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Not a Fan of "Not a Fan",
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This review is from: Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus (Paperback)
Our Bible study group was looking for another book we could go through together. Our study group is comprised of parents of teens and the intent of the group is to find ways to raise more Godly young men and women and become more adept Christian parents. We decided to take a break from overt parental study and go through a book that would develop us each spiritually. Since our church youth pastor highly recommended this book, we each bought one and got started.
When I downloaded the Kindle version of "Not a Fan," I quickly scanned through the Amazon reviews and noted the preponderance of positive reviews. Even the less enthusiastic reviews were positive. One 3-star reviewer's only criticism of the work was that the author did not advocate a more radical approach to Christianity.
I was raised in a very legalistic Christian denomination and now have a finely tuned antenna for calls to legalism. As I read through the book and we discussed it, I understood and resonated to the call for a deeper commitment to Christ. But I became more and more concerned with the underlying message of the book. For about the first 8 chapters or so, I kept hoping that the author was simply calling the Body of Christ to a deeper commitment. But the author finally clarified that when he is talking about his definition of "follower" or "fan" he is really talking about "saved" or "lost." From my reading of his book, the author believes and attempts to make the case that while there may be a large population of people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, only the most radical and extreme are truly "Christian" and are therefore saved. Throughout the book, he gives examples of people who fit his definition of extreme Christianity, though to me some of the examples were fairly prosaic. In his view, continually expressed throughout the book, (despite his caveats to the contrary) it appears that one's actions (works) are the gauge of one's salvation, not acceptance of Christ as one's Savior.
Of course, the terms "radical" and "extreme" are, by definition, relative and vary based on any defined population group. I remember reading about a group of "radical" Christians who, to help fulfill an obscure prophecy regarding the return of Christ, are engaged in trying to breed a cow to carry an umblemished red calf. Since it must be born in Israel, they have been trying to figure out a way that they could first breed such a calf, and then smuggle the cow into Israel so the calf can be born there and thereby hasten the return of Christ. Are those actions radical enough to qualify to be saved? Of course that's crazy, but I'm using hyperbole to make a point. What exactly is extreme? How extreme does one "need to be" to be saved?
I spent some time in Scotland where only about 5% of the population attends Christian services. Why? After hundreds of years of wars waged in Scotland between Christians of different denominations, Christianity has largely been rejected. These were radical, extreme Christians who fought the wars against each other. They profoundly believed they were right and the other denomination was wrong and were willing to die for those beliefs. The point is, a call to "Extremist Christianity" without a clear idea of what is defined as being extreme, with the underlying message that if you aren't extreme enough in what you "do", you aren't really saved does not strike me as a helpful Christian message.
In my opinion, the book's message works to tear down the Body of Christ, not build it up. It causes believers to judge others as not commited enough and therefore lost. "Oh, I see that you are only a fan of Christ, not a true follower like me because you don't do (insert your personal belief here)" Time after time throughout the book, it calls on follower's of Christ to question their personal salvation in a kind of smart-alecky "ha-ha bet you aren't REALLY a follower" way; to question whether they are "only" a "fan" and not saved, or if they are a "true follower" who will be saved. This is a corrosive message to anyone's assurance of salvation.
Since terms like "extreme" and "radical" are relative, people who accept the core premise of the book can never know if they are "committed" enough to be saved. That is antithetical to my understanding of the Good News of Salvation and the assurance that Christians can have through faith in Christ's robe of righteousness that covers them.
The good news of the Gospel is fairly simple and I praise God for it! I received such a blessing from the book "Gracewalk" that I plan on reading it again after studying this book.
Our society today is polarized and continues to become more polarizing. Perhaps that helps explain the positive responses that many Christians seem to have with this book. I must note that the majority of our study group found "Not a Fan" to be beneficial and did not have the reaction to the content that I had.
By the way, there is an interesting circular logic to books like this that attempt to brand one group as something inferior and another group as superior. And you don't get more inferior/superior than lost/saved (fan/follower). Anyone who criticises the premise or content is automatically suspect and assigned to the inferior group by definition.
No, I'm not a fan of "Not a Fan."
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Showing 1-10 of 118 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 31, 2011 6:49:43 AM PDT
V. Barr says:
Contrary to certain comments, I don't think this book talks at all about our "works" for our salvation, but sincerely speaks to the heart of all believers about getting serious about their walk with Jesus. If you love the Lord, you gladly "work" for him. We have all been given gifts, unfortunately, many are not using them. I think this books asks Christians to look at themselves, not others.....it's what we do with our own walk. It's time for Christians to get out of their pews and into their communities and work for God's Kingdom. We are to be Jesus to others....an imitator of Christ....Ask yourself WWJD? (What would Jesus Do)
Posted on Nov 2, 2011 1:20:05 PM PDT
Scott A. Smith says:
The idea that this book promotes legalism is absolutely false, it is not legalism that we must expect to see change in lives that claim Christ as their savior. You wrote "In his view, continually expressed throughout the book, (despite his caveats to the contrary) it appears that one's actions (works) are the gauge of one's salvation, not acceptance of Christ as one's Savior." I fail to understand you problem with that statement, our lives, our works are that which gauge one's salvation, not a one time acknowledgment of Christ. Jesus Himself clearly taught this;
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." John 14:15,
"Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." John 14:23-24
"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." John 15:10
Also very clearly in the Epistles for instance
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."[d]And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:14-26
The idea that one can make a one time affirmation of Christ and then be secure for eternity regardless of the life led is absent in Scripture. This is not teaching that we earn our salvation in any way, but that a life created new in Christ Jesus must be witnessed by change in that life, this is sanctification.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 12:09:38 PM PST
Well put Scott! We must return to "Biblical Christianity" and shed this modern day, American gospel nonsense that dilutes the true gospel of its power and lulls people into a false sense of security. Yes, we must guard against "Legalism", but calling believers to Holiness, Purity, and submission to Christ in all things is anything but.
