Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Quit Going to Church by Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler's "Quit Going to Church" isn't so much about what's wrong with modern churches as it is about what's wrong with the way modern Christians live their lives. Hostetler starts by explaining that we need to stop attending church in a routine manner and start being the church in our actions and hearts. The rest of his book deals with how exactly we can do that.

Hostetler's chapters focus on:
  • Quitting prayer and making a habit of keeping company with God
  • Quitting reading the Bible and using the Bible to relate to God
  • Ending the sharing of your faith and starting the sharing of your life
  • Spending less time focusing on the ten percent tithe and more time realizing that everything you have belongs to God
  • Discontinuing in heartless volunteer jobs and using your gifts for God's glory
  • Putting a stop to judgment of the poor and instead spending time with the poor
  • Stopping niceties and being real instead
  • Quitting fellowship activities and starting parties
  • Giving up on being good and instead dwelling in God's presence
  • Denying enjoyment of worship and focusing your worship on God's happiness
  • Quitting our worries about doing God's will and instead taking risks
Hostetler provides insights that aren't necessarily mind-blowing, but that are enough to inspire Christians to action. Although I had a few objections to some of his thoughts. Hostetler's comments on the need for worship to focus less on styling that pleases us and more on God are truthful, but his insistence that all worship should be joyful (implication - charismatic) ignores the fact that there are different times appropriate for different kinds of worship, and that some people are more reflective in their worship. And Just because someone does not display outer joy does not mean they do not have inner joy. 

As I read Hostetler's writing, I worried that the book would take on an "everyone needs to be a missionary" attitude. Hostetler makes it clear that we all have different gifts to be used for God's glory in different ways, but in certain chapters his suggestions seem to go against this by implying that every Christian should do dramatic things like spending more time with the homeless. I'm pretty sure that Hostetler did not mean to convey that extreme an idea, but there was enough to intimidate me, whose gifts seem to be more in words than in action. 

So, overall, I found this book surprising and inspiring, but it was not without its quirks.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Searchers by Joseph Laconte

Joseph Laconte's "The Searcher" is full of interesting information that would likely provide wonderful insights if only it had more room - perhaps if each chapter received its own book. Laconte's background and expertise as a history professor shows, as he includes numerous historical and cultural stories for context. Unfortunately, those stories and Laconte's explanations have little to do with the one story his book claims to be all about, that of the Road to Emmaus, which is found in Luke 24.

Laconte uses pieces of the Emmaus story to launch into specific topics that actually don't shed any light on the Luke 24 passage. For example, Laconte uses the travelers' mention of the Pharisees' actions to discuss the various evils that have been committed in Christ's name, such as the Spanish Inquisition. Another chapter uses the travelers' story (which tells of the women being greeted by angels at Jesus' grave) to discuss our modern perceptions of angels and what angels really are like. Laconte provides lots of interesting information, but only toward the end of his book does her really, finally spend a good amount of time talking about the actual Emmaus story and what readers can learn from it.

"The Searchers" contains plenty of interesting tidbits of information, but leaves readers "searching" for insights on the Luke 24 Road to Emmaus story - an element of Laconte's book that is surprisingly missing.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review of it.