There are quite a few books in the last few years that have made a lasting impact on the perception of readers looking for an alternative explanation to the constitutes of Christianity. Here, I am trying to show that the very central issues discussed reveals the desired intention to succumb to some liberal ideas shedding the dogmatic constitutes of the past. In no way do I think any of these ideas have any merit, neither do I hold that these are merely heterodox? I am simply showing that divergent Christianity has drifted so far to the left that these issues have now become central ideas.
I did not choose books based on the number of copies sold but only from a personal perspective. Even though some publications might be outside of the Christian peripheral (“Your best life now” by Joel Osteen or “The Purpose driven life” by Rick Warren), I have chosen ten books that in my opinion have undermined the basis of orthodoxy found in the Christian faith. You might want to add a few books, so please feel free to do so in the comment section.
Here are ten influential [Un]Christian books that have revealed the common perception of Christianity in the last few years.
(10) The Sins of Scripture by John Shelby Spong.
Bishop Spong has long been a leading voice amongst Christian Liberals, and in this publication, he investigates the supposed “terrible texts of the Bible” looking at the abuses and misapplication that impacts the common perception about God. He adds his interpretive understanding to texts used to justify homophobia, anti-Semitism, misogynism, corporal punishment, and environmental degradation. Spong seeks to make the indictments of the Bible less hostile, applying a contextual hermeneutic that ‘fends for God’ and seeks to make God more inclusive.
For me, Marcus Borg (Born: 11 March 1942 – Died: 21 January 2015) has long been the “darling of the heretics.” Looking to announce a fresh perspective on the Historical Jesus, Borg finds proximity in a Jesus sanitized from the overt divination of a desperate culture. In doing so, he makes a clear distinction between the Jesus of Faith and the Jesus of History.
(8) Love Wins: At the Heart of Life’s Big Questions by Rob Bell.
Rob Bell has been one of the most prolific and innovative teachers in the Church world. In 2007 he released this book stirring the emotions of readers calling for a set Universalism mentioning the probability of salvation that might be more inclusive and secure for non-adherents of fundamentalist Christianity.
(7) Who Wrote the New Testament? By Burton L. Mack.There has been a litany of books aimed at the validity of the Bible, especially the four Gospels and Burton Mack suggests that the four Gospels are fictional mythologies that have been created by diverse communities for various purposes. These books, therefore, have a definite bias and different intent but can only superficially relate to the actual historical Jesus.
(6) The Myth of Persecution by Candida Moss.
Challenging the common perception of early Christian persecution, Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, sets out to show that the earliest Christians invented a story of martyrdom. The central premise indicates that this History was constructed and collusion was foundational in the retelling of the most initial Christian story.
(5) The Shack, by William P. Young
This fiction book was a New York Times bestseller, and a movie was made with the same title. The story is about a man, named Mack, who has lengthy conversations about his loss and tragedy with three persons who represent a version of the Trinity (which is seemingly not orthodox). This book reveals the lack of typical Christian to explain an adequate understanding of this central doctrine. Read an excellent article about this book here.
A Generous Orthodoxy is not one of McLaren’s most controversial works, but, in this book, McLaren strives to find a dogma that is central to the inclusion of the many. The publisher of this book writes: “A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the “us/them” paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of “we” looking for a ‘spirit’ of ecumenism, and a longing to imitate “Jesus, [who] is driven by love, and is defined by missional intent” including people of all religions and faiths (Pg.297-298).
(3) God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines.
God and the Christian is probably a very central issue that the modern Church has to face. Matthew Vines sets out to show that homosexuality is not condemned in a Biblical context, and God is more accepting than what the Church has portrayed in the past. Vines tries to show that orthodoxy does not have to exclude same-sex attraction but need to affirm LGBT and other questions on gender identity.
(2) The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher
In a search for a contemporary Christian approach in an ever declining western culture, Dreher calls for the integration of the ancient disciplines formulated by a sixth-century monk, Benedict of Nursia (c. AD 480–550). In this degraded culture, the Church should revitalize their faith and design new communities that would encourage faith, family, and the Christian life.
Ex-Evangelical Christian Bart D. Ehrman, the student of the late Bruce Metzger, writes this book trying to cast doubt on the earliest compellation of New Testament manuscripts. He mentions that there was a clear bias in the first Christian community seeking to emphasize orthodoxy and that we do not have the original documents so we cannot really for sure prove what was written.
Please feel free to add publications you think reveals a pseudo-Christian perception.
Pastor Rudolph Boshoff