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The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel

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What to do when they say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this over What to do when they say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this overlooked mission field? The Unsaved Christian equips you to confront cultural Christianity with honesty, compassion, and grace, whether you’re doing it from the pulpit or the pews. This practical guide will: show you how to recognize cultural Christianity teach you how to overcome the barriers that get in the way give you easy-to-understand advice about VBS, holiday services, reaching “good people,” and more! If you’ve ever felt stuck or unsure how to minister to someone who identifies as Christian but still needs Jesus, this book is for you. 


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What to do when they say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this over What to do when they say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this overlooked mission field? The Unsaved Christian equips you to confront cultural Christianity with honesty, compassion, and grace, whether you’re doing it from the pulpit or the pews. This practical guide will: show you how to recognize cultural Christianity teach you how to overcome the barriers that get in the way give you easy-to-understand advice about VBS, holiday services, reaching “good people,” and more! If you’ve ever felt stuck or unsure how to minister to someone who identifies as Christian but still needs Jesus, this book is for you. 

30 review for The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel

  1. 5 out of 5

    George P.

    Matthew 7:21–23 is one of the most sobering passages of the Bible. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus tells His disciples, “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” What does it mean to say, “Lord, Lord”? Jesus explains: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’” Regardless of their displays of spiritual power Matthew 7:21–23 is one of the most sobering passages of the Bible. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus tells His disciples, “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” What does it mean to say, “Lord, Lord”? Jesus explains: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’” Regardless of their displays of spiritual power, Jesus’ verdict is negative: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Dean Inserra opens The Unsaved Christian with this passage because it so starkly portrays the self-deception of self-identified Christians whom Christ cannot identify as His own. “These petitioners Jesus spoke of loved to say, ‘didn’t we?’ when they should have been saying, ‘didn’t He?’” In other words, they practiced self-righteousness, attempting to merit salvation through powerful spiritual works, rather than receiving God’s gracious gift of righteousness in Christ through repentance and faith in Him. Today, many self-identified American Christians don’t claim to prophesy or exorcize demons or work miracles, but the central insight of The Unsaved Christian is that they are nevertheless as lost as the “evildoers” of Matthew 7:23. They are Christians in name only, practitioners of cultural Christianity. “Cultural Christianity is a mindset that places one’s security in heritage, values, rites of passage (such as a first communion or a baptism from childhood), and a generic deity, rather than the redemptive work of Jesus Christ,” writes Inserra. He goes on to provide a taxonomy of eight types of cultural Christians: 1. Country Club Christian: “Self-focused, not missional; church just happens to be the social club of their preference." 2. Christmas & Easter Christian: “Holds the Christian holidays close with sentimentality, but the implications of these holidays seem to have little impact on daily life.” 3. God & Country Christian: “Is ‘proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free’; digests everything first as an American or member of a certain political party, not as a believer. Can have blinders on to what really matters." 4. Liberal Social Justice Christian: “Feels strongly about specific social justice issues; compromises biblical teachings in light of cultural whims; believes that politicians and legislation can fix the world.” 5. Good Guy Next Door Christian: “Believes God wants people to be good and kind to each other as taught in most world religions; Jesus just so happens to be the mascot, but the specifics of Christianity aren’t really relevant.” 6. Generational Catholic Christian: “Generally either views Catholicism as a heritage or carries significant guilt to be loyal to its tenants.” (I think Inserra means “tenets.”) 7. Mainline Protestant: “Generally believes vague things about the Bible but is prone to discard it in favor of the pressing beliefs of the day. Proclaims God’s love in terms of license to seek comfort.” 8. Bible Belt Christian: “Displays external forms of religiosity and would be offended to be called an atheist, but in actuality, Jesus has little impact on their lives.” These eight varieties of cultural Christians are ideal types, obviously, but they do describe a lot of the features of what passes for Christianity in contemporary American culture. For each variety, Inserra elaborates on what it mistakes the gospel for, identifies starting points for gospel conversations, and shows how the gospel, correctly understood, both challenges and provides a remedy for it. Take the Bible Belt Christianity, for example. It is typically found in the South, which Flannery O’Connor described as “Christ-haunted.” Its “unofficial liturgy” is country music, and Inserra provides an insightful look at the religious outlook of three contemporary country songs. Based on those songs, he comments: “Sadly, many people in the Bible Belt are haunted by the idea of Christ, while not understanding His love for them. The judgment of God lingers in their minds. Believing the gospel would allow them to understand that it is the kindness of God that can actually lead them to repentance (Rom. 2:4). With an awareness of God and our sins, but not the gospel, one is only left with country music theology, hoping God will let us into heaven one day after we have some fun on earth.” Inserra closes The Unsaved Christian by enumerating three things necessary for evangelizing cultural Christians: “a refusal to be in denial, gospel clarity, and boldness to speak the truth in love” (emphasis in original). Inserra is a pastor, and he intends his book as an aid to pastors and other concerned Christians who long to “make disciples” of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 28:19). Distinguishing between authentic and nominal Christianity is never easy, especially in a supposedly Christian nation, but it’s an evangelistic necessity, lest we leave people thinking what we did, rather than what He did, saves us. Book Reviewed Dean Inserra, The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2019). P.S. If you found my review helpful, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page. P.P.S. This review is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rod Horncastle

