Many church leaders today give pleasant, positive, and inspiring messages. On the surface, that might look like Christianity. But, Glen writes, it is not. It is only half the gospel. It is Christianity “lite.” It emphasizes the blessings but ignores the requirements. (This has been named Moral Therapeutic Deism, p.121.)
We don't need Christianity lite. We need the real thing. We need to die to self and live to Christ. Why don't we? Glen writes that there is a war going on in our hearts. “In Christianity Lite people are in control. They think they can choose to respond to God on their terms and on their schedule.” (23) True Christianity? The Father is in complete control.
Glen identifies the anorexic version of the gospel – it doesn't challenge and it doesn't inspire. At best it ignores the power of God and at worst it denies it. It thinks of prayer as an afterthought. It overlooks the clear, but uncomfortable, cost of discipleship.
“Jesus didn't come to make us happy. He came to humiliate our flesh so He could transform us and raise us to a new life.” (15) “When we follow Jesus, everything isn't always bright and sunny. We experience suffering, pain, and loss.” (96) Glen reminds us of the cost in pride, comfort, habits, and reputation. “If we're serious about following Jesus, nothing is off limits.” (110)
Glen is serious about living out real Christianity instead of the “lite” version. He gives many examples from his own life, the lives of others, and from the Bible.
Just a note for all readers: Glen is charismatic and one aspect of his encouragement to live out the full gospel includes authority to cast out demons and other aspects of spiritual warfare.
At the end of each chapter, Glen has included questions to stimulate thinking, guide prayers, and propel to action. These questions may be used on a personal level but would also work well for group discussion. Glen has also provided an appendix with suggestions for using the book in classes and groups.
Glen Berteau is the senior pastor of The House Modesto in Modesto, California, a church of more than 8,000. He has a master's degree in pastoral ministries and is the author of two other books.
Passio (Charisma House Book Group), 228 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.