’s group discussion and the accompanying videos have been most helpful in generating discussion.

Footnotes

[1]www.TimTebowFoundation.org. @TimTebow. @TebowFoundation.

[2]For those interested, I wrote about these events in my memoir, Called Along the Way(Centreville, VA: T2Pneuma Publishers LLC, 2017).

[3]“Tim Tebow Is Kinda Good at Baseball: The ex-football star keeps plugging away in the minor leagues on the idea that he can one day get to the majors.” By Matthew Gutierrez, Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2018 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tim-tebow-is-kinda-good-at-baseball-1526932242).

Tebow Encourages Those Shaken

Also see:

Jackson Shines Light on Football Dreams

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Robert Wicks, AvailabilityRobert Wicks. 2000. Availability: The Spiritual Joy of Helping Others. New York: Crossroad Publishing Company.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One of the more interesting definitions of the soul is that it encompasses who we are and who we are in relationship with, including God. This definition differs significantly from the Greek division of the person into body and spirit or, body, mind, and spirit. It also differs from the Freudian division into id, ego, and superego. When we talk about the three movements of the spirit, popularized recently by Henri Nouwen (1975), into polarities within, with God, and with others, we converge on this ancient notion of soul. Loneliness can accordingly be accurately described as an affliction of the soul, while frankly psychologists have really no conceptual basis for even describing it because it is relational, not part of the person.

Introduction

In his book, Availability: The Spiritual Joy of Helping Others, Robert Wicks describes his book’s theme in these words:

“…the more we can remove the blocks to an appreciation of who we are and who we are becoming, the truer we can be in our response to the Gospel call to serve others and God. We must be available then to ourselves so that our relationships can flow out of a healthy attitude and a clear awareness of our motivations.”(3)

While Wicks cites many passages of scripture, the one that comes to mind for me in reflecting on this book, the story of Bartimaeus, he does not cite. It reads:

“And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside … And Jesus stopped and said, Call him … And Jesus said to him, What do you want me to do for you?”(Mark 10:46-52 ESV)

What celebrity stops for a random person in a crowd, one of the invisible people? Yet, time and time again, Jesus made himself radically available to strangers.

Being Available to Ourselves

If loneliness is an affliction of the soul, availability enlarges and heals the soul; it is a gift (1). Wicks writes:

“Availability to ourselves increases along with availability to God and others because there is a unity in being true to oneself, others, and God.”(39)

Wicks clearly believes that being available to ourselves is the key to unlocking this gift. Note that in writing his book in eight chapters, four are devoted to being available to ourselves (half the book) while only two chapters are devoted to being available to others and two to God (v).

Wicks focuses on being available to ourselves in terms of recognizing our uniqueness and limits, being willing to forgive ourselves in failure, cultivating self-awareness, and developing emotional and mental clarity, avoiding defensiveness.

Being Available to Others

Being available to others can be easily described, but it is an area fraught with confusion. Wicks writes:

“Being available to others is not just giving time, money, and effort. It is also not endlessly worrying about others so that our personal tension rises to the point that we are overloaded and have no energy to care about anything or anyone anymore.” (40)

Obviously, burnout is a real possibility. I have seen pastors experiencing anxiety attacks, running around trying to do everything, and being subject to temptations that would not normally afflict them, had they honored their own limits.

Being Available to God

In his discussion of being available to God, Wicks makes an important observation:

“When we play at prayer, rather than open ourselves up to listen, it is we who are truly not available to God.”(95)

When you pray, do you do all the talking? God answers prayer, sometimes quite quickly, but we need to be listening. He goes on:

“…if there is a key to understanding the problems of availability and appreciating it as a gift, this key is contained in our seeking unity within and without by placing ourselves continually in the presence of God: to relax, to sit, to learn, to work, to contemplate, to do everything in the presences of God.”(102)

When I am restless or distracted in prayer, I find it helpful to pray a centering prayer. For me, Psalm 8 centers me and helps me to separate myself from my own busyness. My own restlessness often makes continuous prayer during the day hard.

