Book review: A Faith of Our Own

by Jonathan Merritt

★★★★★

This is a book every Christian in America should read.

While I manage to avoid politics on my blog, I have been a little less successful on social media. This past election was scary and embarrassing. I have never felt our country so divided in my lifetime, and I have especially never felt Christians so divided.

Enter Merritt’s new book, with its subtitle of Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars. Merritt is an evangelical Southern Baptist, but the identification means little. A new wave of Christians are growing up in the church, and making a positive course correction by moving beyond partisan politics, following Jesus without fighting the culture wars.

For many, having churched in an us-versus-them atmosphere, this new wave will be uncomfortable. Merritt tells how, having been raised in a conservative family with ties to the “so-called Religious Right,” he thought faithful followship of Jesus meant defeating liberals.* Like Forward contributor Kirsten Powers, I, too, have been asked, “How can you be a Democrat and a Christian?” Oddly, I sometimes wonder the opposite: How can you be a Republican and a Christian? So, Merritt set me straight as much as he did the GOP.

The new wave of young Christians have so had it with partisan politics that they are voting not for Christian principles but against culture wars. A poll conducted by Relevant magazine during the election year—a publication influential among young Christians—asked “Who would Jesus vote for?” The majority of respondents were self-described conservatives, and yet their top response was Barack Obama. Horrors!

Today, we know who won. Obama and the conservatives. Eh??

Take the issue of homosexuality. Merritt waffles all over the place, like he can’t make up his mind what his stance should be. To a lesser extent, he does the same with a short discussion on abortion. Even I was frustrated as I read! Get off the fence, man! Only later does Merritt explain that he purposefully avoids contentious issues as a distraction to the hands-on teachings of Jesus. Jesus didn’t ask Peter to picket the wolves, but to feed the sheep, right?

Chastised, I realized that I had forgotten the spirit of my own recent book. Merritt has hit the nail on the head, and accomplished it with a book that you won’t be able to put down.

* Liberals = “a cantankerous minority of secular humanists attempting to chase Jesus out of God-blessed America.”

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