Mark Steele,
What If We're Not Really Following Jesus at All?

(David C. Cook, 2009)

Mark Steele takes a simple idea -- that we are living lives that are not truly Christian but instead consist of some imitation of Christianity, some false replica of it -- and blows it up to almost 300 pages. The church, he says, has drifted away from the true teachings of Christ, preferring instead to wallow in dysfunction and semi-secular messages. Worse, he says, we try to center on Jesus and his teachings in church, but we don't take those same principles into other areas of our lives, such as our business lives, our way of treating other people, our habits and manner of speech.

The way we live is similar to a Christian life but not the same. Instead of being Christian, it is "Christianish." As long as we please the right godly people and ignore our guilt when we fail, we believe we are all right. But that's not what Christ taught and, according to Steele, we should be emulating Christ, not the church. In fact, the church should be emulating Christ, too.

Steele's is an important message but, as a reader, I've got a few problems with the book. First, he's not that graceful a writer. His development technique is to state something and follow up the statement with a series of sentence fragments. Second, he has structured the book as a sort of memoir; most of the examples come from his own experience and he hasn't managed to make the examples quite as compelling as they should be. And, third, there simply isn't enough material here to sustain a book of this length. After a while, the repetititon sets in and you feel you've already read whatever point he is discussing.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

24 October 2009

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