December 13, 2017

IM Book Review: Mere Churchianity—Time to Get Real

By Chaplain Mike

It is here, the day we’ve been waiting for here at Internet Monk. Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality has been released! Today, I will give you my initial review and reflections.

I can easily summarize its main message: It’s time for Jesus’ followers to GET REAL.

This is the manifesto for post-evangelicals. Anyone out there who thinks, “Jesus has left the building”? Michael thought that was the case too often in our American evangelical churches. After decades of working in congregations and Christian organizations, he observed these ironies:

  • We didn’t know what Jesus was like.
  • We assumed that church would make us like Jesus.
  • We didn’t read the Bible with our focus on Jesus.
  • Unlike Jesus, we were often ungracious and unloving to others.
  • Beyond his death and resurrection, we didn’t grasp the meaning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
  • We assumed that Jesus stamped his approval on our way of life.

“Here is the truth,” writes Michael Spencer, “Far from being Jesus-shaped Christians, we were church shaped” (p. 7).

The Jesus Disconnect

Michael points out that there is a “Jesus Disconnect” in the American evangelical church. We advertise that church is the place to find Jesus. Instead, when people enter, they find moralism. Culture-war political rants. Church growth strategies. Pandering to religious consumers. Pastors with egoist ambitions. A “gospel” of health, wealth, and prosperity. A bourgeois suburban ethos of security, safety, and perpetuating the status quo. Programs that are light on genuine spiritual formation and teaching people to actually follow Jesus.

If we spent three years with Jesus, as the disciples did, is this the Christianity we would recognize? iMonk argues that this religion of “being a good Christian” is a far cry from the disruptive, disturbing adventure of being Jesus’ disciple. It’s time to get real!

The Real Jesus

If our lives are going to be shaped by Jesus, and not simply by church culture, we must get to know Jesus. The second part of Mere Churchianity helps us see who the real Jesus is. Spencer gives us a “Jesus 101” course, reminding us of some basic facts about who Jesus is, and what his mission in this world is about.

Jesus’ work of dying on the cross and rising again were, of course, the climax and culmination of his redemptive ministry. However, evangelical churches have often given less attention to the ministry that preceded the Passion.

  • Jesus taught about God’s Kingdom.
  • Jesus practiced radical hospitality and inclusion of those rejected by the religious establishment.
  • Jesus prophetically denounced that same religious establishment.
  • Jesus did not engage in lavish marketing campaigns or focus on impressive “church growth.” Rather, he spent his life in a small place mentoring a few people and turning them into disciples.
  • Jesus called his friends to a life of doing the same and warned them that they too would suffer for it.

Jesus kept it real, and honest, and down-to-earth, while at the same time giving us a vision of a completely new creation!

The Jesus-Shaped Life

The third section of Mere Churchianity points out some beginning steps toward truly following Jesus.

  • It starts with taking a new look at the Bible. Just the Bible. Not the Bible as interpreted for us by the dominant church culture, but the Bible in all its raw beauty and power. Read the Bible. See what it actually says about Jesus. Let Jesus’ words and actions impact you full force.
  • If you want a Jesus-shaped life, choose not to be defined by adjectives that are commonly added to the word “Christian.” Don’t seek to be a “good” Christian or a “victorious” Christian. Just be a Christian. Just follow Jesus. The adjectives that churches and Christian traditions use often signify extraneous demands and expectations that go beyond what Jesus is calling us to be.
  • Be who you are: be real, be honest, be weak, be a sinner—and let Jesus be who he is: your Savior. Don’t buy into  wrongheaded views of sanctification that suggest we will be anything other than sinner-saints who need Jesus’ grace, forgiveness, and present help every moment until the day we are glorified.
  • Realize that “the church” is bigger than its institutional expressions, and that God may lead you out of “acceptable” church culture into forms of fellowship and mission that will enable you to follow Jesus more fully.