    What a strange little book: how exactly do you get an Unsaved Christian to read this book??? I have no idea. The Prophet Jonah would threaten them with 40 days and then destruction. (that actually works better than the nice guy approach this book seems to hint at.) I've been trying to come up with some tests for those folks who claim to be Christians. They aren't fool proof necessarily - but they hint at the truth. Here's some: Stop a person in mid conversation (or debate?) and ask them how much t What a strange little book: how exactly do you get an Unsaved Christian to read this book??? I have no idea. The Prophet Jonah would threaten them with 40 days and then destruction. (that actually works better than the nice guy approach this book seems to hint at.) I've been trying to come up with some tests for those folks who claim to be Christians. They aren't fool proof necessarily - but they hint at the truth. Here's some: Stop a person in mid conversation (or debate?) and ask them how much they LOVE the Jesus of the Bible. Almost anytime I felt the urge to poke at this - the person refused to answer. Personally, I'd love to have someone i'm arguing with ask me this. What a joy to answer it. Ask a person if Jesus is 100% their Messiah, Savior, King, High Priest, Lamb Slain For the Sins of the World, and GOD. This will quickly disperse 90% of Church goers and religious liberal agnostics (and Cultic Spiritualists) who are confused about their Christianity. If you say “Sovereign God” that will get rid of another 6%. So this book is about reaching and discerning who these unsaved people are. I doubt many of them would dare read a book like this. Not with all the Joel Osteen books, and Dr. Phil books, and Deepak Chopra books. And books that are mostly Against the claims of God's historically and factually reliable Bible. (unsaved people will always find something in God's Word to hate and confuse). I would say that this book is mostly about the problem at hand and clarifying what exactly an unsaved person is. The Bible was full of these as well. Remember Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts (God smote them for lying about their tithes in the 1st century foundation of HIS church). Not a lot of ministry, forgiveness and counseling happened - just a God Given "Smote". So why are people so close to the Gospel yet just don't get it? Interesting issue. Like me - some have had it poorly explained to them (freakin' Methodists and Mennonites and Wesleyan feel good sermons). But when an Elect of God hears the Good News, it should be a joy to their heart and they are desperate to pursue it. No matter what crap they've been fed for the last 25 years. Hint: Start reading your Bibles carefully and slowly and fully. This will prevent 90% of your insanity and lack of discernment. The author shows us how Youth Groups have failed. How Bible studies have failed. How Church itself has failed. We fail because we make it about US instead of about the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is very demanding. But loving. As long as you're humbly and truthfully pursuing Him. (most aren't). This book also nicely bashes the bad habits and bad theology of Catholics and Charismatics and Liberals. It's almost impossible to get past those bad mountains of rebellious sin. But the Apostle Paul made it after persecuting Christians to death. So there's a small chance. (if God chooses to make it so).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Halloran

