Over the weekend, I picked up a book by an author that many of my Christian friends and even some mentors rave about, and I began to read. This is the first book by this author that I have read, and I was truly excited to finally see what the fuss was all about.
It did not take long before my heart ached. For this? This is no Christian writing.
Now, hear me when I say that this is no Christian writing, for I have not said that this is no Christian author. It may very well be that the author herself very much loves Jesus, very much has given her life to Him, very much puts her hope in Him. But the writing, though it is filled with some Christian-ese, is no Christian writing.
It's hard, on the surface, to tell because it contains so much of what modern liberal Christianity wants Christianity to be about - the kind of inclusiveness that makes Christians seem like postmodernly reasonable people, but that also makes Christ's road seem like the widest one. Christ Himself said this is not true; He is the narrow road.
Because, you see, in just the first fifty pages of this book, it became clear that this writer cannot use the name of Christ without also using the name of Buddha in the same sentence. The idea, of course, is that as long as you have faith in something, you're on the right track to God. The implication being that believing in any kind of spirituality, having any kind of faith, is the same thing as having a saving faith in God. The suggestion being that if you are listening to the wise spiritual teachers, like Jesus or Buddha, then you have truly found favor in God's eyes, and you should be rewarded with all of the good things of Heaven.
It's a very popular idea, but it's not a very Christian one. In fact, it's the kind of thing that theology-hearted individuals like C.S. Lewis have been warning about for a very long time. You cannot simply think that Jesus is a good teacher. He is, but this is only a small part of who He is. He is no mere moral guide. He is not just a great orator. Either He is the Savior of the World or you do not know Him at all; He can be no less. His own testimony of His living will not permit it.
And so what this author has done, essentially, is to water down grace. She is watering down mercy. The whole book, she claims, is about mercy, and she's centered it on a passage in Miach, which she uses only tangentially as the most fragile and almost untouched of threads woven through an ugly, coarse narrative, but more on that later. We cannot believe that we can just throw some Scripture into our discourse and call it Christian.
It is no such thing.
Live and let live. To each their own. Who am I to judge? All roads lead to Heaven. It's a great cultural way to live. It's a very appeasing way to live in a culture where Christianity is not valued as highly as it once was. It's the kind of lifestyle that is very easy to adopt if your Christ is only your Teacher. But it's no Christian ethic.
Not when Christ is your Savior.
This is why it is so important that we are able to discern what is truly Christian teaching from what is cultural fare guised in almost-Christian clothing. This is the kind of message that takes Jesus down from the Cross and never returns to the tomb. This is the kind of lesson that leads young people astray. Because it sounds so agreeable, but it is so far from holy.
I will say more about this book tomorrow because there is quite a bit more that is troubling about it. And this is not - hear me - this is not so that you can get angry about this book or so that you can boycott it or so that you can go on some kind of tirade or social media campaign. Not at all. It is so that you can begin to understand the difference between what is truly Christian teaching and what is not. So that you can begin to discern for yourself if what you're putting into your heart and mind is truly Christian or if it's not. So that you can honestly know whether the road you're walking is the narrow road to Christ or the wide road of culture that claims that you can just scoot Him over a little and bring Him down this path with you. Christ doesn't work that way.
If we insist on walking down the wide road, even the wide road that so-called Christian writings claim to pave for us, then this...this is where we leave Him.