Sunday, December 19

Mere Churchianity

Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Some of you may know Michael Spencer by his blog, Internet Monk. There he often wrote to those who were growing disillusioned with the church as we see it here in America. Michael passed away in April of 2005 from cancer.

Mere Churchianity is the only book he has published. It is subtitled, “Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality.” At first glance it would be easy to group this book into the rest of generic books on spirituality and how to be a spiritual person. However, after perusing a few chapters you’ll be able to quickly tell that this is not the case. Rather, this book is a response to said books.

The forward by Water Brook’s editor reveals that Michael was apprehensive about how his book would be received by the Christian Community, and especially by the Christian School he worked for. This book is often direct and does not always show the modern church in the most pleasant light. He offers his thoughts on how the church is pulling away from true spirituality and is trying to present their own manufactured ‘god.’ In trying to move past the stereotype Christianity created by fundamentalists, the church now moves in a whole direction. Let me give you a quick sample of Michael’s thoughts on how the western world presents Jesus.

“In the Western world, we long ago passed the point where Jesus was someone only religious leaders could talk about. Jesus is now a corporate, political, and social symbol. He is appropriated by those who want to claim their products or agendas are recommended and endorsed by God. The image or mention of Jesus conveys authenticity in a way that nothing else can approach.”

While present a sharp critique of the church, a critique is more what the book lends itself to. For Michael offers his thoughts on ways the church might be able to overcome this.

It is a thought provoking read and I liked how Michael was able to express his problems with the church without being overbearingly negative. However, I don’t fully agree with Michael’s conclusion. While he doesn’t entirely dismiss the church as not being necessary, he certainly leans in that direction. He acknowledges the importance of the church but at the same time seems to underplay the role of the church as a community of believers.

This is a great book to read if you are someone who struggles with church and for anyone who is starting to question the church as a whole while unsure of whether they can retain the Christianity. However, if you are part of a church and you feel as if it is having a positive effect on your Christian life, you may find this book a tad harsh or biting at times.

3.5 stars

You can download the first chapter here if you would like to get a better taste for the book.

Rate my review here.

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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