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Fearless Faith: Living Beyond the Walls of Safe Christianity Paperback – January 1, 2002
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About the Author
John Fischer has been mixing his unique combination of singing, speaking, and humor for a variety of audiences for more than thirty years. A bestselling writer, John is the author of Fearless Faith, 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (Like Me), Real Christians Don't Dance, and the award-winning Saint Ben. Fischer graduated from Wheaton College and later served as Artist in Residence at Gordon College in Massachusetts.
Top customer reviews
"The moral vacuum in our country is not the fault of America nor is America our hope for improvement. Democracy is merely doing its job, as it always will. There is no 'Christian nation' to recapture; there are only the hearts of people that have to change. Politics may change a few laws, but using politics to try and change a heart is like trying to perform heart surgery with a baseball bat. The true church is the only body in society that deals effectively and eternally with the hearts of people. This is why it is so tragic when Christians resort to political power and economic pressure to force a change on society, a change that can truly come only from a heart that is changed. By so resorting, we abandon our calling and our privilege as living representations of the one true God who provided a way back to himself through the death and resurrection of his one and only son. We become just like any other special interest group in society, such as the National Rifle Association or the National Education Association -- one more voice among the many. And in doing so, we alienate ourselves from the very people whose hearts the gospel could change if those people could only hear the gospel above the noise of our shouting. Who is going to want to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ from a group that is forcing its own special interests on them?"
I am currently reading Fischer' s book "12Steps for the Recovering Pharisee" and I am finding it quite helpful, so please understand that I don't have anything against the author.
Having said that let me also acknowledge that I agree with the premise. Too many Christians, perhaps out of fear of losing their faith or otherwise being tainted, avoid being in the world. Moreover, American Christianity can be so conservative that it has become stale and often dismisses the very dynamism that knowing Christ ought to produce. What I disagree with is the means. For example,
Fischer bemoans the fact that Christianity has become a subculture or a spiritual microclimate. He then states,
"I suppose you could say it's nice to be recognized in a mainstream cultural analysis, but on the other hand, I'm not so sure this is the kind of attention we want. In this case, being a Christian makes you one of seven marketing targets, not an identity that Jesus had in mind when he formed his kingdom on earth. In other words we are differentiated from the rest of society, not by our faith, but by our tastes, values, and buying habits."
Sure, I would agree that to the extent Christians succumb to materialism is to the extent Christians become targets of marketing. However, I do not see how Christians can separate faith, tastes, values, and buying habits. That is, authentic faith should affect and even dictate our tastes, values, and buying habits. Moreover, Fischer seems to imply that Christians, by becoming a microclimate, lose their ability to witness. I say it is not always about witnessing but about being a witness. Even a blaspheming executive marketing to Christians understands that the product must meet certain criteria. For example, the truly Christian market will not tolerate certain language or images. That consideration IS a witness. That is the Church BEING a witness, a city on a hill.
Fischer then gives the "Truck World Family Restaurant" example. Truck stops used to be grimy places with bad food, dirty bathrooms, and adult magazines at the checkout counter. "Well, welcome to Truck World Family Restaurant--an oxymoron at best--where you can get a rag doll, a homey wall plaque...Wholesome family videos have replaced the R-rated fare." A little later he writes, "It almost seemed like some kind of Christian takeover of the trucking world by the grandmothers of America." Finally, he writes, "And what could possibly be wrong with wholesome values? I can think of a few things. If wholesome values have replaced the gospel as that which identifies Christians as being Christian, that would not be good. The gospel requires a sinful world in which to function. It is meaningless without it. Ridding the world of sinful influences does not make people any less sinful. It might only be driving sin underground."
Fair enough. I realize changing the environment does not change the heart. However, I still do not see the problem here. Suppose the owner of the truck stop was regenerated, born again? Will the external environment not change to reflect the internal change? Is the truck stop owner going to leave the R-rate magazines and videos on the shelf just to appease judgmental Christians only to be attacked by judgmental Christians? Seems like a damned if you do, damned if you don't predicament to me. Fischer writes, "Sweet-smelling truckers with teddy bears under their arms don't need the grace of God." Ah, but did it ever occur to Fischer that the teddy bear toting trucker may be sweet-smelling BECAUSE of the grace of God? Redeemed people redeem their surroundings. Personally, I think it says something that a mother driving alone with her children knows she can safely pull into a Christian-owned truck stop. Again, it may be indirect but it is still a witness.
The final straw for me was the fictitious award speech. Fischer writes,
"Just once, I would love to see someone get up to receive an award on one of these shows and say something like: 'I know you are probably expecting me to give God the glory for this award tonight, but I'm not so sure he wants any part of this. In fact, it occurs to me as I stand here, that God may not have had anything to do with this award at all. It wasn't God who came up with a great production, it was my producer. It wasn't God who made me famous, it was my marketing company. It isn't God who made me famous, it was my marketing company. It isn't God who is even remotely interested in my popularity, it's my manager....And now if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back home to my life as it really is--and to tell you the truth, that life needs a bit of attention right now. You see, I've sacrificed my family for this award, and I need to get home and make sure I still have a family.' Wouldn't that be refreshing? Fearless and refreshing."
No, I would not find that refreshing. I would think such a person had an enormous emotional problem or chip on their shoulder and should have stayed at home rather than venting it on an unsuspecting audience. If God had nothing to do with it then why did you engage in the activity to begin with? And if you came to the realization too late then why burden everybody else with that realization? Maybe the producer, marketer, and manager are gifted. Maybe the recipient, recognizing that every good gift comes from God, could acknowledge those gifts and talents and what they have done for him. Perhaps he could show some gratitude instead of being a sulking, religious killjoy. At the very least, make sure you speak the truth in an edifying and loving manner.
So in conclusion I repeat: I concur with the general premise but found the execution so unbearable that I refused to persevere. In fact, I suspect I may regret giving two stars instead of one. Your mileage may vary.