UnChristian (2007)

In their aggressive and rather blunt book, Kinnaman and Lyons finally say what everyone else is thinking: Christianity has an image problem. Using state-of-the-art research tools and surveys from The Barna Group, the authors illuminate and evaluate “what a new generation really thinks about Christianity – and why it really matters,” as their subtitle indicates. In a worldview where our “insides” are far more often examined than our “outsides,” the authors tackle one of the most difficult and messy subjects of our generation and our “religion:” how we come across to others, and how it affects our witness and our relationships. And how we can fix that.

UnChristian begins with some hard-hitting pictures of the current generation and how it relates to opinions about Christianity. It then spends the majority of the chapters moving quickly from the who to the what – by focusing on what “outsiders” (or, unbelievers) see in Christians. Even though this portrayal is compelling to action on its own, steps for action are given later. Kinnaman and Lyons use integrity and forthrightness in giving clear examples from the life of Christ and from scripture, reinforcing their self-proclaimed goal of reteaching “Christian” faith.

Their observations are refreshing, disturbing, inspiring and credible. Perhaps one of the most stirring beauties of their solution is its refusal to simply “try harder” to overcome stereotypes. Their challenges are clear and right out of scripture: “you don’t love me as you did at first!” (Revelation 2:4). It’s not Jesus that’s outdated; it might really be our unacknowledged failure in our Christian practice that is the problem. Kinnaman and Lyons provide a vision for witness in the 21st century.

-Sarah Dompier

Want to read the book and discuss it with Sarah?
Sign up for the class: HMN 491 Spring Semester Wednesdays at 9:05am

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