Monday, December 3, 2018

Book Review: How To Be A Perfect Christian

How To Be A Perfect Christian. The Babylon Bee. 2018. 203 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: If you're reading this, we want to congratulate you.

Babylon Bee has written a book, HOW TO BE A PERFECT CHRISTIAN. It should only be read by those who know the style and wit of Babylon Bee.

Like Screwtape Letters, its wisdom--insights--comes only when you read between the lines. To take the book literally--to take it seriously--would be folly in the highest degree.

The book almost has a Twilight Zone feel to it. The Christianity it advocates is warped, turned upside down, topsy-turvy.

It is assumed that readers are believers trusting fully in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is assumed that readers know the gospel--really know it and believe it. It is also assumed that readers have a good sense of humor and can recognize the obvious.

I am not opposed to believers having a sense of humor. A teeny tiny bit of me questions whether something as life-and-death serious as the gospel should be a laughing matter. After all, self-righteousness, smugness, pride are REAL and DEADLY. The cultural brand of Christianity on display in the book are exaggerated and extreme--at times--but still a present danger. Just because situations are exaggerated doesn't mean that there aren't hints of reality--flashes of truth--within.

People who are Christian in name only--"cultural" Christians who perhaps have attended church two to three times in their life do tend to get the gospel wrong, to think that one can earn their own salvation, that one can through their own effort become righteous and pleasing to God.

This happens in television and movies all the time. 99% of the time screen writers don't get "the gospel" right. Don't grasp what Christianity is all about. They do make it a matter of bargaining with God, of getting on God's good sides by doing good deeds, or of countering the bad they've done with good. Why will God let you into heaven? Because I'm a good person. Because I've done more good than bad. Because I'm not as bad as so-and-so. Because I've tried my best. Because I am kind to animals. Because, because, because. Full of self-works, self-righteousness. The prayers that screen writers write for actors are more often than not atrocious.

The gospel is not self-evident--ever. The self, the fallen self, the oh-so-human self could never come up with the gospel on his or her own.

So this book is for Christians. It offers a giggle or two perhaps. But also, I hope a sobering moment or two.

The Seven Essential Truths of the Gospel
1. You are amazing. You are so special and amazing, you've surpassed even God's expectations for your life. As the great theologian Christina Aguilera said, "You are beautiful...Words can't bring you down!"
2. God really needs you on His team. What would God do without you? God decided to save sinners because He was really lonely and needed you to cheer Him up.
3. God is love and has absolutely no other distinguishing attributes. Holiness? Justice? Wrath? Sovereignty? Nah. God is love and only love.
4. Jesus died for your temporary comfort and security. You were just so special that God sent His Only Son so you could be satisfied with temporary things of this earth.
5. Did we mention you're amazing? Seriously, we just can't even describe how amazing you are. Turn your eyes upon yourself, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
6. The God of the Bible would never do anything you would personally disagree with. God is constantly checking His actions against your subjective moral compass to make sure you're never offended. He's lucky you're around to keep Him on message!
7. Those who conform to cultural Christianity will be justified. You will be declared right with God only when you look like a really good Christian. It's a hard road, but it'll be worth it in the end. We promise!
You must preach this gospel of your own sufficiency to save yourself each and every day if you want to remain focused on your sacred mission to become a perfect Christian. Listen to preachers who do nothing but encourage you, lift you up, and constantly remind you just how worthy you are of God's grace. (134-5)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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