Thinking Out Loud

July 19, 2010

Bradley Wright’s Book: Conclusions

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:16 pm

I ended up covering a lot of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told in my initial review.

As I read the final one-third of the book, I continued to get into the rhythm of Bradley Wright’s careful and thorough analysis of data, and it leaves no doubt in my mind that you simply can’t believe everything you read; reinforced by this study (or non-study) by Jim Wallis released today on CNN’s Belief blog, suggesting that the youth are “deserting their parents’ theology in droves.”

Reading Wright’s book gives you a bit of immunity to these grandstanding announcements.

So assuming you saw my initial comments (there’s that link again!) what are my conclusions?

First, I think there is some truth to the idea that many writers say the best of what they have to say in the opening two or three chapters.  I found this to be true reading David Platt’s Radical, and it’s true here, also.    Much of the strength here as well is found in the opening 40-50 pages.

Secondly, I think the book — while it succeeds in so many areas — fails with respect to its title.   In fact, the writer does uncover a number if biases and prejudices we as Christians have toward outsiders and even about how we ourselves are perceived by them.

It almost seems like a case where an author submitted a manuscript, and someone in the editorial acquisitions department said, “Hey, I got a great title for this.”    The success of the title is to be found in the response it brings at the cash register, not in any strongly worded conclusions in the book itself on the issue of hypocrasy.

However, my recommendation stands.

What I would like to have seen at the end was a kind of a snapshot of the average U.S. Evangelical congregation on Sunday morning.   One that said something like, “Here is a church of 300 people.    Out of this number, faith and church is not the most important thing to 75 of them.   Sixty don’t believe in a literal hell.   Twelve of them are part of a household where there is ongoing domestic violence.   Forty have had an extra-marital affair at some point.”  (Quick generalizations from my memory of what I read; not Wright’s exact stats.)

That would be useful to pastors; but they can extract the same information with bookmarking, underlining and highlighting.

They’ll find the book very useful in that sense.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Last year, Bradley Wright’s Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Taught was seen as an appropriate rebuttal to David Kinnaman’s unChristian.  Two different approaches to the faith life of Americans; two different approaches; and often two very different sets of data.  I reviewed Wright’s first book in two parts, here and here. […]

    Pingback by The Glass is Half Full: Upside by Bradley Wright, PhD « Thinking Out Loud — July 28, 2011 @ 9:09 am

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