“One of the darkest secrets of Christianity in America is that we are losing our kids.” (12) We're losing college age and senior citizens too. “The church in America is in a total crisis.” (207) Fisk says the reason is that we are laying foundations on something other than God's Word. The kind of Christianity the church is preaching is broken.
Fisk's goal is to reveal the ploys of the devil to get us to believe in ourselves rather than God. He explores seven counterfeit patterns of thinking the devil would have us believe is real Christianity.
Mysticism: finding something godlike in yourself
Moralism: believing you can access God through your own efforts
Rationalism: believing you can find God with your mind
Prosperity: believing how God feels about you is measured by your life right now
Churchology: believing you can find God in your efforts to be the church
Freedom: believing you can better relate to God by getting rid of all the rules
Ever-Lie: believing that you can find God yourself – that it is up to you
There have been all kinds of attempts at advancing the church. But they are not working. Fisk says it is time to quit thinking about changing the church to reach people. “Instead, we should worry a little more about the authentic content of what Jesus told us to teach them.” (271)
This is a quirky but powerful book. It is quirky because it has odd illustrations, different text formating, and otherwise unusual design. It is powerful because he hits the problem square on the head, I think.
This book is well worth reading. He attacks just about everything that is wrong with the church. There will be lots of people who will be offended, I am sure, because of his direct way of pointing out error. Even I, as a Calvinist, was offended when Fisk described Calvin's teaching “that Jesus Christ is not present bodily in the Lord's Supper” as false teaching. (126) But Fisk is a Lutheran and I'll let that go.
If you are tired of all the gimmicks, the latest DVD series on church growth or worship or whatever, read this book. It will give you much to think and pray about.
You can find a downloadable discussion guide here.
Jonathan Fisk is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL.
Concordia Publishing house, 280 pages.