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How to Be a Bad Christian-- And a Better Human Being

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30 review for How to Be a Bad Christian-- And a Better Human Being

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book may have saved my faith. It cuts through all the dogma and self righteousness to focus on what really matters in the spiritual life.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pete F

    I found this book in the library and was intrigued by its title: 'How to be a bad Christian...And a better Human Being.' It jumped out to me and I just had to borrow it! The author, Dave Tomlinson, is a vicar in the Church of England, who for some years ran a church called Holy Joes at a pub in South London, for disaffected churchgoers and those who had never been to church and would be unlikely to. His Christianity is one I can relate to, being inclusive, liberal and somewhat unorthodox. He arg I found this book in the library and was intrigued by its title: 'How to be a bad Christian...And a better Human Being.' It jumped out to me and I just had to borrow it! The author, Dave Tomlinson, is a vicar in the Church of England, who for some years ran a church called Holy Joes at a pub in South London, for disaffected churchgoers and those who had never been to church and would be unlikely to. His Christianity is one I can relate to, being inclusive, liberal and somewhat unorthodox. He argues for a new paradigm in Christianity, one that embraces other faiths and people who are spiritual but don't attend church and which celebrates nature, something that is sadly lacking in many churches. The author reminds us that the early Christians in the New Testament were known as 'People of the Way'. This implied that they were on a journey and had not reached their destination. As are we all, in this life, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Atheist or whatever. Therefore, perfection is not expected. This vicar is very down-to-earth, who enjoys discussions with pagans and people in pubs, a beer or two and even the odd smutty joke. Not the sort of vicar, then, who causes conversation to stop when he enters a room! And why not, pray? He does that, too. Pray, that is, and offers the Prayer of Serenity, used by people following the 12 Steps method to overcome addiction. Many people have heard of the laughing Buddha, but how many have heard of the laughing Jesus. Thanks to paintings by Renaissance artists, Jesus has a somewhat stern image. But in the New Testament he enjoys mixing with pagans and publicans, the sort of people generally regarded as sinners by the religious establishment of his day, and attended parties, not the sort of activities one would expect of a joyless prophet or son of God! I would go as far as to say that the type of Christianity that Tomlinson espouses has something in common with Taoism (Tao means The Way, incidentally). The Tao of Jesus, perhaps, rather than Pooh! The Gospel of Thomas, considered by orthodox Christians to be unorthodox because it was one of the Gospels left out of the NT, is quoted with approval. The author distinguishes between faith and belief. Faith, he says, is trust. Belief is more about following a set of rules. Orthodoxy means right beliefs or opinions. Orthopraxy means right practice. Tomlinson comes down firmly on the side of Orthopraxy, spiritual practice rather than religious correctness. I like this book and would recommend it to people who have left the church, people who have never been to church, and even to a fundamentalist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gerard Kelly

    If (Justin) Lee and (Scott) Evans can legitimately be described as post-evangelical pilgrims, the grandfather of their movement is Dave Tomlinson. His 1995 book ‘The Post Evangelical’ was prescient of much that has happened since, and though controversial at the time would now be seen by many as tame. Much of what McLaren, Bell and co have written in recent years owes something of its courage to Tomlinson. His new book “How to Be a bad Christian, And a Better Human Being” updates his own pilgrim If (Justin) Lee and (Scott) Evans can legitimately be described as post-evangelical pilgrims, the grandfather of their movement is Dave Tomlinson. His 1995 book ‘The Post Evangelical’ was prescient of much that has happened since, and though controversial at the time would now be seen by many as tame. Much of what McLaren, Bell and co have written in recent years owes something of its courage to Tomlinson. His new book “How to Be a bad Christian, And a Better Human Being” updates his own pilgrimage, with insights drawn from life as a busy London vicar. There is much to enjoy here – the book is kind; light-hearted; relaxed and imbued with a deep pastoral sensitivity. It’s weakness is that it is still overshadowed by the ‘post’ of ‘post-evangelical’. The stories are moving, but many of them, it seems, still rely for their impact on knocking down the ‘Aunt Sally’ of a narrow and essentially miserable spirituality. If Tomlinson indeed left this behind nearly twenty years ago, why does it still haunt him so? He’s at his best in the later chapters, where he stops talking about what his faith isn’t, and tells us a little more of what it is. This is necessary, since it is unfair to knock the faith of others unless you are prepared to put your own out their for equal analysis. I was left wondering, though, whether the Enneagram-fuelled soft-Anglicanism with which Tomlinson has replaced his charismatic-evangelical fervour really passes muster as a new way forward. From my blog at lovethewords.com