The Jesus Community

Finding a group of others seeking to follow Jesus in this fashion can be difficult. A host of people are leaving the church or on the verge of doing so because they can’t find this kind of fellowship. People leave established churches because they often promote being a “fan” of Jesus rather than a “player” on his team. They are also tired of the consumerist style of Christianity that says we can buy the product, take the class, complete the program, and voilá! we’re followers of Jesus. As a result, many feel alone. And while solitude is an essential part of the spiritual life, we were also designed for community.

Start with yourself, and begin following Jesus in the life you live. Focus on the Scriptures. Build your relationships. Look for mentors that can guide you to Jesus. Find a humble place to serve others, and if possible, a community that supports you in that.

Finding a Jesus-shaped community may be difficult, and Michael Spencer concludes with this encouragement:

The decision to pursue a Jesus-shaped spirituality won’t take you to a building with a sign out front. You may have to look hard to see the overgrown path of the “road less traveled by…that has made all the difference.”

You will be cutting against the grain and swimming against the current. You may find yourself far outside the doors of many churches and thrown in with whomever the scapegoats of the hour happen to be. You should expect to be called liberal, emerging, naive, rebellious, and unsaved. Heads will shake and fingers will wag. But you’re in good company. Jesus’ own family raised questions about his stability.

…trust me you are not alone. There are millions like you, coming from every possible church, experience, school, ministry, and family in Christendom. I believe your presence is changing the landscape of the Western Christian world (p. 211).

May God use this book to help us all “get real.”

Comments

  1. I’ve read it already on my Kindle and thought it was so important I bought several copies – and in case anyone’s interested, I’m giving away a few free copies on my blog next week!

  2. May I humble suggest that this will be one of THE most important books for Jesus-loving people to read in the first part of this new millenium. Michael’s love for Jesus and for his people comes through loud and clear. I’m already giving my copy that arrived today away to friends who head back to England later this week.

    I thought I’d ordered multiple copies. Now I will be. (I’m reading the Kindle for Mac version.)

    Great review Chaplain Mike. Well done.

  3. Rick Ro. says:

    Wow. Excellent review. As I and a few of my fellow congregants at my church begin a “coffee ship-based compassionate ministry,” I feel all the elements of Mere Churchianity mentioned here are what God is asking for us to do in our own little attempt at bringing Jesus to our local community. I am amazed at how well Michael Spencer has articulated a “problem” with Christianity (the religion).

    I will definitely be buying the book. May God use Michael Spencer’s book to help lead believers back to “following Jesus.” (This written by me as one who, I hope humbly, recognizes he is far from following Christ like he should.)

    Thank you, Chaplain Mike, for this wonderfully insightful review! God Bless you, too!

  4. Brian in BC says:

    I’ve been waiting for this day…I’ve ordered the book and can’t wait for it to arrive.

  5. “Don’t buy into wrongheaded views of sanctification that suggest we will be anything other than sinner-saints”

    I’m really looking forward to getting my copy. I’ll probably drop everything and read it in a few hours. I’ve learned so much from the Internet Monk and I know I’ll learn more from his book. However, the above quote is unacceptable. I think Luther was on the right track with the simul justus et peccator thing, but he falls short of the full truth. Our identity does not lie with our sin, but with our savior. If we call ourselves sinners than we take ownership of our rebellion against God. The reason this seems to make sense is because we just can’t stop sinning. But that doesn’t make us a sinner. God has made us his, and if He calls us righteous, who are we to disagree?

    I hate to sound like I’m arguing semantics, but I think the implications of this are huge:
    It seems to me more Biblically accurate to call ourselves “sinning saints” instead of “sinner-saints.”
    We don’t have two natures.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      It’s funny (coincidental funny), but I was thinking just this morning how I view myself as a “flawed Christian.” Miguel, I’m a semantics guy, too, and I see your point. I feel like I’m more a “sinning saint” than a “sinner-saint.” And I admit, too, that may sound like arguing semantics…LOL.

