Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Not a Fan of Not a Fan

For Lent, my church community is going through the book Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. While I am enjoying the conversations we've been able to have through this book, I can say with confidence that I am not a fan.

Don't bother with this book. It is theologically incoherent. In regards to salvation, Idleman consistently vacillates between the prioritization of divine agency and human agency, but finally lands the ship in human agency. When it's all said and done, for Idleman, divine agency in salvation is made contingent upon a faithful human response. For Idleman, it's what we do that finally determines our status with God, but the gospel says precisely the opposite. While he leaves himself exits from this rationale every few pages with something about grace, he has, by and large, conflated the distinction and importance of God's action into human action. Again, this is theologically incoherent.

The gospel does not distinguish fans from followers. Human response to the gospel may warrant such a distinction, but the very point of the gospel is that God's grace goes before us. God's grace precedes our response to it and renders our action meaningless in regards to our salvation. Our action finds its distinction, meaning, and importance only as it is subject to God's grace (not the other way around!). Human action is not what saves us. It is important because of what it can do to the people around us--either making life better or more miserable for them--but it does not determine our "eternity." Thus, we are invited to follow Christ not out of necessity for salvation, but as a response to the divine invitation to participate now in that future which has become ours through Christ's resurrection, even as our present impossibility and brokenness have become God's through Christ's death.

Don't bother with this book. Read something by Henri Nouwen or N.T. Wright if you're looking for something accessible.

1 comment:

Luke Lindon said...

A great review! I did the first two chapters of this book and was angry and I couldn't figure out why. You articulated it in this post. The tribalism of "make sure you confess Christ" leads the theology of this book down the slippery slope of works righteousness.

Thanks man. Missing PYM15 but so thankful for PYM14 where we crossed paths. So keep rawk'n dude.