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What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Most Paperback – January 28, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"For anyone still trying to get out from under that old, hard brand of Christianity that clinches its fist against science, women, or other faiths, and for those trying to sort out the simple basics of what we believe is at the heart of the Christian faith, Thielen's book is clear, accessible, down to earth, and reliable." James C. Howell, Senior Pastor, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, and author of The Will of God

"This is a fine resource for clergy and laity alike, particularly those who have wondered: 'Do I have to believe that?'" John M. Buchanan, Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois

"Thielen engages the kinds of questions people actually ask. He combines theological acumen, a pastor's heart, and a knack for story-telling to fashion one of the most useful books I've read in a long time." Michael A. Smith, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

About the Author

Martin Thielen is Senior Pastor of Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. He previously served as Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, for over a decade, during which the church experienced significant revitalization and growth. He has been a national worship and preaching consultant, seminary professor, and author, and has led more than one hundred church leadership workshops across the country. Visit his Web site at

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (January 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664236839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664236830
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Bob Hoskins VINE VOICE on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
... due to the way you see Christianity packaged and sold to us, then you might want to pick this one up.

If, like me, you're looking for answers to questions regarding the Christian faith then this book will serve your needs. Only to a point though, as it doesn't delve too deeply into Christianity. The book more outlines what maybe termed stumbling blocks to accepting the Christian faith and explains why these can be removed using the very source of the stumbling blocks, the bible, as a source for their removal.

The book is split into two halves:

10 things we DON'T need to believe and
10 things we DO need to believe.

Some of the 10 things we don't need to believe are:
True Christians can't believe in Evolution,
Why does God allow for catastrophe and terminal illness?
Why is it claimed that God only loves straight people?

Following this the author outlines the 10 things we do need to believe.

The author (Martin Thielen) has listed basically all my personal stumbling blocks that have kept me away from Christianity in a serious sense for 50 years. I was very, very glad to find this book as I've always wanted to get more involved but I've found myself remaining on the outside due to the conflicts in my mind.

He doesn't dispel these issues with "because the bible says so" but more accepts the issues as very viable and valid then goes on to use simple language and reasoning to prove them wrong or, at least, taken out of context. The book worked for me and helped me warm to the faith and accept the theology.

If you're struggling with Christianity in any sense due to irreconcilable issues then the book will help you overcome these issues and allow you to dispel them in a plausible way. It's a short book and doesn't use complex biblical type teachings that tend to overwhelm and confuse. It's plain English.

I enjoyed the book, it's a fast read and worth your time.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laura on October 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Don't let the title mislead you. If you are a Christian, it is easy to think that a book like this would be cheapening your faith, but you couldn't be farther from the truth. If you are not a Christian, but you are curious about faith or think you believe in God or know you believe in Jesus but don't really live it, this book is for you. United Methodist pastor Martin Thielen writes this book to the seeker, but there is much of value in here to remind us all of the foundations of our faith and what really matters in the life of a Christian.

The book is divided into two sections. The first section tackles some sensitive subjects that non-Christians often list as their reasons for not being a Christian. Things like the role of science and women, care for the environment, homosexuality, and the overall judgment people feel from Christians. Thielen reassures readers that you do not need to tow the line of self-righteous conservative Christians in order to be a Christian. He gives fair assessments of the range of ideas that Christians hold on these issues with biblical support for moderate, mainline positions.

The second half of the book is the most important, uplifting, and undeniable part of the book, and it cuts right to the heart of the glory of Jesus Christ. Thielen lists ten things that all Christians do need to believe - that Jesus is the Son of God, that relationships are His priority, that we are accepted as His children, that He uses people for His work, that true fulfillment comes from service, that He is with us in our suffering, that there is hope, that we need church, that the Holy Spirit is with us, that we strive to bring His kingdom to the world, and just what it means to be saved. These chapters are touching, encouraging, reassuring, and convicting.
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28 of 40 people found the following review helpful By K.K.Bay on February 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Thielen, a Methodist minister, pens a very readable, entertaining, and thought-provoking tome in What's The Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Don't be put off by the title; Dr. Thielen explains why he used the title in the first few pages.

As a Christian who is put off both by the far-right's take on what Christianity is and the concept of bible inerrancy (a relatively new concept according to Thielen), this book reinforced what I already believed: that, as a Christian, I don't have to dislike gays or believers of other faiths, I don't have to take every syllable of the Bible literally, etc. But this is only half of the book; the rest is devoted to what Christians do need to believe in.

I'm currently reading this through a second time and highly recommend you pick up this wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
The author, Rev.Martin Thielen,a Methodist Minister,provides answers to questions about faith, the Bible and Jesus and other areas of Christianity that have caused problems of understanding for Christians. Some of these ideas are: Many people have doubts that make it difficult to have faith but the author indicates doubt is not the enemy of faith but part of faith. There lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds..The Bible says in Mark 9:24 "Lord,I believe;help my unbelief"

The Bible is inspired by God but written by humans as they understood the world at the time they wrote it. You don't have to interpret everything literally. The Bible is inspired by God but people not God, wrote the Bible. The Bible is both human and divine We must always take the Bible seriously,we don't always have to take it literally. The Bible points us to God but the Bible is not God.

At some point in life, every person needs to grapple with the question of Jesus' identity and what we believe about Jesus.
We cannot defer the question to our parents,the clergy or to our church.

These ideas and many more come from the this book. I found it very helpful.
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