Book Review: How To Be A Perfect Christian

How To Be A Perfect Christian:  Your Comprehensive Guide To Flawless Spiritual Living, by the Babylon Bee

[Note:  This book was a complementary gift for joining the Waterbrook/Multnomah Book Launch team.  No review was required, but of course I’m reviewing it.]

I eagerly anticipated receiving this book–especially because there was so much buzz about it online–in part because I have previously enjoyed reading material by the Babylon Bee in small doses.  Yet reading this book left me with a sour taste about the approach and advice of the authors and their viewpoint given the contradictory and protean nature of what they were writing.  Reading this book led me to wonder if the authors were aware of the contradictions within their advice and even whether their satirical approach to contemporary Christianity was itself a worthwhile pursuit, especially in book-length form.  By and large the authors seem like hipsters [1] who delight in painting a picture of a “perfect” Christian as being rather harsh and condemnatory while being the same themselves to those they view as being worthy of their scorn and contempt in this exceedingly broad satire.  There is clearly a lot in contemporary Christianity that is worthy of criticism, but if the authors spent more time seeking to promote an exegetical view of scripture, they would likely find themselves receiving plenty of worthy criticism as well.  I suppose it is easier to throw stones than to use them to help edify the body of Christ.

After an introduction that assumes the reader is some kind of pilgrim towards “perfect” Christianity, the book consists of ten chapters.  First, the authors suggest how to join the right church (1).  After this there is a discussion on how to “worship like a pro” (2), presumably because many musical ministries involved paid musicians.  Then there is a discussion about doing life together (3), but not in a way that Bonhoeffer would have imagined.  A guide on how to serve without ever lifting a finger (4) and a suggestion on how to look really spiritual online through #humblebragging on social media (5) then follows, before the authors give their advice on striving for personal perfection (6) and conforming to mainstream Christian beliefs (7).  Avoiding worldliness comes next (8) before the authors do their own ironic crusading against heathens in flame wars (9) and fight on the front lines of the culture war (10).  Most of the chapters end with a discussion of spiritual progression so that the reader supposedly ends up tight with Jesus Christ and more righteous than all kinds of godly biblical figures.

It is hard to understand what positive contribution this book provides to the concern within Christianity about how to live godly lives in an increasingly ungodly world.  It is easy to poke fun of superficial Christians or to think that some believers go overboard in trying to live their lives in strict accordance with God’s ways, but ridiculing such people is not the godly response.  The authors themselves encourage a belief that they are somehow above the often simplistic attitudes that so many professed Christians have but their advice here is deeply contradictory.  At times they make fun of ministries that focus on social media buzz and catch phrases and worldly gimmicks but at other times they make fun of sincere people who wish to homeschool their kids to help them grow up without being bombarded by immorality and corrupt public schooling.  The contradictions of this work and the fact that the authors make no positive stand on how it is that we are to live suggests both that they view contemporary Christianity as being worthy of ridicule and that they consider themselves somewhat superior to those they criticize on the grounds of the supposed superiority that a “perfect Christian” feels.  Pot, meet kettle.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: How To Be A Perfect Christian

  1. Pingback: Satire In An Age Of Self-Ownership | Edge Induced Cohesion

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