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marion

    This is one of the best books I've read recently!! I really agreed with Dave Tomlinson's take on how different my God is to what the churches would have us believe. This is one of the best books I've read recently!! I really agreed with Dave Tomlinson's take on how different my God is to what the churches would have us believe.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Hetzel

    Found this a refreshing change to most faith-based books. It's down to earth, realistic and filled with simple truths that are easily understood. Found this a refreshing change to most faith-based books. It's down to earth, realistic and filled with simple truths that are easily understood.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Keith Miller

    Whilst this book came across a bit liberal than my outlook, it was just the book I needed to read. Focusing on real life examples of faith in action but not tied in to church life. Dave focuses very much on the spirit of Christ's message. Whilst this book came across a bit liberal than my outlook, it was just the book I needed to read. Focusing on real life examples of faith in action but not tied in to church life. Dave focuses very much on the spirit of Christ's message.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    ‘How to be a bad Christian’ is about following Jesus, and reflecting God’s love without knowing Christian jargon, or understanding complex creeds. The author believes that Jesus was first and foremost compassionate, and entirely inclusive. He argues for a vital, living church that reaches out into communities, sharing the message of Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work. Specific chapters deal with topics such as living in the present, seeing God in suffering, appreciating the good i ‘How to be a bad Christian’ is about following Jesus, and reflecting God’s love without knowing Christian jargon, or understanding complex creeds. The author believes that Jesus was first and foremost compassionate, and entirely inclusive. He argues for a vital, living church that reaches out into communities, sharing the message of Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work. Specific chapters deal with topics such as living in the present, seeing God in suffering, appreciating the good in other religions, and thinking with the soul rather than accepting blindly what pastors might teach. His views on reading the Bible would undoubtedly make conservative eyebrows twitch; yet much of what he says makes a great deal of sense. He introduces the concept of ‘spiritual intelligence’, and recommends the Enneagram, a personality system that looks at our motivations and stresses, rather than preferences and learning styles; there’s a brief appendix outlining how the nine different kinds of people tend to think. There were one or two places where, I felt the author almost crossed the line into the idea that truth is different for different people. Yet his faith shines through what he says, even when he’s tearing down the walls of much of what is done and said in the name of Christianity. It’s a thought-provoking book which I would recommend to anyone, whatever their faith or lack thereof. Even if you don’t agree with it all, there's plenty to discuss if you keep an open mind. I'd give this four-and-a-half stars if I could.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Stewart

    I got this book free from Good Reads first reads, and i chose this as i thought of myself as a God curious Atheist, and it fitted perfectly with my want to explore more. It took you on a journey from supposedly non-believer to how deep down you do have faith, whether you are aware or not. This book really opened my eyes to how being religious is not about church or calling yourself a Christian, and i highly recommend it to anyone else who is curious about the subject but not brave enough to try I got this book free from Good Reads first reads, and i chose this as i thought of myself as a God curious Atheist, and it fitted perfectly with my want to explore more. It took you on a journey from supposedly non-believer to how deep down you do have faith, whether you are aware or not. This book really opened my eyes to how being religious is not about church or calling yourself a Christian, and i highly recommend it to anyone else who is curious about the subject but not brave enough to try Church!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Norah

    For my book group, 'More Rioja, Vicar?' An easy read, and something I completely agree with, so nothing really new for me, except I like his comment on Hallowe'en (can't find the page now!), also 'Neither the Church or the Bible has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. God didn't start talking to us with the Book of Genesis and stop talking with the book of Revelation. Divine inspiration is everywhere.' For my book group, 'More Rioja, Vicar?' An easy read, and something I completely agree with, so nothing really new for me, except I like his comment on Hallowe'en (can't find the page now!), also 'Neither the Church or the Bible has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. God didn't start talking to us with the Book of Genesis and stop talking with the book of Revelation. Divine inspiration is everywhere.'

