Chapter 2 presents some of the research findings about the perceptions of outsiders toward believers (the terms “evangelicals” and “born again Christians” are used), and breaks down the rest of the book on the lines of six general themes: hypocritical, too concerned with converts, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental.
- “The primary reason outsiders feel hostile towards Christians…is our “swagger”, how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project.” ~Page 26
Reflecting on this quote is a good exercise for me…the Gospel has no reason for pride whatsoever. To have an inflated sense of self-importance is to completely misunderstand the Gospel of grace.
- “We have become famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for” ~Page 26
This quote points at the departure of the church from the Gospel toward cultural battles. I do not think that this quote tells the whole story, and one must only look to the first chapters of Revelation to understand that cultural engagement is indeed necessary for faithfulness to the mission of God, and we will necessarily become known in some cases for what we oppose. It is the supercession of religious activism over the core message of the Gospel which will get us into trouble…
- The book presents a finding that a significant portion of young people within the church share a similar viewpoint as those outside the church along the six themes presented above. The insinuation of the authors is that much of the Christian message about absolute truth has been heard, but the message of grace has been lost.
In my experience in the church, I would say that the opposite is true. Much of the deficiency in ministries has been the lack in-depth instruction on the biblical Gospel, especially with respect to college ministry. Most of our students hunger and thirst for Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, challenging truths which demand their very lives. The answer, in my experience, to what the authors deem “unChristian”, is passionate exposition of Scripture and faithful discipleship to a life of sacrifice. I am curious to read more…
As a former scientist who recently made the leap into pastoral ministry, I am always thankful for rigorous research and the numbers this books presents. Many of the conclusions in Chapter 2 I hope are expounded on later in the book with their statistical backing, expecially assertions like that in #1 above.