Call to action
unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters, David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons, Baker Books (2007)
The Next Christians: The Good News about the End of Christian America, Gabe Lyons, Multnoma Books Doubleday Religion (2010)
The Christian world currently faces an opportunity to rethink how it lives Christianity.
unChristian reveals that Christianity has quite a negative reputation among young people in America. Christians are viewed by a large majority as hypocritical, too focused on getting converts, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental. The book expands on these six themes with thorough research and poignant anecdotes.
It’s the end of an exhausting day. Author David Kinnaman sits down to dinner with a friend. “So, David, do you still think I am going to hell because I am gay?” the friend asks. 1 He adds, “I know guys who have committed suicide because of the deep conflicts that exist between who they are and what religion says is right and wrong” 2
Reading this, it was a relief to know that Christian Science uplifts “who we are” to harmonious being. Whatever our views on homosexuality, we know that divine Principle is never in conflict with that identity. But I had to ask myself: Do I acknowledge this fact daily for myself and others—the way Jesus did? Or do I judge people?
Again, when Kinnaman says Christians must overcome hypocrisy with transparency, I realized that any sense of hypocrisy can be removed by knowing ourselves as a “transparency for Truth” 3 Still, I asked myself more questions: How often do I become Truth’s transparency, and heal the way Jesus healed? The questions raised in this book emphasize that how I live Christian Science affects how others perceive it.
While unChristian is aimed primarily at born-again Christians, the conversational writing style allows a wide range of readers to connect with the content. It’s also solution-oriented, which turns the topic from heavy to hopeful.
Even more hopefully, Gabe Lyons wrote The Next Christians as a follow-up to unChristian. This book explores the transformation of America from a historically Christian culture to a nation in which church has taken a backseat.
Despite the statistics of declining church membership, Lyons conveys his high expectation for a flourish of Christianity in the future. He looks deeply at the next generation of Christians, especially our desire for active participation in service-oriented work. The next Christians, Lyons says, are less focused on converting people, and more focused on emulating Jesus.
In the provocative video advertising the book, Lyons says, “People don’t want to be told that we know the way…” He also says, “Our calling as Christians isn’t just to show up and state the good news…it’s to show up and embody the good news.”
Isn’t this what Christian Science is all about? Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy are models of action. From my perspective as a recent college graduate, I see Christian Science youth ready to rise to this example of active healing.
Still, The Next Christians is call-to-action for all Christians, including Christian Scientists. It forces us to evaluate the way we live the Christ that Jesus revealed. And it forces us to consider that this, above all else, will determine the future of our movement.RSS feed