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I don't think I learnt anything new from this book, but it was reassuring to know that there are other people in the world (including clergy) with a similar view of Christianity to me, who also get frustrated by all the stupid things that get in the way. I don't think I learnt anything new from this book, but it was reassuring to know that there are other people in the world (including clergy) with a similar view of Christianity to me, who also get frustrated by all the stupid things that get in the way.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    An easy read, a little more shallow than 're-enchanting Christianity' which I preferred,and it seems to repeat most of the material in that book. Nevertheless I recommend this to all thinking people. An easy read, a little more shallow than 're-enchanting Christianity' which I preferred,and it seems to repeat most of the material in that book. Nevertheless I recommend this to all thinking people.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lynne - The Book Squirrel

    A great book for non church going christians. Makes you feel normal!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philip Garside

    Super book. I kept saying "Yes" to lots of the stories and ideas here. Super book. I kept saying "Yes" to lots of the stories and ideas here.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Raj

    4.5 Stars: This basically reaffirmed I’m not crazy or a terrible person for not wanting to be stereotypical perfect Catholic girl my family wants to be.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Spencer

    I confess I bought this book thinking it was comedy. After I got over that I found it was a book about finding God in everything and everyone. Yes he identifies the dangers of the religious spirit that the Pharisees peddled and is very much alive but his solution is to stress love and acceptance and mix the teaching of Christ with Buddhism, Gnosticism and psychotherapy. He bends the Greek meaning of the word repentance from its meaning of turning around to one about "expanding your mind and your I confess I bought this book thinking it was comedy. After I got over that I found it was a book about finding God in everything and everyone. Yes he identifies the dangers of the religious spirit that the Pharisees peddled and is very much alive but his solution is to stress love and acceptance and mix the teaching of Christ with Buddhism, Gnosticism and psychotherapy. He bends the Greek meaning of the word repentance from its meaning of turning around to one about "expanding your mind and your consciousness". We're not sinners that need repentance, but people on a journey that need to forgive ourselves and open ourselves to our true potential. He uses the classic Buddhist example of God being an elephant and we are blind people who don't know what God is like - yes we don't understand God without His revelation but He has revealed Himself fully in Christ who said "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." He believes that all religions get us to Heaven whereas Christ clearly said "no one comes to the Father except by me". It's genuinely great that he's encountering people in the real world on their journeys and realising that God is not confined to the four walls of a church building. He also shares some great stories of those encounters, but what he's offering them is more of a Rob Bell or Oprah Winfrey pep talk spirituality about doing good, being loving and experiencing God mystical love in all things than the power in the Gospel of the Living Christ. Yes God is love but love is not God. He defines what love is - not us. So Dave rejects the God portrayed in the Bible as it doesn't fit his idea of love. Which is basically anywhere that God does something other than smile benevolently. Let me offer a counterpoint to his premise. I too struggled in formal church because of religion and saw many others doing the same, we wanted to experience so much more of Jesus. So we started an organic church where all of us brought what Christ was saying to us. We had extended sessions of worship where we tangibly encountered His living presence. We saw healing and transformation. We saw people set free from sin, demons and other bondage. We then took the Christ we encountered into the world and saw transformation in others too. Suppose there is a man who has gangrene being jeered at by "religious people" who tell him he smells and is going to die. Dave's response is to say to the man "they're horrible for saying that, you're not going to die - you just need to accept yourself for who you are" The religious people gave truth without love. Dave gives love without truth. What is needed is grace and truth: "I once had gangrene like you, I've been where you are but I was healed and transformed by someone - would you like to meet Him?"