      That said, I also feel, at times, that I DO have two natures, or at least feel my Christian nature is often drawn toward the worldly, the things of the flesh. It makes me wonder if I will ever be rid of the “sinner” self.

      • That’s more than semantics – – it goes back to the basic question of my identity as a Christian.

      • Rick I got some bad news for you. You can NEVER get rid of your “sinner” self. ….and the good news: Jesus died to accomplish that for you. If you are in Christ, the old self HAS been crucified, and you ARE a new creation.

        It is just so freaking hard to believe this as truth though, because it conflicts with all aspects of my personal experience. I know I sin. I understand how wicked my thoughts, words, and deeds can tend to be. The solution isn’t beating yourself up over your failure, Christ took the beating for you. So long as you have trusted in Christ you can rejoice that the sin you see in your own life is not held against you, because it’s not who you are. I feel like I have two natures at times. It takes faith to trust that the righteousness of Christ has been credited to my account. But if not, then I’m not entirely sure there’s any good news.

        We’re left with “The Gospel of Try Harder to Be Gooder.”

    • david carlson says:

      We are saints, who sin. The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out by Dan Stone is perhaps the best book on the topic – life changing

      Not to disrupt the flow, because I too am waiting for the UPS man…..or woman….

    • I’ll stay with Luther here, and not worry about defining precisely the question of “natures.” I am who I am, my hope is that I am in Christ. I’ll not go further than that.

      • And it’s exactly that! Being IN CHRIST is what it is all about. That is our hope, it is our source of identity, and it is what defines us as Christians.. Just as Paul says in Romans, it is not I that sins, but sin living in me. It really feels like a part of us at times when we are fighting a battle we can’t seem to win, but there is no sin in Christ.

        That is the good news. God declares us righteous, and what He says is.
        Luther wasn’t wrong; the point of the sinner-saint situation was to reveal to us our continual need to be dependent on God’s grace to walk in the light. Very important. As far as it turns us and points us away from self to our savior, it’s good news.

  6. Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

    Just picked up my copy and I’m a couple chapters in. Dang, this gonna hurt my school work this week! 😉

  7. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    What really bums me out in the midst of all this celebration is that if the cancer hadn’t hit, Mere Churchianity would have been the first of many.

    • Cynthia Jones says:

      I am in total agreement. 🙁

    • It may still be, Headless. Stay tuned…

      • As it turns out, HUG isn’t the headless one—he’s the guy with the headless unicorn—or at least the guy who has a conversation with one (before she loses her head).

        There may be a book deal in there for you. Check it out.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          There may be a book deal in there for you. Check it out.

          Oh, I intend to. Though chain-smoking space-opera Goth Ferrets or Lamentations over a picture of a Cobra in a White Dress (and her hope of Resurrection like the Unicorn’s) would be a flesh-to-pile-of-rocks stretch even for this crowd.

          I already steered Christian Monist that way — he’s got a book-length nonfiction manuscript that’s been searching for an agent and publisher. So far, the nastiest rejections have been from Christian agents.

          But for now, I’m heading AWK for two weeks, to AnthroCon and my East Coast contacts.

  8. bought. Awaiting its arrival via UPS. Looking forward to reading it.

    • Cynthia Jones says:

      I pre-ordered months ago. I thought that would give me some sort of “privilege” of getting it a day or two early, but I was in error! LOL! I guess I’ll just have to wait! 🙂 I got an e-mail on Sunday saying it had shipped, though, so it SHOULD be here soon! 🙂

      • I ordered mine early as well, and mine wasn’t going to ship until the 21st. I contacted Amazon to ask why, and now they’re shipping it today. Will still take a bit to get here, though.

        And a friend of mine’s shipped Sunday, just like yours, and he got it yesterday. So hopefully you’ll have yours today or tomorrow.

