Book Review: Outlaw Christian

Outlaw Christian:  Finding Authentic Faith By Breaking The “Rules,” by Jacqueline A. Bussie

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

A reader, especially one who reads many books from Christian authors, should be aware of a book that claims to present a form of Christianity that breaks the rules and that appeals to the natural rebellious nature of mankind as a way of presenting a new Christianity that happens to be “cool” and leftist in nature.  The author cites books from others in this school of hipster, left-wing social Christianity that minimizes questions of moral law in order to play up themes of liberal white guilt, borrowing/smuggling themes of Buddhist spirituality in place of biblical truth, and lots of whining and angst about the evils of the world.  Literally dozens of books a lot like this one can be found in my library [1] cover much the same ground as this book, seeking to promote a pro-socialist political agenda, appealing to the desire of young people to rebel against manmade traditions and structures.  This book, and the many others like it, serve as one pole of a satanic dialectic, one playing up rebellion and freedom rather than obedient self-sacrifice and loyalty to institutions.  In terms of dealing with aspects of God’s nature, it emphasizes love and strongly under-emphasizes truth.

The chapters of this book are long, as if the author does not know quite how to manage her material well.  The book is relatively short at about 250 pages of core material, but the book feels bloated by padding, including the author’s bragging about her skills as a professor, her use of the material of other people who, like Job before he faces God, bring God up on charges in a covenantal lawsuit [2] of being mean and heartless towards defenseless and innocent human beings, as if God was obligated to explain Himself to us.  The author takes the side of Job against his friends, which is better than those works on theodicy that take the side of Job’s friends [3].  Rather than being a brutal truth-toting Calvinist, the author takes the side of an immensely rebellious Luther, which makes sense as she is Lutheran, albeit a very marginal one.  The entire contents of this book fit into six chapters urging people to become “outlaw Christians” like the author in the solitary search for radical authenticity and the shameless desire to pander to people of other religious backgrounds to show that Christians aren’t such bad people after all, appealing to people who claim themselves to be tired of dishonesty, angry at the Almighty, doubting their faith, sick of hearing that God has a plan, scared to tell their real stories (which include a lot of tales of rape and child abuse, including that of the author’s screenwriting husband) [4], or longing for hope.  The end result is what a book on Christianity would be if it was written by an angsty teen upset at all that was fake in professed Christianity and unjust in our broken and corrupt world but not soundly grounded in the Bible enough to be a fit teacher of divine truth.

Make no mistake, this is not by any means a good book.  Nevertheless, it is a book that likely was cathartic to the author herself.  If the book helped her wrestle with her concerns over the goodness of God in the face of the problems of evil, if it helped her to be at peace with her institutions despite the fact that they value a dishonest conformity and discourage the blunt discussion of unpleasant truths, then the book was a worthwhile one for her to write.  Sometimes people have to write material that is unpleasant to read, and sometimes downright terrible, as a way of coping with life themselves.  Sometimes such people even find a way for others to read the material, just as this book was published and will likely find an audience at least among those associates of the author on the social Gospel side of our culture’s Christian divide.  And, despite all that is wrong about this book, and there is a lot wrong, at least this book offers some compassion to those who struggle and who cannot deny the brokenness of the world and of the people in it.  Such books need to be written, but the world needs more than compassion and care from someone who does not know enough about Christianity or the Bible to teach it to others.  We deserve better from those who set themselves up to be teachers of the Way of God than books that offer petulant whining and peddle as many cliches as they seek to demolish.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/book-review-the-ragamuffin-gospel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/book-review-subversive-jesus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/book-review-surprise-the-world/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/book-review-kingdom-come/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/book-review-godonomics/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/book-review-pursuing-justice/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/book-review-hope-rising/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/book-review-strangers-at-my-door/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/book-review-uncovered/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/book-review-10-days-without/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/book-review-this-beautiful-mess/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/book-review-misfits-welcome/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/book-review-heavenly-bills/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/would-you-condemn-me-that-you-may-be-justified/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/job-vs-god-a-covenental-lawsuit-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/job-vs-god-a-covenantal-lawsuit-part-two/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/book-review-if-god-is-good/

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/an-introduction-to-the-naming-our-abuse-project/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, Satan's House Divided and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Book Review: Outlaw Christian

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