Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don't Belong To by Lillian Daniel

Daniel was tired of feeling responsible to apologize for everything done by anyone who called themselves a Christian. She shares her thoughts on the kind of spirituality she embraces and promotes.

She writes about inventing our own spirituality, Fundamentalists defining religion, listening to NONES and attracting them to church and convincing them of the value of faith and community. She explains how exclusive salvation views turn people off. She advocates paying attention to the entire Bible, not just proof texts.

Daniel describes herself as a “liberal Christian” and an open-minded one. Evangelical Christians may have difficulty with Daniel identifying herself as a Christian. She says being born again and saved hasn't happened to her. (135) She participated in the movement for gay marriage. She writes, “I believe you can be an open-minded Christian, who thinks God can work out everyone's salvation.” (16) “I believe there are many paths to God.” (14)

Daniel emphasizes how we live, not what we believe. “I'm a pastor,” she writes, “and I don't care what you believe. I don't think God does either.” (121) She draws our attention to what Jesus said and did, not doctrine.

While I don't agree with much Daniel writes, I do appreciate that she draws attention to “Christendom” and the negative effect it has had on the perception of Christianity by many. I also appreciate her emphasis on what the church should really be doing, helping one another in community. This book reminded me that Christianity is a broad spectrum. It also reminded me that it is important I know what I believe and why I believe it.

Those within the more conservative Christian community might want to read this book to understand how the liberal Christian community thinks, worships, and ministers. There might be a good discussion resulting as to what really defines a Christian and what communities of faith are to be doing.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Lillian Daniel is an editor at large for the Christian Century Magazine, and a contributing editor at Leadership Journal. She has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago Divinity School and at her alma mater, Yale Divinity School. A frequent speaker around the country, she has preached at the National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, and the Festival of Homiletics. She is currently Senior Minister at First Congregational Church in Dubuque, Iowa. You can find out more at http://www.lilliandaniel.com/.

FaithWords, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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