I just got, and read last night, David Kinnaman’s new book unChrstian.  By far one of the better books I’ve read in long time.

David Kinnaman is president of the Barna Group – a research powerhouse in the areas of faith and culture.  He is assisted in his writing by Gabe Lyons, of the fermi project.

The book’s purpose?  Discover how young Americans think about Christianity.  I know many who would immediately ask "Why should we care?  Jesus was despised!" 

Yes, but Jesus was despised by religious people, not those who considered themselves far from God!  unChristian powerfully communicates how the perception of Christians by the culture shapes our ability to deliver the message of Jesus.  In other words, it matters how believers are perceived.

Now I have only read it once, and this book is worthy of (and requires) at least a couple more readings to process.  I will probably post a series of impressions later… but the following struck me to my core as I read it the first time.  David writes (p29-30):

"Keep in mind the terms and concepts that outsiders throw at us are loaded.  Sometimes, the criticism is meant to push our buttons, but that is not always the case.  These are important issues because often they reflect very real ways in which the Christian community has mistakenly portrayed itself to a skeptical generation.  This books explores our research in six broad themes – the most common points of skepticism and objections raised by outsiders.  Those six themes are as follows:

  1. Hypocritical.  Saying one thing and doing another.
  2. Too focussed on getting converts. Outsiders wonder if we genuinely care about them.
  3. Antihomosexual.  Bigoted and disdainful against gays and lesbians.
  4. Sheltered.  Out of touch with realty…not trends, but reality.
  5. Too political.  Overly motivated by a political agenda and political solutions.
  6. Judgmental.   Too quick to judge, and insincere about our love for others.

When outsiders claim that we are unChristian, it is a reflection of this jumbled and predominately negative set of perceptions.  When they see Christians not acting like Jesus, they quickly conclude that the group deserves an unChristian label.  Like a corrupted computer file or a bad photocopy, Christianity, they say, is no longer in pure form, and so they reject it.  It has gotten off course, they say, and has little to do with what Christ intended.  Modern day Christianity no longer seems Christian."



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