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How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living Hardcover – May 1, 2018
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“I love the Babylon Bee, whose authors are the Jonathan Swift of our era. I’m rarely sure whether to laugh or cry. The only time I wasn’t giggling in this book was when I was wincing from a well-placed poke. What makes their stuff my favorite, however, is that it never degrades into cynical. It’s clear that behind their snarky humor is something they genuinely love: the church.”
—J. D. Greear, author of Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved
“Forget love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! Perfection is so much better than the fruit of the Spirit. And, as the Babylon Bee’s How to Be a Perfect Christian shows, it’s a lot easier too.”
—Karen Swallow Prior, author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer Abolitionist
About the Author
The Babylon Bee is the most popular Christian satire website, with more than 300,000 Facebook fans, and over 70,000 visitors to the website daily. They are a trusted voice in humor across a wide range of modern Christians.
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In all seriousness, I started reading the Kindle edition of this book very early this morning and haven't been able to put it down. Of all comedy books I've read in the past, I have had as many laugh-out-loud moments as I've had with this book. Granted, I do feel like you have to have a fair amount of experience in the church to really embrace all the great humor of the book, but having attended a Christian university and having a lot of pastor friends, I know a lot of people will get a kick out of this book. Just like the other review states, it also does provide a biting commentary on cultural Christianity today under the easy-to-swallow guise of humor.
Overall, this was the easiest 5 star review I've ever had to give. I've already texted a number of my pastor friends to check it out, so if you're on the fence about it, put your doubts to rest and get it now.
It bursts with fun facts I didn't know that the King James Version was the original Bible, and that it has finally been translated into ancient Aramaic and Hebrew so that unchurched folks who speak those languages can finally read the Word, as it was meant to be read. Let's all pray on that!
The only flaw is that you need to grasp you Kindle firmly while reading, because you will be shaking with laughter and might drop and break it. Don't let an accident like that impede your climb to spiritual perfection. It's lonely up here.
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The Babylon Bee has brought me great joy for the past couple of years, and their first book did not disappoint. J.D. Greear, blurbed in the front of the book, says the Babylon Bee’s authors “are the Jonathan Swift of our era”. I don’t think he’s wrong.
“How to Be a Perfect Christian” is written in the style of a self-help book that walks you through the steps to perfection. What it actually becomes, however, is a critique of Christian culture that is laugh-out-loud funny one minute and then a soft “ooooh” the next as you realize a joke hit a little too close to home. The chapter topics run the gamut of American Christianity from “Joining the Right Church” and “Looking Really Spiritual Online” to “Quarantining Your Home From the Worldly Wastelands” and “Fighting on the Front Lines of the Culture War”. The Babylon Bee pokes fun at so many different types of Christians that it almost feels wrong to laugh so hard until one line is well-placed enough that you realize you’re looking in the mirror. For instance:
"It’s very important that all fights taking place inside the family car cease before you enter the parking lot. You’re at church now, for heaven’s sake. It’s imperative to act like Christians whenever you’re in the field of vision of other churchgoers. Any conflicts can resume the moment you leave the parking lot after the service."
I mean, raise your hand if you’ve been there. (But not too high, or else someone may realize you’re not perfect.)
When you cut through the satire, the authors have important points to make about cultural Christianity and where it leads. The quest for self-improvement and even perfection makes Christians weak, unhappy, and doing nothing of good for the Kingdom. If you try to become good by your own power, you might gain notoriety from the outside world, but it will make no difference to God’s view of you. You either are purchased by Christ or you are not.
Cultural Christianity hurts our witness as well, something made abundantly clear in the chapter “Fighting on the Front Lines of the Culture War” and something that I see more and more from Christians. Here is a taste:
"The best way to engage in conversation with those of opposing worldviews is to misrepresent their positions using a hilarious meme or graphic, and then plaster it all over the Internet … If you later discover that you shared something untrue, never retract your post. Stay strong. The goal of crushing liberalism justifies the means of sharing inaccurate material."
"The most important thing you can remember as you bravely head off to the front lines to fight for Jesus in the culture wars is this: You are always being persecuted. If your local Walmart stocks even one card that says “Happy Holidays!” or “Season’s Greeting!” during the Christmas season, you are being persecuted … The slightest offense, the most inane comment, the briefest glance of disapproval — each of these is an assault on your Christian liberties."
One might imagine based on this review that a legitimate response to this book might be withdrawing from the church and all its failings. It is clear, however, that through all the jokes and veiled criticisms the writers at The Babylon Bee love Christians and especially love the church. They are part of the family that is being lovingly prodded into action.
Here is the crux of the message The Babylon Bee brings with How to Be a Perfect Christian: Yes, the church is messed up. But that’s the thing. We can’t improve by our own power. One of the funniest and most depressing (apparently these two can pair well) passages in the whole book is at the end when you have achieved perfection (because of course you did when you finished the book):
"Now that you’re perfect, you might think your job is done. But it’s not. Your work is just beginning. You must maintain the illusion of holiness for the rest of your life. Stumble once, and you run the risk of watching your whole house of cards come tumbling down. The slightest flaw can send you back to square one, forcing you to climb the ladder again as you sing DC Talk songs and watch eight Rapture movies a day to begin your penance."
That doesn’t sound like the life I want to lead. The life where Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe…THAT sounds like a life. That is what How to Be a Perfect Christian is about. It is at the same time 1) entertainment and 2) a call away from cultural Christianity and into the true gospel.
I received this book as an eARC courtesy of Multnomah and NetGalley, but my opinions are my own.
Most recent customer reviews
I'm pretty sure my introduction to the concept of satire came from the works of "Jovial" Bob Stine...Read more
Okay, let’s just say that this book is a little sarcastic.Read more