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    A physical and mental tonic Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual or faithful person yet not quite feel religious, or a fully paid up subscriber to the specific beliefs espoused by formal religion and church? Do you have unresolved questions about God, the Church, the Bible, Prayer, religious terminology and doctrine? This may just be the book you have been looking for! As is often the way, I stumbled across this title on Amazon while looking for something entirely different. The title caugh A physical and mental tonic Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual or faithful person yet not quite feel religious, or a fully paid up subscriber to the specific beliefs espoused by formal religion and church? Do you have unresolved questions about God, the Church, the Bible, Prayer, religious terminology and doctrine? This may just be the book you have been looking for! As is often the way, I stumbled across this title on Amazon while looking for something entirely different. The title caught my eye - various church “types” I have known in my life have (probably unwittingly) made me feel “bad” in one way or another many times in the past for not feeling entirely committed to a church community or religion. So, my interest piqued; I wondered could there be something in this book for me? Dave Tomlinson writes with an easy, accessible style. He draws you in with his humanity and gently offers his own thoughts, inviting you to consider them and how they might resonate with you. He does that rare thing among people of faith/ belief/religion/church (call it what you will!) - he doesn’t preach and yet this book feels filled with the Holy Spirit. Everyone should read this - whether you consider yourself a good or bad Christian, a humanist, a non-believer or a fully paid up member of any other religion. Bottom line, this is a book about love, written with love and full of love. As I turned the last page I felt a physical tension I hadn’t known I was carrying fall away and a mental lightening of the load. For the first time in more than 40 years, I feel I not only have a framework for my faith and my spiritual journey to come, but I believe being a ‘bad’ Christian is OK.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mike Eccles

    I wish I had read this book a long time ago. It would have changed my approach to Church, prayer, praise , worship... just about everything associated with my Christian Faith. I would have enquired more (and will do now), worried less (oh that I could go back in time) and enjoyed my faith journey so much more (I will now). I commend this easy to read but thought provoking volume to anyone interested in faith at any level.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Ahh, don't worry everyone! God is just a big, fluffy teddy bear and all that doomsday judgement stuff is meant for the really bad people that you read about in the news! I understand the need for books like this, reactionary preaching against overly legalistic Evangelical Christianity. The Way is a path of tension; an arete between two pitfalls - "Grace" on the one hand, "The Law" on the other. In kicking against one, books like this are in danger of falling into the other. Ahh, don't worry everyone! God is just a big, fluffy teddy bear and all that doomsday judgement stuff is meant for the really bad people that you read about in the news! I understand the need for books like this, reactionary preaching against overly legalistic Evangelical Christianity. The Way is a path of tension; an arete between two pitfalls - "Grace" on the one hand, "The Law" on the other. In kicking against one, books like this are in danger of falling into the other.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine Dolan

    Dave Tomlinson is vicar of St Luke's, Holloway. He is a passionate believer in the way of life preached by Jesus in the Gospels. He has lots of interesting ideas, which he expresses beautifully. He will be at odds with many in evangelical churches, but essentially this is a book about love, compassion, and forgiveness. How can that be bad? Dave Tomlinson is vicar of St Luke's, Holloway. He is a passionate believer in the way of life preached by Jesus in the Gospels. He has lots of interesting ideas, which he expresses beautifully. He will be at odds with many in evangelical churches, but essentially this is a book about love, compassion, and forgiveness. How can that be bad?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    At the beginning I thought it was a little harder to get into, but after the first half this book was SO GOOD. Just a great and honest book you can hand out to anyone exploring faith and what it means to follow God with your heart instead of just the religion part.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sue Briggs

    This book has made me think about and question my own faith and the practices of the Church I attend. It has challenged me to think about various aspects of my life and to wonder where some of my ideas and behaviours started. It has set me on a project of self discovery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

    I did not agree with a lot of things the author put forth. Some bits can be helpful however this is not one i would recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Reeves

    A very thought provoking and engaging read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    really interesting, insightful and often amusing book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracy WB

    Straight forward and delightful~ one of those easy to read, tricky to do but i will have a go anyway books of spiritual practice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This isn't really a 5 but I couldn't do 4.5 stars. I really love the perspective in this book - a great read for those with or without a faith. This isn't really a 5 but I couldn't do 4.5 stars. I really love the perspective in this book - a great read for those with or without a faith.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martin Willoughby

    At last I know I'm not alone in being a bad christian. At last I know I'm not alone in being a bad christian.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Found myself agreeing with everything Dave Tomlinson writes in this book. Very refreshing take on religion and what it means to be human. Thought provoking and life changing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Totally agreed with the ideas put forward in this book. Very reassuring and life affirming. Made me wish the author was in my local church. Highly recommended easy read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alice Horncastle Writer

    Inspiring.

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