Book Review: “Undiluted” by Benjamin L. Corey

I read this book in October and have meant to review it on the blog, but have been consumed with life transitions (also the case for Becky, a busy working mother who is expecting number 3!).  It’s really hard to conceptualize blog posts when your brain is overloaded with learning a new job, facing big life decisions, caring for children, and trying to make radical self-care a priority (i.e. sleeping normal human being amounts).  But Benjamin L. Corey (I’ll just use BLC for the rest of this review) posted this pic on FB this week and I LOVED it and it has inspired me to meet you here for a little book talk:

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As usual, BLC does not shy away from controversy, as you can see in the comments if you click on the pic and go to the original FB post.  I agree 100% with his observation and was encouraged to see him make such a bold, public statement.

When Becky and I started this blog, I realized I didn’t know anything about blogging and that got me into reading blogs in a very big way.  I found BLC’s blog, formerlyfundie.com, and also his podcast with Matthew Paul Turner, That God Show, sometime early last year and have been learning a lot from him regarding pacifism, enemy love, living a life that displays God’s love to the disenfranchised and hurting, etc.  I appreciate his perspective on current issues in American Christianity and regarding the harmful aspects of fundamentalist culture.

I also discovered that we have a few things in common:  BLC lives in Maine, is a Gordon-Conwell alum, and we have a some mutual friends.  Logan and I have been able to meet BLC and his wife on a couple of occasions.  I am always thrilled to make new friends, but especially am happy to meet some local Progressive Christians in a state that is #1: the most unchurched state in our country, and #2: churches here are typically very fundy or very liberal.  There is a desperate need for Christians to examine our culture and why it is that our neighbors are not recognizing Jesus in our lifestyles.

In addition to being a two-time Gordon-Conwell graduate, he is currently working on a Ph.D. in Missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary.  His writing has appeared on various platforms including HuffPost, Red Letter Christians, Sojourners and Evangelicals for Social Action.

So that brings me to BLC’s book, “Undiluted” (click on image for link to Amazon).

download

Here is the description as it appears on Amazon:

Are you ready to begin experiencing an undiluted Jesus?

Benjamin Corey confronts our vision of Jesus head-on, asking the hard question: Is what we see and hear in the modern church all there is to the message of Jesus… or is there a more radical side to Jesus than we have been led to believe?

Get ready to encounter a Jesus that is determined to turn over the tables of a stale, ineffective and boring gospel that seeks to escape from the world instead of transforming it.

This radical Jesus and His message…

  • Invites us to reorient our lives not on Christian religion, but on the person of Jesus
  • Calls us to live out faith in the context of authentic community with others, instead of isolation
  • Includes the excluded and invites the outcast to have a seat at the table
  • Responds to enemies with a radical, unexplainable love

Undiluted will invite you to step out of your comfort zone and into a process of rediscovering the radical, counter cultural, and life-changing message of Jesus. As you do, you’ll discover a more vibrant faith as you embrace an undiluted Jesus and His radical message!

What I most appreciate about this book is its autobiographical presentation.  BLC takes us on the journey of his spiritual transformation from fundamentalist to progressive, with all of the highs, lows and traumas along the way.  I was able to relate to so many of his experiences, coming from a similar background and going through a similar faith shift in my adulthood.

One of the most unfair assessments of progressive Christianity is that it dilutes God’s Truth in an effort to be culturally relevant.  BLC demonstrates throughout his book that peeling away the layers of American Christian culture actually undiluted his faith in Christ rather than weakening it.  When there are rigid, prescribed positions on all issues, as is the case in very conservative churches, there is little room for examination, humility and debate.  You cannot even consider other points of view.  This dehumanizes people whose experiences and knowledge have led them to differing positions than your own, as you do not even give them the gracious gift of a listening ear.  You are always approaching conversations as a battle to be won, rather than seeing the nuance of complex issues and differing points of view.

I am not personally throwing my hat in the Progressive Christian ring (yet).  But I am deeply appreciative of BLC and others sharing their experiences as Christians of my generation, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the Christian culture that we grew up in, and doing their best to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ to their neighbors and the world.  I would encourage you to pick up a copy of “Undiluted”, check out FormerlyFundie.com, and let me know what you think in the Comments.


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