The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as if He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel

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I have added an ending to this review after reconsidering it a bit.  I have not edited the original review, just added at the end.

Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

The Christian Atheist is a great book title.  I have heard a number of people recommend this book so I picked it up for my Audible.com account.  It is short, just under 6 hours on audio (256 pages in hardback).  In some ways, I was disappointed.  Especially the early chapters were more evangelism than really calling the church to live and follow God.  I guess that is not all bad.  It gets everyone to the same starting place.

There were several chapters toward the end that I thought were very good.  The chapters on Money, Worry, Prayer were essentially what I thought I was getting when I bought the book.  In one way or another Groeschel re-works a similar idea, he tells a story about himself or someone else that shows that while they claim that they are a Christian, they are not actually living like they trust that God is actually their God and capable.  Then he concludes with a similar story but where the person follows God as they should.  Then the next topic.

The Christian Atheist is simply a person that claims that God is their God, but does not trust God to care for them, or answer their prayers, or be able to change them from their sin, etc.  I think this is a book that the church really needs.  But I am also saddened that the church needs this book.  (I am not saying that I was not convicted several times about areas where I am not fully trusting God.)  This is not the meat of Christianity, this is the milk.  There is nothing here that is really beyond what should be fairly basic Christianity.  However, I know that much of Church is not ready to trust God for the basics.  How can we claim to want to change the world or reform our country, etc., if we don’t trust God to actually be God?

So I am recommending this book with some reservations.  If you have recently read, Radical by David Platt, or Crazy Love or Forgotten God by Francis Chan or Primal by Mark Batterson or Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet or Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani or any of the dozen or so other similar themed books that have come out in the last two years, skip this one.  Essentially it is the same book, repackaged for a slightly different reader.  Instead, figure out how to put into practice what you have already read.  If you have not read one other the others and you feel your faith is lacking, then this is one of the better calls to live for God as we have been called to live.

________

After a few days I am not sure my review is entirely fair.  Many times what one calls “milk” another calls “meat” not because there is a difference of the content, but because there is a difference in the person the is receiving the content.  It may even be that something that is considered milk will later be considered meat because the reader is at a different place and can appreciate the content differently.  I read a review today of another book and the reviewer said the book was probably most appropriate for the very new Christian or the very mature Christian.  Those in between probably just wouldn’t get much out of it.  Maybe that is my problem with this book.  I honestly did get something out of it, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, so my expectations distorted my reality.

3 Comments

Do you have suggestions on what to read if you want meat instead of milk (in this topic vein)?

    I think it is harder. In part because books like this are fairly general and cover a wide swath of topics. So you probably want to look at several categories. I liked his section on prayer. If you like that and want more. Read my review of A Praying Life by Paul Miller – http://www.mrshields.com/a-praying-life-by-paul-m… (I am going to post a six month re-reading review on Monday, but I mean my original). I detailed a group of books on prayer and why each one was valuable.

    The being the church section was OK. But if you want more then read Bonhoeffer's Life Together. It is short, but very deep.

    I personally, think that it is hard to get too far into spiritual 'meat' until we honestly start working on spiritual disciplines. http://www.mrshields.com/spiritual-disciplines-fo… I am going to re-read in the next month. But Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline is very similar. You don't have to do everything. Just pick one or two areas of weakness and start working on it.

    Another area that is inherently deeper is Humility. One of the better books I have read I reviewed http://www.mrshields.com/humility-true-greatness-… But Andrew Murray has a public domain book called Humility that I have had recommended to me as well.

    Honestly, I am not sure how much meat I am really capable of handling. We are all "educated beyond our obedience". So part of my frustration I think is that we keep writing on what we should do as Christians but it takes us actually doing it. My frustration is at least partially aimed at me for not putting enough into practice.

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