I recently asked Jason Berggren if I could review his book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. You have to admit; the title is enough to make anyone curious. I had no idea what to expect.
10 Things addresses a short list of potentially turn-off issues that seekers or fringers might inwardly battle while exploring the seemingly irrational or unreasonable beliefs of Christianity, such as Bible accuracy and authority, sin, rules, church, and certain behaviors by Christians. The great thing about this book is that the questions Jason approaches are honest questions—questions that Jason wrestled through in his own search of authentic faith. He does an excellent job of blending in his own experiences and honest struggles, while showing the reader his process of working through each “hate.” Jason cleverly helps the reader reconstructs his or her beliefs about God’s character and the Bible, arriving at a reasonable answer and understanding on each point.
One thing I really liked is that Jason did not over-simplify issues in an unbelievable or trite manner, but he addressed many of the issues with candor, expressing honest doubts, personal struggles with sin, and mental battles he faced in overcoming his own hates. About one of his sin battles, Jason shares:
“I hesitate to share that detail of my life. It would be easier to write about other people. You know, “my friend” or “someone I once knew.” But that would be insincere. It’s a disgusting part of my life. I think it clearly tells the story of the ugliness that’s waiting for an opportunity to surface in all of us at any time. …And that’s why I tell it.”
In one section, I applaud Jason’s humility in addressing those people reading the book who may have been hurt by the behaviors of certain Christians. Considering the target audience of this book, it is more than appropriate and thoughtful. Here is an excerpt from page 208:
“Whether you are or aren’t a Christian, I apologize on behalf of myself and all other Christians… I’m sorry we may have given you the wrong impression of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I’m sorry we may have given you a wrong expectation of what it means to pursue this faith. …There’s no excuse for bad behavior. Period.
“At times we’ve lied…been insensitive, taken advantage of situations, and pretended to be holier-than-thou. We’ve been standoffish, not repaid loans, not paid for things we broke, harped on your mistakes while cheating on our own taxes, pretended to care, called you names behind your back, and been argumentative. We’ve thought we’re always right, cut you off in traffic with our Christian stickers on the backs of our cars, been cheap…and talked to you in everyday conversations by using language you couldn’t understand. For all that, and much more, please accept my sincerest apologies. We’ve alienated you, judged you, been condescending to you, been unreliable, sold you short, not helped, and not been there to encourage you when you needed it…”
Toward the end of the book, Jason offers a challenge to well-groomed, perhaps indoctrinated (insensitive?) Christians. The main purpose of his challenge is to get Christians aspiring to be recognized for their behavior, not their title:
“Here’s my challenge to Christians: Consider no longer calling yourself a ‘Christian.’ Take a few seconds to think about what it would mean if you had to stop using that term to describe yourself. What would you have to do? Most likely, you’d be forced to do something drastic. Above all else, you’d have to consider your attitude and actions in everything. Like never before, you’d have to take into account how you represent the truth hidden in your heart…”
In my opinion, 10 Things is a great stepping-stone for those who are trying to find their way over personal stumbling blocks on their way to belief.