  9. My pre-ordered copy from Amazon just arrived! I plan to start reading just as soon as I’m finished with the supper dishes. Chaplain Mike, I really hope you keep this topic first for awhile.

  10. JoanieD says:

    HUG, that’s true, but just think….back many months ago, quite a few of us regular commenters were encouraging Michael to write a book. But, at the beginning, he said he was too busy and blogging was what he was good at. Eventually, with encouragement from other folks too, he took the plunge into the publishing world and we are all so glad he did. My copy of his book is winging its way from Amazon to me as we speak. I am so happy that Michael had the courage, fortitude, energy, intelligence and concern to write the book he wrote. Of course, I wish he was here to celebrate with us and to continue writing his impassioned, wonderful words. Thank you, Michael, and thank you to Denise, too, for the support that she provided to Michael.

  11. Evathek says:

    I just got an email notification that my copy shipped today :). I can’t wait. I’m going to try to savor it a little instead of powering through it, though I don’t know if i can :).

    I’m sad that this is the last we’ll get from him, but I’m happy that at least we got this much. Imagine if he had decided that he didn’t have the time for it. Wow, that would have sucked.

    What a happy/sad day 🙂

  12. “You should expect to be called liberal, emerging, naive, rebellious, and unsaved. Heads will shake and fingers will wag. But you’re in good company. Jesus’ own family raised questions about his stability.”

    I grieve for Michael yet again today, all the while realizing it is Divine Timing that he is not with us now. I loved his spirit and his heart.

    • That is so true Debra. Loving someone who’s gay, questioning the righteous right; it is heresy in today’s church. My husband likes to say that people like that are fragile and insecure in their faith to think it’s so breakable. It’s sad that trying to get along and loving regardless is deemed “tolerance” and “gray” or “wishy washy” or worse “unchristian” when truly Jesus saw the “people” inside and was boldly in the faces of the priests of the day.

  13. UPS Tracker says mine is out for delivery! Just two copies for now – for me and a friend. But I definitely expect to be buying more to give away. Just wanted to have a chance to read it myself before getting questions lofted in my direction.

  14. SearchingAnglican says:

    I have been obsessively checking the UPS tracker for delivery status!

    My copies arrived at the UPS station about 30 minutes ago…it’s hoping beyond hope that they’d actually get delivered today. So cruel that the package is mere blocks from my house, but I can’t go get it!

    Wonder if I should just take tomorrow off to read it???

    • Wonder if I should just take tomorrow off to read it???

      OK……NOW thou art surely leading me into temptation…but I love that idea…

  15. While I intend to the read Mere Churchianity, the articles I have read by Michael and C.Mike (word)(jn) still leave me to believe that “Jesus-shaped spirituality” is really nothing more than a “feel-good” religious movement using the name of Jesus. I see the same in both evangelical and mainstream churches.

    Maybe the book will provide me with needed clarity.

    • I can’t imagine how anyone could get that from either of their blog posts.

      • Christopher Lake says:

        I agree, Kenny. Internet Monk has NEVER been about, and from what I read here, never will BE about “feel-good Christianity.” Michael was brutally honest about the struggles of the Christian life. He also wrote movingly about the comfort of the Gospel. “Feel-good Christianity” often has no room for struggle and only a bit more room (if any) for the Gospel.

  16. Amazon tells me mine has shipped via UPS and today is the estimated delivery date. I’ll hop on my bike and go down to the dock and see if the mailboat crew left it inside the shack.

    We do things differently around here. On the next island over they had a galvanized trash can for the mail delivery until the postal service put a stop to it.

    Not going to get anything done if it came and I’m supposed to type up the school board minutes tonight. Thanks a lot, Michael…

    • Got it. Three copies. I was afraid of that.

      • JoanieD says:

        What happened, Ted? Did you accidentally order three copies or did Amazon just make a boo-boo? I love Maine island stories. I have a friend who has a camp on Long Island in Maine and we have taken the ferry over several times to visit. But we haven’t done that in a number of years now and he and his family moved to Nevada so I guess his siblings are taking care of the place. It is a great location for the camp, right on a cove with a nice beach, but the camp itself was really hurting. I think they have fixed it up though.