Assessment

Robert Wicks’ Availability: The Spiritual Joy of Helping Othersis short and easily read—a seminarian’s delight. Its brevity is disarming and masks the profound influence that this book had on my thinking early in seminary. After reading Wicks, I meditated on the story of Bartimaeus and Psalm 8 for years. Perhaps, you will too.

References

Nouwen, Henri J. M. 1975. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: DoubleDay. (Review)

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Also see:

Nouwen: Make Space for Self, Others, and God 

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Faith in Our Learning and Decision Making

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Simple FaithBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Faith is indispensable to how we perceive our world, what we consider good and bad, what we invest time and energy in learning more about, and how we make decisions, as I earlier discussed. In mathematical reasoning, faith provides the assumptions on which we base our analysis. When we take the discussion further to ask, why is it important to believe that God is a personal god—a trinity of three persons—we move beyond abstract assumptions and analysis to experience God’s love. God loves us enough to mentor us every moment of our lives, in good times and bad.

Our Rock

One of the most fundamental defenses of faith cited in the Bible arises in a parable told by Jesus:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matt 7:24-27)

Jesus might easily have addressed a room full of mathematicians because the order and stability of the created universe testifies to God’s existence and sovereignty.

Kurt Gödel, a Czech mathematician, who was born in 1906, educated in Vienna, and taught at Princeton University, is famous for his incompleteness theorem published in 1931. This theorem states that stability in any closed, logical system requires that at least one assumption be taken from outside that system. If creation is a closed, logical system (having only one set of physical laws suggests that it is) and exhibits stability, then it too must contain at least one external assumption. This is why computers cannot program themselves and why depressed people are advised to get out of the house and do something outside their normal routine—the same logic applies to any closed system.[1]

As creator, God, himself, fulfills the assumption of the incompleteness theorem (Smith 2001, 89) not only for us as individuals, but for the universe itself. Most eastern religions fail to grasp the significance of Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) How can there be an alternative path up the mountain to a Holy God who stands outside of time and space because he created them? Obviously, there is no other path up the mountain because as sinful people we are bound by time and space—we cannot approach a holy god. Humans have tried to build towers up to God since the Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-6)

God must come down the mountain because we cannot go up it. As Christians, we believe that God came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ, a point reiterated on the Day of Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the human house really is built on a rock.

Our Mentor

In recent years, we have heard occasionally about an expression, WWJD, short for what would Jesus do? The Prophet Isaiah said this of the long anticipated Messiah:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6)

Who wouldn’t want a divine counselor? Jesus likewise described the work of the Holy Spirit as that of a counselor:

“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12)

If God himself, who is omnipresent and omniscient, is our counselor how can we fail?
What is most interesting about God’s willingness to mentor us is not just that we have the world’s most powerful person on our side—actually, an omnipresent, omniscient helicopter-parent would be most unbearable. What is interesting is that God mentored us from the beginning. In Genesis we read:

“Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” (Gen 2:19)

God could have just put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as slave-gardeners, but instead he gave them responsibilities and spent time with them like a loving parent, a theme reiterated in the story of Abraham. God blessed Abraham so that he could be a blessing to others (Gen 12:1-3).

Like Abraham, God mentors and blesses us so that we can mentor and bless those around us. To those for whom much is given, much is expected. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins makes possible God’s forgiveness, but we are expected to forgive others (Matt 6:14-15). We are to model God’s love.

References

Smith, Houston. 2001. Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief. San Francisco: Harper.


[1] An example can be seen in economics as applied to price theory. The U.S. economy requires one price be set outside the economy (in the world market) to assure stability. In the nineteenth century, that price was gold, and the system was called the gold standard. Every price in the U.S. economy could be expressed in terms of how much gold it was worth, as the dollar functions that way. Economists refer to this principle as the fixed-point theorem.

