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unChristian: What a New Generation Really…

unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and… (2007)

by David Kinnaman

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    Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway by Frank Schaeffer (juglicerr)
    juglicerr: These two are books that will likely infuriate conservative Christians, but provide a lot to ponder and educate those willing to reflect on what they are saying. Liberal Christians agnostics, and atheists may love both of them.

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Anti-homosexual, judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, too political, out of touch with reality, insensitive to others, and boring - that is what people outside of Christianity think of the church, in that order. This isn't necessarily what those same people would say about Jesus, just the people who claim to follow him. And as a follower of Jesus, this is some sobering truth.

In the chapter titled Antihomosexual, they boldly and plainly state that Christians have often responded in un-christian ways. This is followed by examples pointed out by outsiders such as "Christians believe events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina are God's judgment on homosexuals."
And the statistics should have us examining hypocrisy as well with statements like "Born agains are more likely to disapprove of homosexuality than divorce: 4 out of 5 say that homosexual relations between two consenting adults should be illegal." They then get into the root of the problem by pointing out that "the outsiders we interviewed explained that most Christians seem to spend little energy on actually getting to know homosexuals or what happens in the lives of those who have some type of same-sex encounter or attraction." I think that in regards to the Christian church, its response to the homosexual community is about the ugliest. I'm so thankful for the information about it because it allows me to better understand the hurt caused by my brothers and sisters, done to my brothers and sisters.

I didn't grow up in the church, so I think it's easier for me to see what it looks like from the outside looking in - and that is exactly the perspective that David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons were researching. For the Christian church, just like any organization, it is difficult to get a clear idea of what it would be like for someone else to experience you. Not only do we have insider information as to why things are done or not done, but our view is skewed because it is personal. And, sometimes we're just messing up. The Fermi Project and the Barna Institute have collaborated to bring 3 years of research together to illuminate these difficult facts. Instead of using this knowledge to revamp the Christian church's image or defend it's honor, unChristian addresses it and strives to fix the root of the problem: we haven't been acting like Jesus.

I liked this book a lot. I have a great concern for how Christians treat those outside of the church and am always looking for ways I can live like I'm following Jesus more authentically. I encourage you to go check it out for yourself at the unChristian website where you can download the Too Political chapter for free. ( )
  rickynicholes | Jan 25, 2013 |
I thought this had a lot of thought provoking insights as to how Christians are seen and a ways to start changing now. ( )
  nirrad | Oct 20, 2011 |
Unchristian is based on the Barna Institute’s detailed research among young adults about their primary perceptions of Christianity -- which are primarily negative. Sandwiched between introductory and concluding chapters, the book provides 1 chapter for each of the following perceptions (chapter titles in bold, portions in parentheses are my words, clarifying points I think he was trying to make): Hypocritical; “Get Saved” (viewing people only as potential targets for conversion); Antihomosexual (often in an obsessive and hateful way); Sheltered (isolationist; not open to those who are different from ourselves); Too Political (too cozy with political power structures); Judgmental (and very quick to judge those who appear different from us.) He asserts that many Christians are turning people off from their message in droves by failing to act on basic principles that Jesus taught and lived by – particularly the commandment to love others as God has loved us (unconditionally), and the most foundational principle of grace. To often, Christians' behavior is UNChristian.

Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would be surprised by these results; they’ve been issues I've had with certain church people, especially in some of Christianity's more conservative branches, for much of my life. My husband is a pastor; I’ve worked in various capacities of church ministries, and I’ve been frustrated by the lack of love and grace often displayed in the name of God by many of those who claim to follow Jesus. (I’ve also seen tremendous love and grace, but too often that is not the face that the Church – especially the more aggressive expressions of it – shows to the world.)

It’s worth noting that this book is by, for, and about the more conservative forms of Christianity. Kinnaman focuses on those whom he defines as Born Again Christians, and particularly that more conservative subset that he defines as Evangelicals, of which he is a part. Since different Christians may define these terms differently (my own tradition defines itself as Evangelical, but with a totally different take on the word than is prevalent today), I suppose it makes sense to have working definitions in place for the book. (I did get the feeling that Kinnaman felt that only Evangelicals – as he defined them – were fully living the Christian life.) The conservative focus, of course, influences how he recommends addressing the issues uncovered by his findings.

I think this book makes a lot of valid points, and it’s obvious from the research that there are a lot of folks who need to take notice. I may quibble with some details of his solutions and theology, but the basic finding is spot on: for the sake of the Gospel, Christians must observe more faithfully the commands to “love neighbor as self” and “judge not lest you be judged.” These are commands where we all fall short and, thus, have no standing to judge others who are different from ourselves. ( )
24 vote tymfos | Jul 15, 2010 |
I had no desire to read this book when it was originally published. However, my school recently gave new students a free copy of the book. Desiring to read something before the heavy onslaught of classes, I decided to read it. I wasn't very impressed. Kinnaman's research may be stellar, but his presentation is too long and lacks significant insight. In essence, Kinnaman doesn't present new concepts nor does he provide refreshing solutions. He uses data to show how flawed the church is today. Without a doubt, Christians need to be made aware of how they're perceived; however, a pamphlet would have been sufficient. The reason I think Kinnaman's book ultimately fails to inspire change is his lack of communicating and engaging effectively the multifaceted church. The church is one, but a fragmented one. Different schools of theology create different Christian realities, and his book doesn't seem to provide any real answer to unifying these various fragments. I am in no way advocating a one world church (I think it's out of the question), but I do believe that authors cannot be so naive as to think that we can really change the perceptions when we are so fragmented.

I would recommend this book for people who are interested in the various opinions of Christians. However, do not expect solutions. ( )
  erikssonfamily | Feb 3, 2010 |
I thought this was a good book, and an enjoyable read, despite the stats based focus. It is frustrating to hear all of the bad experiences due to Christians who do not act as they should. Knowing that there are times where I may have caused some to dislike the church is humiliating.
There are definitely hard times ahead for the church as public opinion begins to grow against it. ( )
  tyroeternal | Dec 2, 2009 |
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Christianity has an image problem.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801013003, Hardcover)

Based on groundbreaking Barna Group research, unChristian uncovers the negative perceptions young people have of Christianity and explores what can be done to reverse them.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Based on research conducted on 16- to 29-year-old non-believers, and featuring responses from a vast array of Christian leaders, shows how modern society perceives Christians and explores what can be done to reverse those negative perceptions.

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