Saturday, June 25, 2011


Born Again 9: Jesus Without Religion

Previous:  Born Again 8:  An Act of the Will

Navigate:  Born Again:  The Complete Works 

In the fifth installment of this series, I'd noted the sensation that "evangelism is supposed to be harder than this."  One reason I felt this way was that Sharon had thus far been responding mostly to my own writings, which of course simplified my research since I knew precisely what I meant when I said such-and-such. 

I am constantly aware, however, that there are many other voices out there, and our running conversation brought these to the forefront.  In response to a question about my blogging, I issued a gentle caution:
Yes, I have definitely learned the perils of social media. When you throw something out there for the public, "the public" has the ability to chime in. Not everyone in "the public" is necessarily worth listening to. Sometimes I respond, sometimes I give up.

What it does draw attention to is that there are people out there who hold some very odd and sometimes very harmful views about Christ, the Bible, etc. Even our "Christian Book Stores" can contain some very off-base stuff, and of course the Internet is the wild west.

Ephesians 4:14 is instructive: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." And they didn't even have an Internet in those days! :)
So, like I said, Sharon, listen only to me ... the fount of all wisdom!  Yeah right. 
Well anyway, this exclusiveness couldn't possibly last forever (frankly, even if it were possible it would be a lot of pressure).  So God decided it was time to open up Sharon's aperture:
Anyway, since you mentioned "harmful views about Christ, the Bible, etc.", I came across a book that's been collecting dust at one of our restaurants here. I started to read it yesterday during my break while waiting for my food to be cooked. It had an interesting title. One of the employees there told me that I could have it because it "didn't belong to anyone". So I took it (borrowed...I'll return it). It's a book by Rick James, titled Jesus Without Religion. Have you heard of it? I'm asking because I value your opinion highly and would like to know if I should continue reading it or not. So far, it's "fun reading". I just don't know what to make of it yet.
Honestly, I had never heard of this book, and the only Rick James I knew of was a particularly sleazy and drug-addicted pop star who died in 2004. 

I rather hoped this was a different Rick James.

Still, she had come to me for guidance, so I did what Jesus would have done ... I Googled it and found it in Campus Crusade's bookstore:
Jesus Without Religion paints a compelling portrait of Jesus and after finishing the book, the reader will clearly understand the words, works and claims of Jesus. The book concludes with a clear presentation of the gospel as well as an opportunity to respond. Think of JWR as the More Than a Carpenter for this generation, especially as the writing style is far from formal.
Well, it didn't look like heresy.  Frankly, this seemed like a pretty good plan.  Glad I thought of it.  Or something. 
I haven't read it, but a quick look at the summaries I see online make me think it's probably a good book. I'd like to hear more about what you think of it.
I suppose asking her for a book report is something of a cop-out. A responsible guide would actually read the book and then give her some brilliant insight. Unfortunately she was already way ahead of me and there was no time to catch up. I was going to have to trust God, and I was going to have to trust Sharon. God had of course proved himself faithful, and Sharon had proved herself responsible and insightful.

Next:  Born Again 10:  What do you Want?


  1. I love how God does this kind of thing lest we start to boast in our own power.

    A couple of years after I came to Christ, a young seminarian asked me if I would accompany him doing some street evangelism, and I eagerly agreed. We went out talking to random strangers, mostly getting the brush off, until we came upon a young atheist who said that he would listen if we were willing to debate.

    I had just finished pouring through stacks of apologetics books; I was in the process of completing my PhD; I was a former atheist myself; and I figured I could debate this guy into dust.

    So the guy threw out his first question: the problem of evil, an atheist favorite. I was all ready to dive into the argument, when my seminarian friend started talking. He said, "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

    I thought, "what was that, you didn't even answer his question. You just quoted scripture. This guy is going to laugh in your face."

    But the guy said, "That's a really good answer; I don't have a comeback for that."

    And on it went. The atheist would ask an atheist question. The seminarian would respond with scripture totally irrelevant to the topic. Until a couple of hours later the atheist was on his knees in tears, renouncing atheism and choosing to follow Christ. I was and am still perplexed by the whole thing, except to have given up my ideas of me winning anyone to Christ. He wins them to Himself. We just have to be obedient and tell them.

    Sorry for the long post.

    God bless,
    Stephen Manifest Blog

  2. I like both the post and Stephen's comment! Blessings to both of you.

  3. As usual, Jailer, I enjoyed and benefited from your post. This one made me laugh though so, with tongue in cheek, I post:

    Jailer wrote "So God decided it was time to open up Sharon's aperature". There is no such word as aperature Jailer. Perhaps you meant to type aperture? In that case, your sentence takes on a whole new meaning from what you probably intended as the definition of aperture according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

    1 : an opening or open space : hole

    Your servant in Christ,
    Evil Childish Prisoner

  4. Ok ok ... ya big meanie. Correction made.

  5. I actually meant to sign it "Sinful Childish Prisoner". I'm really not evil at all, just another sinner as we all are.


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