Faith in Our Learning and Decision Making

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Prayer to Deepen Faith

Life in Tension by Stephen W. HiemstraBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father,

I believe in Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. Come into my life, help me to renounce and grieve the sin in my life that separates me from God. Cleanse me of this sin, renew your Holy Spirit within me so that I will not sin any further. Bring saints and a faithful church into my life to keep me honest with myself and draw me closer to you. Break any chains that bind me to the past—be they pains or sorrows or grievous temptations, that I might freely welcome God, the Father, into my life, who through Christ Jesus can bridge any gap and heal any affliction, now and always. In Jesus’ previous name, Amen.

 

Prayer to Deepen Faith

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

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Christian Spirituality

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality
For more information, see: T2Pneuma.com

Christian Spirituality

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Spirituality is lived belief. When we pray, worship, or reach out to our neighbors, we live out our beliefs. Our beliefs structure our spirituality like skin stretched over the bones of our bodies. These beliefs start with faith in God the Father through Jesus Christ as revealed through the Holy Spirit in scripture, the church, and daily life. Our theology orders our beliefs. Without a coherent theology, we lose our identity in space and time having no map or compass to guide us on our way. In the end, we focus on ourselves, not God.

Spiritual Foundation

Christian spirituality accordingly starts with God, not with us. Like the woman Jesus cured of a spinal disfiguration, our only response can be to glorify God with songs of praise (Luke 13:13). We experience lasting Christian joy, not with recognizing Christ as savior, but with recognizing Christ as Lord. Spiritual disciplines and experiences are part of this spirituality, but they are not necessarily the focus (1 Cor 13:8).

This focus on what God has done begins in verse one of Genesis where God is pictured creating the heavens and the earth. What exactly have we done to deserve being created? Nothing. In fact, our first independent act was to sin. What exactly have we done to warrant forgiveness? Nothing. Christ died for our sins. The only meaningful response to these gifts of creation and salvation is praise.

Early Church

The early church interpreted and summarized God’s revelations in the biblical text and early creeds. It later developed the catechisms to summarize key church doctrines. The Heidelberg Catechism, Luther’s catechism, and the Catholic catechism focus on three key statements of faith: the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (Chan 2006, 108). Not surprisingly, Sunday morning worship has for centuries focused on these three faith statements, often being memorized and put to music. The Heidelberg Catechism, for example, encourages a focus on worship and is itself divided into 52 sermon topics for weekly use.

The key spiritual discipline in the Christian faith naturally is Sunday morning worship. The worship service includes prayer, readings from scripture, the spoken word, the sacraments, music, statements of faith, and other expressions of faithful worship. In worship, music binds our hearts and minds.

Spiritual Practices

This worship experience is strengthened daily through personal devotions as well as devotions with our spouses, families, and other small groups. The original small group is the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—our template for healthy community. And when we take our spirituality into the work world, it too becomes an opportunity for worship.

Hear the words; walk the steps; experience the joy!

Reference

Chan, Simon. 2006. Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Thielicke, Helmut. 1962. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

 

Also see:  Looking Back 

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Prayer of Faith

Cover, Life in Tension

Prayer of Faith

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father,

I believe in Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

Come into my life, help me to renounce and grieve the sin in my life that separates me from God.

Cleanse me of this sin, renew your Holy Spirit within me so that I will not sin any further.

Strengthen my faith. Bring saints and a faithful church into my life to keep me honest with myself and draw me closer to you.

Break any chains that bind me to the past—be they pains or sorrows or grievous temptations.

May I  freely welcome God, the Father, into my life, who through Christ Jesus can bridge any gap and heal any affliction, now and always.

In Jesus’ previous name, Amen.

 

Also see: Prayer to Increase Faith

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Prayer for Faith of the Newly Baptized

Baptism, Broad Run, Manassas, Virginia
Broad Run, Manassas, Virginia

Prayer for Faith of the Newly Baptized

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the gift of faith that we might be baptized.

Thank you that you are willing to enter our lives and recreate us in your image,

in spite of our rebellion and sin.

Thank you that, through your Holy Spirit, we can take a small step of faith

and choose a new path, not knowing where it will lead, but confident that you will be with us.

