When Christians Get It Wrong
by Adam Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Christians Get It Wrong / 978-1-426-70914-2
I am not a Christian. In fact, I consider myself to be an ex-Christian, at least in part because of some of the issues that author Hamilton brings up here in this excellent book. And yet, I've read some wonderful material from Christian scholars and pastors, and now I can add Hamilton's book to that category.
Hamilton has set out to catalog and address the issues that most seem to drive young people away from the church today. With scripture in one hand, logical analysis in the other, and with his heart firmly in the right place, he seeks to open a dialogue with older, more established members of the church and with some of the attitudes that are driving young people away.
For the most part, he succeeds admirably. Hamilton's tone is educational and explanatory, but it never feels like he's "talking down" to the audience; instead he seems very interested in always seeing all sides of a controversy. He explains his view of scripture, and why he thinks that disasters aren't God's punishment on people, and why he believes that evolution and Christianity are fully compatible. Throughout all his writing, there's these strong undercurrents of love and acceptance - Hamilton's God is clearly a god of love, and he wants to share it with his readers.
When this book gets it "right" it does so to the sound of my applause; for instance, I'm thrilled that Hamilton understands that to learn and teach others about "other religions", you MUST speak to people in that religion, rather than cribbing the writings of some OTHER Christian who may or may not have gotten it all terribly wrong. When this book stumbles, it at least errs on the side of angels - Hamilton's explanation as to why bad things happen may have as many logical holes as a sieve, but given an illogical explanation with a loving God versus an equally illogical explanation with a hateful God, Hamilton chooses the former and with my blessing.
This book isn't perfect; I was particularly annoyed that the homosexuality chapter had an extra little "disclaimer" to the readers at the beginning to coddle them, when nothing else did - why should a statement like, "Hey, let's be nice to everyone like Jesus said so!" be "more" controversial than, "Hey, we evolved from other lifeforms and that's okay!", but I guess I should trust Hamilton to know his audience and how to best not set them off. At the end of the day, this is a well-reasoned, well-written, and impassioned plea to live a version of Christianity that I heartily approve of, and for that, it gets all my praise.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.
~ Ana Mardoll
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