Our "Flesh" loves the message that we can simply pray a prayer, be saved and God's grace will cover over all our faults, failures, and sins that we fall into, while still living for ourselves. We can ignore the fact that God's word warns us over and over that our hearts are deceitful above all else, that our hearts can be hardened by sin, that there is a way that "seems" right to a man, but in the end leads to death. We need not worry about the countless passages describing what a "True" believers life should look like or warnings from books like I John that clearly describe how "Children of God's" lives should look, because I can pull out the trump card .....GRACE. Grace is a beautiful doctrine when understood biblically, but it has been so distorted and cheapened to the point that many no longer know its true meaning, value, and limitations.
The idea that we can have Jesus as "Savior" and live how we choose (under Grace) is preposterous; this is an insult to Jesus who gave Himself freely for us. Cor 5:15 says that, "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again". Jesus never offered us the option of only "Accepting him as Savior", unless we also surrender to Him as Lord. Rom 14:7-9 states, "For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living".
That is ultimately the question we all have to ask ourselves, not "Is Christ my personal Savior", but "Is Christ Lord of my life"? If He is Lord, He is also Savior!
Posted on Nov 17, 2011 7:52:29 AM PST
W. S. Jones says:
Great review! Thanks, S. Lloyd for writing it. I think there is very little of grace in the other responses to your views. Also from the Gospel of John - "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (6:29)
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2011 6:37:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2011 6:40:32 PM PST
Scott A. Smith says:
Are you suggesting that grace is a license to sin? If so you are treading in already condemned waters. (Romans 6:15) Yes the "work of God" is that we believe in Christ. That does not nullify the need of the fruit or evidence of that life which has trusted in Christ and is being conformed into His likeness.
Posted on Dec 2, 2011 9:55:03 AM PST
Miranda Cappa says:
I thank you so much for this review. I was about 4 days into this 42 day study when I started reading further in and was alarmed at the message. Saved by works, what has your relationship cost you, what do you do to deserve Salvation? Instead of Saved by Christ, what your relationship with Christ cost HIM, and even tho we are not deserving Salvation is still available.
At one point the book asks you to make an altar to Jesus and actually bow before it. This is depicted as the right thing to do, rather than worship the idols in your life. It's a sneaky way to make sense of a very dangerous thing to do.
I talked it over with my Grandpa who is a Pastor. He told me that the visualization techniques in the book are very helpful for some, even I found them to be hokey. But the more serious problem was the subtle suggestions that are not biblical thru out this book.
My final statement is that Satan has access to and knows the Bible better than any human alive. I believe he would be able to twist it for his purpose. And I believe he is using this book to fool Christians. The Truth is that Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sin free life, and died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. We are all sinners and needed HIS grace. Any one who believes on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is saved and no amount of works will affirm or reject that salvation. We didn't DO anything to earn it in the first place. Salvation is freely given.
I believe "Not a fan" is a dangerous and very scary book.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2011 10:18:20 AM PST
A heartfelt thank you "Glastarguy" and Miranda for showing Biblical discernment, and your love for His true truth. We live in a time where many are deceived by the "angel of light" disguises. In humbleness (as have been done) this has to be pointed out. Also we need to earnestly pray for those who are being led astray.
Posted on Dec 28, 2011 12:55:51 PM PST
I really appreciate this individual's review. I began reading this book a couple nights ago. I also started reading the gospel of John at the same time. I must say that the message of not a fan doesn't fit real well with Jesus' teachings in John. I think Mr. Idleman even gets some facts wrong. He mentions in the movie that the word follow is mentioned more than believe. That couldn't be further from the truth. In the esv, in John, believe is used 54 times. Follow is used 10 times and rarely in the sense that not a fan uses it.
This is going to be a big problem in churches. People will- they've been doing it for centuries- attempt to justify themselves on their works. People will be confused about grace. It's the same 'ol story. Only this time lots more people are being deceived. Works matter. Works are important. But works should be the fruit of belief. Radical and not a fan are both a little short in the saved by grace through faith department.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2012 7:38:09 AM PST
Try Reading Matthew 7 and see how it lines up.
So Many Christians have a totally incomplete soteriology. They take verses like John 6:29 "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." as the be all and end all of what the Bible says about salvation, ignoring the other verses speaking to the topic. The fact is that a mere intellectual ascent to the gospel places you no nearer the redemptive work of Christ than atheism. Indeed, look to the book of James "You believe that God is one, you do well. So do the Demons and they tremble."
The key difference between a Christian and Satan is regeneration, the saving work of God whereby He takes from you your sinful depraved heart of stone and gives you a sin-hating, God loving heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). What Idleman is describing in this book is the signs that the salvific work of God has happened in your life. Indeed, Calvin said it best in his institutes when he stated that the only way we can know if we are saved is is we love God and desire to walk in His statutes.
You are NOT saved by works, but your works demonstrate that you are saved. It is an incredibly important distinction to make.