I bought this book, based on the cover and what was on the back of the book...be honest, I didnt really get what this author was trying to say. I read it through fairly quickly, and as I often do, I re-read it again, more slowly and thoughtfully. I STILL didnt get it. I believe that Mr. Bethke was trying to tell the readers, that we are to trust in Jesus, not church/denomination rules and regulations..
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I appreciate what he says about us being saved by grace and none of us being perfect. I agree absolutely. The problem I had with the book was the author acts like because we're sinners saved by grace we should have no expectations of ourselves or other believers to live Godly. It was sort of a just give up on yourself and others because we're just sinners.
He also falsely likens Pharisees to fundamentalists. The Pharisees' problem was not fundamental adherence to God's law, it was in fact the opposite- they dismissed the law in favor of their traditions! Jesus chided the Pharisees for violating God's law to keep their traditions. That is not fundamentalism.
The author correctly warns against zeroing in on select parts of scripture, but he does the exact same thing! He ignores the scriptures that instruct us to strive for godliness and personal holiness and basically be satisfied that we are saved and from there, just to be ok with falling short of the glory of God. There is a theological name for what this book is, anti-nomianism. The Reformation Era church under Luther (the main proponent of grace alone, faith alone) recognized anti-nomianism as heresy. To paraphrase Luther, God's law still serves a purpose- to show us our sin and drive us to the cross and the cross points us back to the law to show what God expects out of the sanctified man/woman. Will we fall short? Yes. Is that an excuse to kick back and be comfy in our sin. NO. I felt the author seemed to be suggesting we should have little to no expectations of Godly living from Christians. Maybe I'm wrong, but that is how it came across to me.
I know this isn't the type of thing I usually review. In fact, it isn't even the type of thing that I read. However, I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading. At least, when I had to, I didn't want to.
Bethke talks about subjects that are tricky, maybe even controversial. But he does so in a way that can relate to teens and adults, but also in a way that is humorous. He isn't poking fun at anything, but he keeps you entertained so that you continue reading.
Bethke basically walks us through his walk with faith and God, expanding and using those issues to further his points. Because of that, this book had many little anecdotes, some hard and embarrassing for him to share, I'm sure. He does so with an open vulnerability, but also with his characteristic humor.
Bethke digs deep into the Bible, supporting what he says with Scriptural evidence. He doesn't claim to be a pastor or theologian, and he's not ashamed to admit when he doesn't know something.
Drawing from personal experiences, especially as a teenager, Bethke tries to make this understandable for young adults and teens. He shows them that he relates to them, he understands them, that he went to the same thing. He encourages and uplifts, by just being someone who's there instead of someone who has all the answers.
After all, I'm pretty sure Jefferson Bethke is the only one who can get away with comparing the Bible to Jersey Shore.
Bethke also brings up points that are tough, but he doesn't do so in a self-righteous way, as someone who knows all the answers. Instead, as someone who is just asking the questions, like the readers.
Some of the things Bethke says might be controversial (maybe to the older generation) but I feel like they need to be said, and I'm glad he did. Jesus > Religion is such an eye-opener. It will really make you think in a way you hadn't before, and quite honestly, in a way you may not want to.
I'm not sure what else that I could say that could adequately explain how I feel about this book. Like I said, I was hooked, and I hate reading this kind of stuff. I feel that every Christian should read this book, no matter where you are in your walk of faith. If you've ever had doubts or questions, this is the book to start with. If you're not a Christian, because you've been turned off by other Christians you've met, first off: I'm sorry. Second, you should read this book.
This is the book I've been looking for. It especially reached me because I went to the same College he describes for his Freshman year. I'd like to tell the author "Thank you". Since I can't, I will spread this publication through word of mouth. Warning: This is not casual reading! This isn't inspiring,...It's either life changing, or life devastating. I pray the reader chooses the first.