A while back, blogging friend, co-worker, and colleague, Alan Knox, from “theassemblingofthechurch” posted on his blog about a program at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing called “Blogging for Books”. I signed up and I received first book last week. It was a very intriguing, yet challenging book by Gabe Lyons entitled The Next Christians: How a New Generation is Restoring the Faith.
The book was released on Oct 5, 2010. On Amazon.com, you can read the first chapter for free.
In The Next Christians, Lyons follows up on his previous co-authored work unChristian. Basic to both books is demographic research which shows that the younger generations hold a very negative image of Christianity, so much so, that though raised in a Christian home, he no longer wanted to call himself Christian. Some readers may find that shocking, but through a compelling narrative, Lyons argues that Christians have not been characterized by the gospel of Jesus, nor God’s love, but by abrasive, insensitive, and somewhat intolerant cultural battling. The Next Christians is his response to that perception. In this response, he shows how there is a new generation of believers who because of their understanding of the grand biblical narrative have chosen to live counter-culturally as restorers of the way things “ought” to be. So, that’s his basic argument.
Personally, I found the book both intriguing and challenging. I was intrigued by the subject matter. Its shocking to find out that others may think very badly of you, not just because you are a Christian, well, but because you are a Christian. In other words, its not because one follows Christ that they are being rejected, but because being called a Christian carries with it a lot of cultural baggage. Furthermore, he challenges the approach toward culture that previous generations have taken. For instance, he questions the separatist motif, which seek to withdraw from culture (as if it were possible) and resign to either indifference or politicking. Surprisingly, he also rebukes cultural Christianity which seeks to blend in or even syncretize the broader cultural milieu. These subjects are intriguing to me. I think these subjects need attention in every Christian circle. But my favorite part of the book was his call for Christians to return to the grand biblical narrative as the foundation for the gospel, and for Christian interaction with culture. I don’t know yet if I can go as far as he does with the “restoration” motif, but I believe Lyons is one of many who are rediscovering the Bible as a unitary whole, as story which gives meaning to all stories. Much more on this could be said, but read the book to find out more.
I also found it challenging, and that, in the negative sense. It angered me at times. I think he is presenting a straw man argument concerning the approaches to culture from “older” generations. Based on how he presented them, I can think of few who would want to be a part of them (even if they already are!). Furthermore, there is a background “elitism” to the whole behind the concept of a category of “next Christians”. Thus, he struggles to embrace those who are not cultural elites of some sort. What of the stay at home mom? What of the garbage collector? I would love to see Lyons’ viewpoint broadened a little.
Still, this book is a good read, and I recommend it. I have lots more I could say on the positive side, and more on the negative, but regarding The Next Christians, you have read enough of my opinion, now its time to read Lyons’.
Let me know what you think about this book, once you read it. And let me know what you think of this review. Click the image below to rank my post!
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.