Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: "Not A Fan"

I posted a little about this book before, how our church was involved in a study of this while our pastor did a series of sermons on it and the concepts behind it. Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus, by Kyle Idleman, published in 2011 by Zondervan, is supported by a video study and, I suspect, pastoral notes. This review is of the book only.

As is my habit, when the church first gave me a copy of this book I went straight to Amazon to check the reviews. I read the 1-star reviews first. There were only a handful out of hundreds. The complaint of these reviews is that the book, if taken to its implied extreme, will result in legalism and tearing down the body of Christ rather than build it up. That concerned me, even though it was only a few reviews. I began reading it with my senses for legalism turned on.

I'm happy to say I didn't sense any of that in my reading. I found the book to be just what it said it is in the title and subtitle: intended to encourage people to deepen their walk in Jesus. We do not have a shortage of such books in the world, either modern or old. Why have another? A book, a study, a string of paragraphs and chapters describing concepts will speak to different people differently. One book speaks to one person while another person is turned off by it and finds similar information in a book written from a different perspective. Through the two different approaches more people are reached and led into a deeper walk with Jesus. That seems a good thing to me.

Idleman writes well, clearly lays out his premises and discusses them. I found no legalism in the book. In fact, my observation of Christians in the world is in accord with what he says. Many, probably even most, are not truly committed to the One whose name they bear, live exactly the same after their "conversion" as they did before. Their language is the same. Their coarse joking is the same. Their use of mind-altering substances is the same. Their outlook on life is the same. There were literally no change in their life. They made a statement of faith, then lived as they did before. As James said, "Can such faith save you?"

As I said, I found no trace of legalism in this book. To the one who wants to be named among the Christians but doesn't want to change their life, any call for a deeper commitment will seem like legalism. Be prepared to be challenged.

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