Thank you for washing away our sins through the blood of the lamb

and that we might die to those sins and be born again in your spirit.

Thank you.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit,

guard our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ and grow our faith,

that we might inch closer to you with each passing day.

Amen.

 

Also see:

Prayer to Increase Faith 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage with me online:

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Augustine’s Confessions, Part 3—Coming to Faith

Augustine's ConfessionsAugustine’s Confessions, Part 3—Coming to Faith

Foley, Michael P. [editor] 2006. Augustine Confessions (Orig Pub 397 AD). 2nd Edition. Translated by F. J. Sheed (1942). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (Goto Part 1; Goto Part 2; Goto Part 4)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

In part one of this review, I gave an overview of Augustine’s life and Confessions. In part two, I focused on his attitude about sin. Here in part three, I will look at Augustine’s journey of faith.

Overview

Augustine comes to faith at the age of thirty-two having struggled with sin, as discussed earlier, and giving up his career as a teacher of rhetoric and his betrothal to a younger woman to be ordained as priest. His conversion to Christianity is remarkable, not only because of the things that he gave up, but also because he actively considered the Manichean philosophy and because of the active influence of his Catholic mother, Monica. The timing of his conversion also coincided with a mystical experience.

Conviction of Sin

Augustine’s struggle with sexual passions caused him great anguish before his conversion and the story of the conversion of Victorinus, a fellow professor of rhetoric in Rome (142) weighed heavily on him. Augustine writes:

“Now when this man of Yours, Simplicianus had told me the story of Victorinus, I was on fire to imitate him: which indeed was why he had told me. He added that in the time of the Emperor Julian, when a law was made prohibiting Christians from teaching Literature and Rhetoric, Victorinus had obeyed the law, preferring to give up his own school of words rather than Your word, by which You make eloquent the tongues of babes.” (147)

These are not the words of a stoic philosopher. Augustine writes like a man in chains to his sin saying:

“Thus I was sick at heart and in torment, accusing myself with new intensity of bitterness, twisting and turning in my chain in the hope that it might be utterly broken, for what held me was so small a thing.” (167).

Confession

As Augustine then confessed his sin to God in private, he writes:

“Such things I said, weeping in the most bitter sorrow of my heart. And suddenly I hear a voice from some nearby house, a boy’s voice or a girl’s voice, I do not know, but it was a sort of sing-song, repeated again and again, ‘Take and read, take and read.’” (169)

Augustine borrowed a book of scriptures from his friend, Alypius, and opened it randomly coming to this verse:

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” (Rom 13:13 ESV)

Convicted immediately of his sexual sin, he took this passage as a word from God to him personally and went to his mother to announce that he was a Christian (160).

Prayer

He later prays:

“O LORD, I am Thy servant: I am Thy servant and the son of Thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds. I will sacrifice to Thee the sacrifice of praise.” (163)

Having prayed for his conversion his entire life, Augustine’s mother died later that year.

 

Also see:

The Christian Memoir 

Karr Voices Memoir Clearly 

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Prayer to Increase Faith

Oak Tree in Oakton, Virginia

Prayer to Increase Faith

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

I praise you for the gift of another day,

let the newest of the day (Isa 43:1) be expressed in new faith.

I confess that I have to  frequently blocked your access to my heart

in despair, in self-pity, and in cynicism not worthy of your love.

Thank you for not giving up on me (Eze 37).

In the power of your Holy Spirit,

give me instead a stronger, more vibrant faith (2 Cor 4:8-9),

where I am able to make you Lord over increasing parts of my life (Acts 4:36-37)

and drain the despair, self-pity, and cynicism by laying my griefs at your feet (Ps 31:9-14).

In Jesus’ name, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2), Amen.

 

Other ways to engage with me online:

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Read my April newsletter at: http://mailchi.mp/t2pneuma/monthly-postings-on-t2pneumanet.