        • No, it was three copies that I had ordered (saves on shipping charge). What I was afraid of was that it had come today and now I won’t get anything done! But I did at least get the minutes typed and emailed for the school board…

  17. Savannah says:

    I started to read this while on vacation last week, but then my Kindle got damaged and had to be shipped away for repairs or replacement (thanks goodness for Square Trade warranties!). Major bummer! I can’t wait to get my Kindle – it will be the first book of several I’ve got going there that I will finish.

    What I read so far was very thought-provoking and may be the thing that helps me figure out how to hang onto the church. I want so badly to let go.

  18. The copy I pre-ordered from Amazon actually arrived yesterday on the 14th. Bonus!

    I have only read the first 5 chapters, but here are my favorite two quotes thus far:
    From p. 35 …the gods of “big churches are better,” “America is always right,” “our sins are less sinful than their sins,” “you have to look and sound like me to be acceptable” -they all need to go. The false gods need to be replaced by the one true God who comes to us in the teachings, example, and power of Jesus of Nazareth.”

    And from p. 43. “The passionate message of the gospel is to abandon all hope in any other god, god-substitute, or god-replacement. Instead, Jesus-followers live in a world where they are deeply, stubbornly loyal to the one God they know through the One who uniquely shows us what God is like.”

    I will be posting a full review myself on The Master’s Table when I have finished. I’m looking forward to it, and at the same time dread reaching the end. When I have finished reading this book, that’s it. There will never be any more ;-(

    • JoanieD says:

      “When I have finished reading this book, that’s it. There will never be any more ;-(”

      Yes, that is the sad part, Clark.

      • Again, Joanie–stay tuned.

        • Jeff, I am aware that you may be coming out with more books by Michael made up of his blog postings. But Clark and I are lamenting that there will be no NEW words written by Michael after this book.

  19. The copy I saw at Borders Books said (c) 2010 Dennis Spencer. Is “Dennis” a typo?

    • Nope. Dennis Michael Spencer was the iMonk’s full name.

      • JoanieD says:

        I knew that about Michael being Dennis because I had seen a review of a book on Amazon that I know Michael had written and the name there was Dennis Spencer.

        • Thanks. I was afraid they had misspelled “Denise,” assuming the copyright now belongs to her.

          • I just spent too much time on Amazon trying to find the review of a book that Michael wrote using the reviewer name of Dennis Spencer (or maybe it was Dennis Michael Spencer.) I couldn’t find a way to ask Amazon to show me reviews by a particular reviewer. Does anyone know if that can be done and how? Thanks.

          • Jason Blair says:

            This is actually replying to JoanieD blelow (no reply links was available on her post). Michael’s reviews can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2W1WHKLEONQFD
            Or, you can search for Dennis Spencer (or any other name, for that matter) +site:amazon.com

        • JoanieD says:

          Thanks, Jason, for the link to Michael’s reviews of books on Amazon. I am still a little confused about how to find other people. I did find mine, but then when I tried the same process to see if I could get to Michael’s the way I think it worked, it didn’t work. Hmmm….

          • JoanieD says:

            In the process of trying to figure out how to find people’s reviews on Amazon, I saw someone else had my profile name and someone else had the JoanieD that I use here to comment. So, I changed my profile name there to JoanieMaine. I haven’t written any reviews anyway. I have just commented on some books, like Michael’s. I will write a review of the book for Amazon after I read it (after I GET it…hopefully today or if not today, tomorrow for sure, I would say.)

