Published by B&H Publishing Group on May 1st 2014
Genres: Christian Church, Christian Life, General, Men's Issues, Religion, Spiritual Growth
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Alex Himaya writes for those who have been hurt by religious people– who have been betrayed by religion– because he too has been wounded. No longer content with pretending those things don't happen, pastor Himaya retreats with readers back to the Scriptures to see what Jesus thinks about man-made religion.Himaya, a popular speaker and Bible teacher, draws upon years of pastoral experience, providing insight into the ways religion cripples the church. While it may seem reasonable to earn one's way to God through a works-based system, a religion of rules, Himaya warns readers of the danger of putting their faith in good deeds.Jesus Hates Religion is not simply another book about Christianity, but a detour sign on the road of life. Hiamaya points readers away from himself, and towards Jesus saying, "Don't trust me. Trust God, and let Him speak for Himself."
Hm. What to say about this one? The title is a stroke of marketing genius, as it will have religious liberals picking up the book and saying, “YEAH!!” without reading it and conservative Christians picking up the book so that they can vehemently disagree with everything in it, before reading it.
Besides that? I found the material redundant and I think that this book could have benefited from some editing. It’s 256 pages with one premise: Ditch the idea that you need good works to get into heaven and realize that it is grace (grace that is given freely and without strings) alone that gets you there. I’m pretty sure Martin Luther covered this material already. Throw in a little John Calvin style predestination for some zip, shake vigorously.
I get the idea from the book that this may have been a blog first, but the blog does not appear to be active any longer. This could be part of the problem. This is a hard book for me to review as an atheist, I think because this is less of an apologetic and more of… something else. I like reading apologetics because they get me out of my comfort zone (sometimes). Unlike other apologists, Himaya (despite the blurb) is not attempting to bring people back to Christ (or even to Christ for the first time) – he seems to be preaching to the choir. (Pun, totally intended.)
I read apologetics and I like to debate with myself over whether or not the work will help progress society forward (The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion), pull society back (How to Talk to a Skeptic), or just piss off agnostics and atheists (See again, How to Talk to a Skeptic). This book is kind of null in all those categories.
This book is going to be ideal for conservative evangelicals who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. That’s a demographic that I constantly struggle to understand and I don’t feel like this book sheds any light on them. (See what I did there?) That being said, its emphasis is not on spreading the gospel (though of course it is mentioned), it’s about people’s personal relationships with their God and Jesus. Okay. Cool? I guess?
Though it’s not addressed a whole lot in the book I feel a compulsion to continue to correct the notion that atheists are all people who have been ‘hurt’ or ‘betrayed’ by religion. Speaking for myself and other atheists I know well, I find that this is more often than not absolutely not the case. My reasons for being an atheist have nothing to do with anger at a god or the church. (That’s a story for another post… or email me if you’re really curious.)
I guess the big problem as a reviewer that I have is that it’s not very original. Maybe for the demographic its a great reminder on what being a Christian should mean to them. But even trying on those shoes to read this book, it fell pretty flat.
What about you, Reader? Have you read a book that hasn’t lived up to the hype of its excellent title recently?