book review: the christian atheist

Written by Glynn Young

Glynn Young is the team lead for online strategy and communications for a Fortune 500 company in the Midwest. He blogs at http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com

February 11, 2011

The title of this book is by itself an attention grabber. But it’s not about some famous Christian becoming an atheist or some famous atheist becoming a Christian. Instead, it about all of us who say we are Christians.

Craig Groeschel’s thesis in “The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God but don’t Really Know Him” is simple and straightforward: we talk a good game of believing in Jesus Christ, but how we live and how we act is another story.

In each succeeding chapter, Groeschel, the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Edmund, Oklahoma, describes exactly why we profess to Christians but act like atheists: we don’t really know who God is; we ashamed of our pasts; we aren’t sure God loves us; we don’t pray; we don’t think God’s fair; we won’t forgive; we trust more in money; we don’t think we can change; we don’t believe in “church.”

The reader’s discomfort factor keeps rising through the book because it’s all too familiar, too recognizable.

Reading this book is like looking in a mirror.

I started with some basic skepticism, until I hit what Groeschel says on page 42, when he describes all the different words we use to describe God – words that fill gaps in our own lives. Words like this: “When you feel totally alone, perhaps you call him ‘Friend.’ Maybe your earthly father has never been there for you, and to you God is ‘Father.’”

Nailed. Guilty as charged.

Groeschel isn’t content to point fingers at others. He talks a lot about his own life, and his own failings. He would call himself just as much a Christian atheist as anyone else. He understands the gap between saying something and doing something, because he’s lived and lives that gap. We all do.

But we have a gracious God, a God who showers grace upon us. “The Christian Atheist” is one of those droplets.

10 Comments

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    I absolutely loved the book. I recommend it to anyone.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      Thanks for the recommendation Bill! Glad to hear that you liked it too!

      Reply
  2. nance|marie

    it seems as if i keep coming back to this book that i have read lately. but, it keeps applying. what is being said here about us making God into what we want Him to be is part of what is covered in the book “the knowledge of the Holy” by a.w. tozer. in this book, tozer covers the attributes of God, the being of God, in order to think rightly about God.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      this idea of making God what we want him to be is probably one of the most devastating traps that Christians can fall into. not only do we run the risk of misrepresenting God, but also limiting Him in what He can do in our lives.

      Reply
  3. Brock S. Henning

    Sounds like a good read, especially when you talk about how Groeschel describes the ways we think of God…Friend…Father. That crosses my mind a lot, and indeed how my image of God often ties back to the image of my own father and grandfather.

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      excellent points Brock! we often project those images of what we know onto what we cannot see… sometimes that’s good, but sometimes it’s bad. hmm… i smell another post brewing!

      Reply
  4. Crystal

    This is a great review – I haven’t read this book, but your review definitely makes me add it to my must read list!!

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      Agreed! Glynn did a GREAT job on this review! I love it when a review for something actually has value in itself like this…

      Reply
  5. Lyla Lindquist

    I appreciate Glynn’s review of Groeschel’s book. I just finished leading my adult Sunday school through the text. I was a little skeptical at first — his writing style is so accessible I was afraid he was going to dumb it down.

    He didn’t. His writing sneaks up on you a little. Gets you snickering, usually at his own missteps, and then sort of blindsides you with this “okay, now what about you?” I thought many of the chapters would have lent themselves to a full book discussion, and perhaps that was my disappointment, that sometimes we barely scratched the surface.

    This idea of living in a way that is consistent with what we profess — a lot like Tim Chester’s treatment of the gap between confessional faith and functional faith — seems to be such a thorn in the side. We know what we say, and we want to really believe it. But truth be told, we just don’t always.

    For me, nearly every chapter came down to one core issue: Do I trust Him enough to live like I believe this is true? Seems it always comes back to trust…

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      this is a great explanation of @craiggroeschel’s style! i love how he point’s the finger at himself first before he points it around at us… in fact he doesn’t even point it at us… he asks us to do the same thing that he does, and has us ask ourselves tough questions as he does.

      i’m glad to hear that you enjoyed glynn’s review of the book, but also happy to hear that you had a good experience with it in your sunday school class! thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts lyla! it’s always great to hear from you!

      Reply

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book review: the christian atheist

by Glynn Young time to read: 2 min
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