  20. Gene Edwards relates an event in his life that occurred about 50 years ago (he said it occurred in his “last year in the ministry,” and he gave this speech in January 1969, saying that “Seven years ago last November [i.e., November 1961] I quit the ministry”:

    I kept noticing several things. At first I thought only the Christians in my circle were dead. Eventually, by the time I had been almost everywhere, I saw that everything was dead! Gradually one thing became clear to me, and how it took so long to get clear on such a simple thing, I don’t understand. It was this: there is no hope for that thing I understood to be the church – not as it exists today. No hope whatsoever.
    .
    You may not totally agree with that. But I’ll tell you this: I’ve had more experience in it and seen
    more of it and been higher up in its workings than you have. I have been there, to the very places
    where, if the modern day church could have been changed, it would have been changed….
    .
    A couple of interesting things happened to me about this time. One was being invited by a religious organization to fly all over America and personally interview the Christian leaders in religion and in government…. But again, everywhere I went, the more people I met, the more so-called Christian leaders I listened to, the more terrified I became…. I seriously wondered if we wouldn’t be just as well off leaving the whole thing alone.
    .
    It was at this point that I had another unique experience. It happened in the year that turned out to be my last year in the ministry.
    .
    Howard Pew, a very devout Presbyterian layman who was also head of one of the world’s largest oil companies and one of the wealthiest men in this country, got an idea. Why not call a national convention of Christians and try to save our land? To begin he decided to share his idea with some of the key Christian leaders of our age. An invitation went out to about 20 or 30 men to come to his hometown of Philadelphia. By an accident, a complete fluke, believe me, I was invited.
    .
    Each of us seated in that great conference room at the Union League was asked to stand and share what we felt was needed to save our land. The meeting was a real Christian’s “Who’s Who.” Billy Graham’s father-in-law, who was more or less representing him, sat next to me. He was asked to speak first. That meant I spoke last. I sat there all day listening to some of the key Christian figures of our age.
    .
    It just happened to have all taken place at the right time in my life. By afternoon, when they got to me, I was out of the religious system. I knew that if what I was seeing and hearing was the best that Christians had to offer this earth, if these were the giants, and these were their answers, then there wasn’t any hope for the church as we understand it in this age.

    [Note: I’m not promoting or recommending Gene Edwards. The solutions he has proposed and implemented have their own set of problems, as the many ex-Gene-Edwardsites (“Genies,” as a friend calls his followers) are willing to testify to. But his writings intrigued/influenced me many, many years ago, when I first began having inklings that EvangeWonderLand wasn’t all it claimed to be, or able to do what it claimed to do, and started poking around for some answers. Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s the rest of that speech: http://www.atlantasaints.com/how_we_began.pdf ]

    In skimming through Mere Churchianity I saw where Michael Spencer mentioned the alternatives to Evangelicalism he investigated. I think he listed about 13, everything from Revival committees to home/house churches (Gene Edwards’ specialty) to Orthodox/Catholic churches, etc., etc., and I think he said he was unable to find his answer or hope or solution for fixing Evangelicalism in any of them.

    So we have Michael Spencer 50 years later saying something similar to what Gene long, long ago discovered for himself about American Evangelicalism. Gene offered house churches. Michael offers “Jesus-Shaped Spirituality.” What will the verdict be 50 years from now?

    Maybe Evangelicalism can’t be fixed. But does that mean the alternatives are any better, despite what persons like Scott Hahn or Peter Gillquist might say? 🙂

    Can Christianity be fixed in any large sense? Even though G. K. Chesterton said that “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried,” Edwards’ and Spencer’s reading and experience and the baker’s dozen or so alternatives to Evangelicalism that Spencer lists he tried or at least looked at seem to show that Christianity has indeed been tried in as many ways as has been possible – or at least people have tried to try it, ’cause they know that SOMETHING isn’t working right with what they or “the church” are or have been doing.

