Book Review: All Together Different

All Together Different:  Upholding The Church’s Unity While Honoring Our Individual Identities, by J. Brian Tucker & John Koessler

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

When reading a book like this one has to look for an agenda on the part of the author.  One does not write a book like this without one, and while at times authors are open and up front about their agendas, at times authors are less than candid.  In this case, the authors are at least open about the fact that they wish for churches to be more sensitive and more responsive to individual identities of people, including racial, sexual, and gender identities, while attempting to baptize their view of identity theory in enough scripture to make it passable for those who see the Bible as the ultimate authority.  Although I am someone who cares a great deal about identity [1], I find the authors’ views about identity politics to be less than persuasive and at times bordering on if not crossing over into what is offensive.  At times the authors seem clueless that genuine Christians have always at all times and in all places been sojourners, and not just in our present evil age.  Overall, this is a book which has worthwhile insights although the language used to convey those insights is highly technical and sometimes less than helpful in demonstrating the author’s credibility as experts.

This book is about 250 pages long and is divided into ten chapters, with the last chapter summing up the book and providing the lessons the authors wished to convey in the previous nine chapters.  After an introduction the authors write about our societal identity crisis (1) and urge readers to see themselves in God’s mirror (2).  The authors use secular culture (3) as a way of providing a mirror into the preoccupations of people outside of the church and as a way of building bridges.  After that the author talks about the nature of “in crowds” and the way that our thoughts and perceptions can be distorted by group identity (4) before looking at the multiplicity of identities that believers can carry with them (5) as well as that are present within the church.  The authors then spend some time specifically examining issues of race, ethnicity, and identity (6) as well as gender (7) and generational differences (8) before closing with a downbeat discussion of the decline of traditional views of morality in the face of the culture wars of the last few decades (9) before concluding (10).

Unfortunately, this book’s insights are hindered by it being written by people who appear to be overschooled and underchurched.  The authors clearly want to appeal to a hip audience that treasures the involvement of women and minorities but the authors find themselves in somewhat of an uncanny valley that is likely to offend both sorts of audiences they wish to appeal to.  On the one hand, their highly technical and nonbiblical language is likely to offend those who point to the primacy of the Bible in determining questions of identity and who are likely to (rightly) suspect the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of those who spout identity and generational theory as if it was gospel truth.  On the other hand, the authors’ call for Christians to live as outsiders and sojourners in an increasingly heathen and ungodly culture are likely to offend those who believe that a hip portrayal of the Gospel is all that is necessary to appeal to those who are outside of contemporary Christendom.  As this book is neither biblically sound nor couched to appeal to its intended audiences, one wonders whether this is the sort of book that will be read by those losing their biblical faith in the process of spending years at seminary like so many other books of this kind.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/02/o-canada-or-finding-identity-in-negative-spaces/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/05/05/the-rigidity-of-dystopian-identity/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/23/on-the-formation-of-class-identity/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2010/12/02/names-i-call-myself-a-musing-on-the-politics-of-self-identity/

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, E Pluribus Unim and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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