Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: Am I Really A Christian?

Am I Really A Christian? Mike McKinley. Foreword by Kirk Cameron. 2011. Crossway. 160 pages.

From the introduction: This is a book aimed at convincing you that you may not be a Christian. I want you to ask the question, "Am I Really A Christian?" because I'm convinced there are a lot of people in this world who think they are Christian but are not. Does that surprise you or make you feel a bit uncomfortable? Does knowing the 'aim' of this one make you more or less likely to pick it up?

Mike McKinley continues,
"Imagine for a minute that we're all running in a race. According to the rules of this race, it doesn't matter how we place, but it is absolutely critical that we finish. Not only that, our eternal destiny hangs on whether we finish this race. Finishing means eternal joy. Failing to finish, for whatever reason, means eternal suffering. This would be a pretty important race, would it not?
Now imagine that, looking along the racecourse, we see people dressed in running shorts and fancy sneakers, but for some reason they are sitting by the side of the road. Other people are crouched down, still as statues, tense, poised, and ready in the starting blocks. But they never move; they just stay there. Some people are wandering around in circles. Still others are running the wrong way.
Suppose then we stop to talk to these wayward runners and nonrunners. Quickly it becomes clear that they are convinced they're running well. They say they're looking forward to completing the race and receiving the substantial reward. They smile and talk dreamily about life beyond the finish line. The problem is, we know that they will never finish the race given their pace or direction.
Tell me: What would be the loving thing to do in that case? Would love motivate us to ignore their confusion? Would love motivate us to politely nod and say nothing? Of course not. Love would require us to warn them, to convince them, to plead with them to change their course.

That is the spirit in which I offer this book to you. (14-15)
In seven chapters, he invites readers to examine their lives to see if they are truly in the faith. The chapter titles are:

  • You are not a Christian just because you say that you are...
  • You are not a Christian if you haven't been born again...
  • You are not a Christian just because you like Jesus...
  • You are not a Christian if you enjoy sin...
  • You are not a Christian if you do not endure to the end...
  • You are not a Christian if you don't love other people...
  • You are not a Christian if you love your stuff...

Did you hesitate over any of those while reading them? It would be hard not to, wouldn't it?

In the final two chapters, McKinley discusses assurance--how believers can be assured of their salvation--and the role of the church in the believer's life.

I believe this book is important. I do. And some chapters are crucial, in my opinion. For example, in chapter two, McKinley writes:
In short, a Christian believes:
1. We are sinners, fully deserving the condemnation of a holy God who hates all sin and wickedness
2. God, in his mercy, took on human flesh in the person of Jesus and lived the perfect life of obedience to God that we should have lived.
3. He gave up his life, on the cross, to bear the penalty for our sins, and he was raised from the dead in victory and glory as God's promised King.
4. Anyone who turns to Jesus in repentance and faith is completely forgiven and adopted into God's family. (29-30)
And in chapter three, he says:
"In order to have faith, we must know certain facts about ourselves and about Jesus, who he is and what he has done for us...You cannot believe in something that you don't know about. Saving faith must have an object. You don't just believe; you believe something. And throughout Scripture we find essential truths that must be believed...There are certain doctrines that people must hear, understand, and affirm if they want to become true Christians. (47)
These essentials are:

  • You are a sinner
  • Jesus is fully God and fully man
  • Jesus the God-man saves through his death
  • Jesus was raised bodily from the dead
  • Jesus is Lord

He states simply: "It's not enough to simply believe things about Jesus. You must believe that you need a Savior, and that he is that Savior. You must believe that you need a Lord, and that he is that Lord. (56)

I liked Am I Really A Christian? I thought it was straightforward and relevant. I thought it spoke simply about the basics of the faith. I liked how reliant it is on Scripture. The more a book quotes the Bible, the more a book shares Scripture references, the more likely I am to trust it and recommend it to others. (It's very important for me that a book be biblical.) I definitely thought the book did a good job with the subject. It's not necessarily easy to get people reading OR thinking deeply about their faith and their lives. But I think it is critical for people to THINK, to take their faith--their beliefs--seriously.

Learn more about Am I Really a Christian? or read a sample chapter.

What is a nominal Christian?

What is a nominal Christian? from Crossway on Vimeo.

What is the gospel?

What is the Gospel? from Crossway on Vimeo.

What are the misunderstandings people have about the gospel?

What are some misunderstandings people have about the Gospel? from Crossway on Vimeo.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

twiga92 said...

Thanks for the review! I have added this book to my wishlist. Been dealing with this topic lately; reading books like Christless Christianity, The Christian Atheist and Radical. I think too many people think they are Christians because they prayed a prayer or walked down an aisle to an altar call. But there is no real change in their lives. This is a very real issue that needs to be addressed. Thanks for sharing!