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Kinnaman and Lyon Research Faithful Living, Part 1

Kinnaman and L:yons, Good Faith

Kinnaman and Lyon Research Faithful Living, Part 1

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. 2016. Good Faith: Being A Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme.[1] Grand Rapids: BakerBooks. (Goto part 2; goto part 3)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

During periods of philosophical transition, old verities no longer work and the new ones have yet to be discovered. In the early stage of a transition, the focus remains on the past. The middle stage begins once the obsession with the past subsides, but the future still remains murky. This middle stage holds the most uncertainty, but it also offers the most potential for innovation; that is, until the final stage comes into focus. Because the church currently finds itself in this middle stage, statistically-based research adds great value to the conversation.

Introduction

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ new book, Good Faith, starts by posing this question:

“What does the future hold for people of faith when people perceive Christians as irrelevant and extreme?” (12)

The purpose of their book is “to make a case for good faith” (15) which they described as having “three essential ingredients”, which are: “how well you love, what you believe, and how you live” (72).  Kinnaman and Lyons explain these three ingredients in terms of loving God and loving others, remaining biblically orthodox, and living a lifestyle consistent with the two (72-74).

Irrelevant and Extreme

So why do people perceive faith to be irrelevant and extreme?

Irrelevant.

Kinnaman and Lyons see the perception of irrelevance as a combination of apathy and ignorance (21-22).

Apathy jumps out of some basic statistics. Three out of four Americans have some Christian background, but only two in five Christians actively practice their faith (27). The good news is that the share of Christians who practice their faith has remained relatively stable over the generations (224).The decline in the share of nominal Christians, however, normally dominates the headlines.

Role of the Church in Charity

With little or no social pressure to maintain ties to the church, many American remain ignorant of the role of the church in our culture. For example, many people do not realize that religious groups “make up the largest single share of national charitable giving” (30). When the Obama administration wanted to make progress on prison reform, hunger relief, combating sex-trafficking, and fighting poverty, they called on Christian-led organizations who did the most work in these areas (21). The Christian influence is not understood, in part, because people do not know that many American institutions, including school and universities, hospitals, labor unions, public libraries, voting rights for women and minorities, and endowments for the arts and sciences, began as Christian initiatives (33).

Halo Effect

If you still believe that faith does not matter, consider a secular study done by economists at the University of Pennsylvania which looked at the economic benefit (or “halo effect”) of a dozen houses of worship (ten Protestant churches, one Catholic, and one Jewish) in Philadelphia. The study estimated the economic benefit to be $50 million per year (238). Another study, sponsored by World Vision in 2014, found that people generally believed churches should be involved in public issues like child protection and human rights, but were less tolerant of church involvement in their own spiritual lives (239).

Extreme.

Christian faith appears extreme, not because it is dangerous, but because it is different (22). Pluralistic culture presumably preaches love and individualism, but endless corporate advertising homogenizes perceptions around consumerism and conformity, debasing real love and making a mockery of individual gifts, differences, and preferences.

Kinnaman and Lyons ask a pointed question: “Is it extremism when people live according to what they believe to be true about the world?” (40) Many Americans apparently would answer yes. Kinnaman and Lyons observe:

“While not majority opinions, millions of adults contend that behaviors such as donating money to religious causes, reading the Bible silently in public, and even attending church or volunteering are examples of religious extremism.” (41)

Conversation Difficult

Because many Americans believe that Christian faith is extremist, conversation across the faith divide has become more difficult. A majority of Americans, for example, find it is more difficult to speak with an evangelical (55%) than someone in the LGBT community (52%) (45).

In part 1 of this review, I have provided an overview of the author’s problem statement. In parts  2 and 3 I will look at their suggestions for how to deal with the problem.

Assessment

In their new book, Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons explore the perceptions that Christian faith is both irrelevant and extreme, employing empirical studies and data to make their case. Their analysis bears examination and discussion by practicing Christians, seminary students, pastors, and researchers.

[1] https://www.barna.com, @BarnaGroup, www.GoodFaithBook.org, @DavidKinnaman, http://QIdeas.org, @GabeLyons

 

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb

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