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Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You're Irrelevant and Extreme Hardcover – March 1, 2016
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From the Inside Flap
It is easy to feel overwhelmed as we try to live faithfully in a culture that seems increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. With a growing backlash against religion and people of faith, it's harder than ever to hold onto our convictions while treating friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family members who disagree with respect and compassion.
Based on groundbreaking research, this timely book by the bestselling authors of unChristian explores politics, sexuality, race, gender, and religious freedom, helping you:
· respond with compassion, clarity and confidence to the most toxic issues of our day
· discover the most significant cultural trends that are creating both obstacles and opportunities for Christians
· know what you believe and why it doesn't make you a judgmental or extreme person
· stop being afraid to talk about what you believe and start having meaningful conversations about tough issues
· understand the heart behind opposing views and learn how to stay friends across differences|David Kinnaman is author of unChristian and You Lost Me. He is president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services. Since 1995, David has directed interviews with nearly one million individuals and overseen hundreds of U.S. and global research studies. He and his wife live in California with their three children.
Gabe Lyons is author of unChristian and The Next Christians. He is the founder of Q, a learning community that educates and mobilizes Christians to think well and advance good in society. Called "sophisticated and orthodox" by The New York Times, Q represents the perspective of a new generation of Christians. Gabe speaks on cultural issues where faith intersects public life. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Rebekah, and their three children.
From the Back Cover
You are no longer part of the majority.
Your response will shape the future of Christianity in America.
"Good Faith is a wise and accessible guide to 'being a Christian in the public square' today."--Tim Keller, author and pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church
"I love this book. It is a timely reminder that Christians don't have to conform in order to survive."--Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love and You and Me Forever
"Kinnaman and Lyons are second to none. Unrelenting in its research, compelling in its humility, powerful in its approach, Good Faith is a landmark and thought-provoking read."--Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts and A Holy Experience
"This prophetic book inspired me to rethink my own assumptions about how to live faithfully in our American exile."--Rod Dreher, journalist and author of the forthcoming The Benedict Option
"As the issues of our day threaten to divide the church, we must lean in with wisdom and truth while loving with abandon and grace. Gabe and David are leading the way, and help us faithfully navigate the new terrain."--Jennie Allen, author and founder of the IF:Gathering
"Good Faith speaks prophetically to the church by diagnosing our condition and prescribing a course of powerful treatment."--Christine Caine, author and founder of A21 Campaign
"Kinnaman and Lyons turn down the temp and offer leaders a box of cultural engagement tools to use and pass on to our churches. Every pastor and leadership team should read Good Faith."--Mark Batterson, author and pastor, National Community Church
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Something else concerns me too, though. After the first hearing, a woman from the LGBT community approached the huddle of lawyers I was talking to, politely interrupted us, and made the following statement: “I need to tell you gentlemen something,” she said. “If you had lived the life I have lived, you wouldn’t think the way you do.” Then she walked away. None of us knew how to respond, or whether she wanted us to respond, so we said nothing. Even deeper than my worry about tectonic shifts in legal norms is my worry that the Church is missing the opportunity to share Christ’s good news with people whose experience is so contrary—alien, even—to our own. I confess that I missed a chance that day.
Jesus Christ commissioned His followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). While we might prefer to carry out the Great Commission in a society that provides robust protections to our religious freedom, the fact of the matter is that we are under the Lord’s orders whether or not the law protects us or our society approves of us. And let’s be honest, a large chunk of American society is moving in a direction that is not favorable to Christian faith and practice.
David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ first co-authored book was unChristian, which examined how unbelieving Millennials viewed Christianity. The portrait they painted was not flattering. According to their research, unbelieving Millennials viewed Christians as hypocritical, anti-science, too focused on conversion, anti-gay, sheltered, too political, and judgmental. Their negative view of Christians is more than a PR problem, of course. It is a missional problem. How do we “make disciples of all nations” when the nations view us as irrelevant at best or extreme at worst?
Good Faith outlines Kinnaman and Lyons’ answer to that question. Kinnaman is president of the Barna Group, “a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services.” Lyons is founder of Q, “a learning community that educates and mobilizes Christians to think well and advance good in society.” Based on their research and biblical reflection, they identify three ingredients that must characterize the Church’s mission in contemporary America:
How well we love + What we believe + How we live = Good Faith
Stated as one-word imperatives, these elements are love, believe, and live. Each imperative must be fulfilled for good faith to be present. In other words, we can’t reduce Christianity to what some have called orthopathy (right affections, love) or orthodoxy (right doctrine, believe) or orthopraxy (right behavior, live). Good faith consists of the three imperatives acting in tandem at all times. Stated so simply, the need for these imperatives is obvious. And yet, how difficult we find it to put them all into practice.
Take my encounter with the woman after the legislative hearing, for example. I know what I believe regarding both religious freedom specifically and LGBT issues more generally. I’d like to think that I translate those beliefs into moral behavior on a day-to-day basis. But, if I’m honest, I find it easier to explain and defend my beliefs than to love the person on the other side of those issues. Kinnaman and Lyons write something that I need to take to heart: “There is a world of difference between confidently asserting what we believe and being aggressive in faith-driven ‘beast mode.” I hope I never go into beast mode on any issue—through I constantly feel the temptation on issues about which I have strong opinions. Still, I wonder: Am I like the Ephesian church which had “biblical orthodoxy” nailed down tight but had “forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:6)? Am I cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, which is love (Galatians 5:22)? Other Christians may struggle with understanding and defending biblical orthodoxy or with putting their faith into action. Regardless of which of the three imperatives you do best (and which worst), the point is to keep them all together.
Kinnaman and Lyons apply the love-believe-live formula to a host of issues. In the final chapter, they sum up the point of the entire book by writing: “The Christian community is called to be a counterculture for the common good. We are countercultural when we…”
• love others well
• remain committed to orthodox beliefs
• make space for those who disagree
• stand out from the crowd
• ask the right questions
• live under God’s moral order
• offer a vision of human intimacy beyond sex
• practice hospitality
• do the good, hard work of racial reconciliation
• value human life in every form, at every stage
• love our gay friends and trust God’s design for sex
• build households of faith
• are theologically grounded and culturally responsive
• make disciples
• practice the sacred art of seeing people
• make disciples and faith communities that are Christlike.
Good Faith is a good book. For someone like me who is worried about the culture but more concerned about the Church bearing witness to Jesus in the midst of it, the book provides diagnostic criteria and a checklist for self-examination. On any issue, do I love the person on the other side of the issue? Do I know what biblical orthodoxy actually requires of me? Do I live my Christianity in an authentic and attractive way? If I cannot answer “yes” to each of these questions, I have work to do. And so, it seems to me, does the American church.
P.S. This review first appeared at InfluenceMagazine[dot]com.
Strengths: The research from Barna that is very deep and revealing. The constant note of love and grace that are just as important as truth and orthodoxy. The breadth of issues covered.
Weaknesses: The only weakness, if that's even fair, is the brevity of some issues discussed. Of course one could write a whole book on engaging any particular issue, but I would have liked to have seen an appendix with recommended reading on each topic (racial justice, LGBT people, contextual church ministry, etc.).
But overall this is an excellent book that has been published at the perfect time for our cultural moment in America.