Huh. In looking for an image to use for this post, I found out that “Christian Atheism” is actually a religious movement. Interesting read… but not the great read I came to share 🙂
Instead, The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel was one of those books I had on my list for years but never quite got around to. I’m glad I finally did.
“God, please don’t send me to Hell. Amen times amen.”
This was the prayer learned by a young boy who was scared by adults with good intentions. It was the prayer of someone who throughout his life couldn’t figure out how to “be good” on his own. Though rudimentary on the surface, it’s the prayer that I think many people who begin to explore the ideas of God and Hell pray – even some of the people in church seats week after week.
It was in college that Craig was involved in a Bible study with a group of guys who believed in God but realized they knew little about who He really was. It was then – in that questioning, the searching – that God showed up and revealed himself to them. Still, even if we have a similar experience and begin to move from “please save me” to getting to know God on a more intimate level, Craig points out that it’s far too easy to lose passion for Christ as we become a full-time-whatever and part-time Christian. We don’t know him intimately enough to keep us from falling back into things that separate us from wholly trusting Him.
The books is beautifully laid out to first tackle all of the things that don’t define us – things like shame. To remind us that genuine communication doesn’t put us any more in control of our circumstances, but keeps us close to the one who is in control. It then goes on to talk about the ways we might live as if God doesn’t exist: refusing to believe we can be changed, refusing to forgive, worrying about our future, etc. It addresses what should make us stand out. Just as we wouldn’t call ourselves atheists, we also wouldn’t say we believe the formula that “more stuff + right relationships + perfect appearance + thrilling experience + peaceful circumstances = happiness”…. but we live as if we do. Craig challenges us to a life that doesn’t depend on those things, those circumstances lining up. On a life that includes tithing, sharing your faith (your story), serving others, being bold.
I have read another of Craig’s books and in that instance, I remember thinking that he was a wonderful leader and speaker and that he had fantastic, challenging things to say – but that his writing took me in circles a little, and felt a little repetitive. Not so with The Christian Atheist. From beginning to end I felt like it was well-organized, and Craig provides countless laugh-out-loud moments.
The book finishes by addressing something that I’ve seen more and more lately, where people claim to love Jesus but hate the church. That’s an entirely different post 🙂 but he speaks hard truths taking this head on. He shares some of the messiest, most beautiful stories of the church at its best, where God uses the broken, “normal”, uneducated people to be different, and make a difference in the world.
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This is one of those books that I think no matter where you are in your spiritual journey, if you’re on one at all? It’s worth reading. Craig makes no bones about calling Christians out for many of the things that the rest of the world finds “wrong” with them. He holds nothing back in challenging people to move forward from where they are. And it’s really entertaining.
Well you have me intrigued… is he a believer then? This book really does sound fascinating and worth taking a look at, and being challenged in my faith as a Christian. Thanks for sharing such a great review- very well written and informative!