In her book, Confronting Christianity, Rebecca McLaughlin takes on the task of addressing 12 difficult cultural questions that many around us, including those inside the church, are asking. She does not shy away from the hard questions but instead responds to them in a biblically centric, intellectually thoughtful, and compassionate way. I found this book extremely helpful, and I am confident that many others will as well. In this short review I want to offer three reasons why you should consider reading this book and two ways that you could use it this year to engage with our prayer and action goals.
First, you should consider reading this book for your own edification. As I was reading, I was so challenged and encouraged by the thorough treatment of each topic. Her thoughts are not reductionist or dismissive. She validates the impulse of each thought and then carefully addresses the flaws that exist in each argument and presents the answers that the gospel provides. I was particularly helped by her chapters addressing the denigration of women and homophobia. My love for Christ abounded as I saw his love for his image bearers and his desire for our good. You too will find many causes to be stretched and grown in these chapters.
Secondly, you should consider reading this book to stir compassion in your hearts towards those who do not yet know Christ. I find that many Christians harbor more contempt than compassion for sinners…especially those who do not outwardly conform to a worldview that only Christ can truly enliven. We are quick to forget that our worldview is a gift and our obedience to the gospel is empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit and not by personal wisdom. This book helps us see “those other people” with compassionate hearts. This was especially true for me when Rebecca shared her own story in the chapter addressing homosexuality. When I see a person I respect wrestle with the Scripture in the way that she does it reminds me of the cost of discipleship. Obedience at the heart level is not easy and we are all prone to create narratives and worldviews that support our desires. Reading this book will help us love those who are wrestling as well as those who are in bondage to other worldviews, for the sake of their desires, in a more compassionate way.
Third, and lastly, you should consider reading this book to help you engage your “neighbor” in a more compelling way, prepared to bring the hope of the gospel as you engage with them over their felt needs and values. Often, we don’t engage because we don’t feel prepared. This usually fleshes out in two ways. The first is total disengagement. We want to bring the gospel to others, but we don’t know how to address their felt needs and worldview. The second is to say our beliefs louder and stronger from a distance (social media anyone?). We want people to know the truth but we are afraid to engage them face-to-face, so we launch truths from a distance. No matter where on that spectrum you fall, this book is helpful! It gives you tools for engagement and also reminds you that you do not have to know everything to start a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you. More importantly, it stirs your affections for Christ and for sinners in a way that makes you want to engage where you may not have previously held that desire.
Now that you are completely convinced that you should read Confronting Christianity, let me offer two suggestions on how you can use it to engage with our prayer and action goals for the year. First, you can use this book to Equip you for the work of the gospel. Gather a small group of women, a few couples or someone you are discipling and read this book together. Be prepared to share about how the content is challenging you and receive help in growing in your ability to love the non-believers in your life better. This would also be a great resource to use to Engage in our community! Do you have some skeptical, thoughtful, curious friends who would be interested in reading this book with you? Ask them to grab coffee once a month for the next year and cover 1-2 chapters. Who knows how the LORD will use those conversations in the lives of those people!
This is a thoughtful, engaging and sound resource that I highly recommend for anyone who wants to engage the cultural beliefs in a compassionate and helpful way…and even if you don’t want to do that, it is likely that the Holy Spirit could use this book to change your mind!
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