Since this is a book about statistics, may I begin by saying that I am about 64% through this book, having just started yesterday.
Whereas unChristian by David Kinnaman is a book about those outside the church, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley R. E. Wright, PhD (Bethany House, 2010) is very much a book about those inside the church, especially Evangelicals.
But there the similarity ends, because while Kinnaman is a researcher for Barna Group, Wright, a sociologist, takes direct aim at many Barna Research studies, the manner in which they are published, and the spin that alarmist Christians and headline-hungry press put on them. (And since one of the bullet points in my recommendation of unChristian was its affiliation with Barna, it really undermines the credibility of that book by default, even though isn’t footnoted in the chapters I’ve covered so far; the author does reference Barna Group’s Revolution several times.)
In Bradley Wright’s view, the sky is not falling, the church is not necessarily decaying, and there no substantiation for giving up hope. This flies in the face of people like Josh McDowell, author of The Last Christian Generation, a book and writer that Wright refers to, but not by name (you have to read the footnotes.) Wright’s detesting of statistical manipulation is evidenced from the opening chapter.
This is probably the best book I’ve seen for North American Evangelical pastors who want to better understand who exactly is sitting in the pews on Sunday (and who is away that week!) But it’s far from a leadership book; anyone who wants to be conversant on where the church is heading, or has a concern about the so-called “last generation” should read this. There are many graphs and charts and explanation of the sociological method, but it should not deter anyone from getting some benefit from this thorough work.
I did some post-review research here to see if David Kinnaman and Bradley Wright are linked anywhere in the blogosphere; one writer connected the two in passing back in 2008, the same year Wright himself reviewed Kinnaman’s book. More recently, Louis McBride tries to connect some dots in a July 4 blog post at the (biased) Baker Book House Connection blog, and a day later, an excellent review is posted by Scott Sidusky. You might also enjoy the 18-minute interview at the Drew Marshall show; click here and scroll down to May 22.