    *sigh*

    • Christopher Lake says:

      EricW,

      I read Chesterton’s quote as meaning that skeptical people often scrutinize the “Christian ideal” from the outside but never actually enter into the *living* of the Christian life (trusting Christ and obeying Him)– while still claiming that they find the Christian ideal “wanting.” Gene and Michael obviously lived the Christian life, so they weren’t in the position of the curious-but-still-skeptical non-Christian whom Chesterton seems to be describing. Being a disgruntled member of the family (struggling evangelical/post-evangelical) is much different than being a non-family member (non-Christian) who criticizes the family.

      As for what Scott Hahn or Peter Gillquist say, the only way to know if what *they* describe can really be found and experienced in reality is to find, accept, actually join, and then stay for a good long while. 🙂 So, which will it be– Catholic or Eastern Orthodox? 🙂

      • Christopher:

        As you know, I WAS EOC for 3 years. 3 years in the Eastern Orthodox Church is like 15 years in the Roman Catholic Church if you do the fasts, confessions, services, prayers, etc., as you’re supposed to, which I did. 😀

        I’ve done/served (as opposed to “done served” => a Southernism) my time. 🙂

        If I ever revert, I’ll be a Copt or a Nestorian – they have more interesting hats and longer services. 😮

        • Christopher Lake says:

          Eric,

          Actually, I must have missed some of your comments here at IM (not hard to do, as there are so many posts and comments! :-)), because I didn’t know that you had been EOC! 🙂

          Maybe one day, the Catholic Church will bring back some of her more strict disciplines (practices)– although I might be the only person in the world who would actually *like* for that to happen! 🙂

          (I share your predilection for interesting hats and long services!)

          • I mentioned it in my response to your post in June 6, 2010 “The Comeback Kid?” thread wherein you wrote:

            Christopher Lake says:
            June 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm
            EricW,

            I could provide quite a few other quotes, from Ignatius and other early Fathers, showing that the early Church did believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However, it would probably just be better to recommend “Crossing the Tiber,” by Stephen K. Ray, for its entire section on the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the Eucharist.

            The thread with responses is here:

            http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-comeback-kid#respond

            and my response(s) to you is about 1/5 of the way down the page: June 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm and June 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm

          • Christopher Lake says:

            Thanks, Eric. I honestly had missed that response from you. I see the Church Fathers, from very early on, as clearly affirming teachings that you no longer think they affirm, but that is, perhaps. another conversation for another time. Peace!

          • Oh, you and I probably both agree that they affirm them.

            But we would disagree on the unanimity and unanimous understanding of that affirmation, as well as its correctness.

            Pax
            Shalom
            Eirênê

  21. Christopher Lake says:

    As I look forward to buying this book (next month… the joys of life on a limited income), I want to say that in more than one way, Michael’s writings have been instrumental in changing me. I write this with true embarrassment now, but for years, as a dedicated Reformed Baptist, I actually would not read this blog.

    The Calvinistic circles I was in at the time had honestly scared me too much with talk of “dangerous, “Emerging/Emergent” or “Catholic-friendly” evangelicalism. I had a vague but sadly misinformed and inaccurate sense that if I read Michael’s writings, they would possibly lead me away from the “purity” of Christ and His Gospel. I am not saying that this notion was right. Still less am I defending it. Really, I am lamenting all of the years that I spent *not* reading Michael’s “Jesus-shaped” work, only even beginning to read and appreciate it in the last two and a half years of his life.

    My Reformed Baptist friends may now think that their warnings have been proven correct. I’m no longer a Calvinist and may well be a reconciled, practicing Catholic soon. However, this blog was not at all a decisive factor in my moving away from Protestantism. Long before I re-considered the claims of the Catholic Church, Michael helped me to be a more loving and thoughtful Reformed Baptist. Thank you for that, Michael. May your writings continue to change the lives of many.

    • Christopher – Do you mind if I send you a quick e-mail? You can contact me at brian[at]asmallfaith[dot]org

      • Christopher Lake says:

        I’ll write you, Brian. I don’t want to give out my e-mail here– fervent Reformers may take advantage. 🙂