    A really helpful book for someone like me who has many friends that seem to be nominal believers (what Inserra calls ‘unsaved Christians’) and who ministers to many people who think they are saved but probably aren’t.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Really good insights and reminders of truth & remembering how important the Gospel is.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Thinking I deserve heaven is a sure sign I have no understanding of the Gospel. (Deciding if someone else deserves heaven is another one.) Cultural Christians are those who genuinely believes they are on good terms with God because of church familiarity, a generic moral code, a political affiliation, a religious family heritage, etc. Cultural Christianity is largely based on confusion, whereas the hypocrite and the false teacher have a "Christianity"based on deceit. - Welcome to a new mission fi Thinking I deserve heaven is a sure sign I have no understanding of the Gospel. (Deciding if someone else deserves heaven is another one.) Cultural Christians are those who genuinely believes they are on good terms with God because of church familiarity, a generic moral code, a political affiliation, a religious family heritage, etc. Cultural Christianity is largely based on confusion, whereas the hypocrite and the false teacher have a "Christianity"based on deceit. - Welcome to a new mission field. Maybe this text is about you, maybe it's for you to grab the gospel in a different light, maybe its for you to see a whole new mission field than what you currently have been pursuing. The text starts with the case of the unsaved Christian. One who believes or is deceived into believing that they are in the fold. It follows with Religion without salvation and what that looks like. False Assurance of salvation. How church is more of a country club than a place of worship. The cultural of holidays and political affiliations. Even how being good does not mean being saved. Each chapter is clear on the wrong believe and deed and steers the sinner to the heart of your salvation. A heart totally living for God. So if you are doubting your own salvation, you may start reading this without any hope. I had felt that way myself but as I continued on, there is hope. There is hope in the Person of Christ, there is hope in his word, and with other like-minded believers. A text for today culture. Highly recommend. A Special Thank you to Moody Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Guetzko

    This has been sitting on my shelf forever, but when I finally started reading it I finished it in one day! It addresses nominal Christianity and how to lead people in that place. Very good, and includes much more than just the advice you’d expect!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Inman

    Fantastically written. Easy to understand. Relatable. So dang spot on! Inserra is gracious and truthful and provides so much insight to common forms of Cultural Christianity. He describes the forms, identifies their false beliefs, teaches gospel truths that are important to communicate, and gives encouragement on conversations to have and questions to ask. Absolutely outstanding and would highly recommend! I only wish that he gave more practical advice on how to have fruitful conversations with Fantastically written. Easy to understand. Relatable. So dang spot on! Inserra is gracious and truthful and provides so much insight to common forms of Cultural Christianity. He describes the forms, identifies their false beliefs, teaches gospel truths that are important to communicate, and gives encouragement on conversations to have and questions to ask. Absolutely outstanding and would highly recommend! I only wish that he gave more practical advice on how to have fruitful conversations with people who culturally claim Christianity.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Extremely helpful. Dean Inserra gets to the heart of the disconnect I feel living in the Bible Belt where everyone’s a “Christian”, but still seems so lost. He breaks down different categories of cultural Christians and provides ways to approach sharing the true Gospel with them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Second read through was as good as the first! Many perceptive comments. Helped clarify some of the Southern cultural Christianity I have observed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Having grown up in the exact culture that this book addresses, this book was ON. POINT. Hearing the Gospel for the first time, and then saying, “Why is this something I never heard all those years in church,” was so apt. It’s a sad reality of the landscape of our American churches, but it gives us a good starting place with the Gospel. Beings as I’m doing full-time ministry in Bible Belt America, this book was not only informative, but a helpful tool for ministry moving forward. It helped give me Having grown up in the exact culture that this book addresses, this book was ON. POINT. Hearing the Gospel for the first time, and then saying, “Why is this something I never heard all those years in church,” was so apt. It’s a sad reality of the landscape of our American churches, but it gives us a good starting place with the Gospel. Beings as I’m doing full-time ministry in Bible Belt America, this book was not only informative, but a helpful tool for ministry moving forward. It helped give me lots of contextual pointers for reaching this specific subculture. And really, for Dean Inserra to speak into American Christian culture as a whole in this book was good for me to hear to help me assess this reality from an outsiders POV. The author talks in broad strokes about specific types of people, churches, areas, etc. which obviously wouldn’t always be 100% accurate of every subject. Read these parts with a filter as it’s obviously not absolute truth, but just general stereotypes. Overall, thumbs up, exclamation point.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Really fantastic. So insightful and helpful, and he addresses some nuance about American Christianity that was so refreshing to hear. Read this, and be edified!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Arianna Miller

    “Cultural Christianity is the most under-rated mission field in America.” This book is helpful for anyone who has friends who seem to be nominal believers embedded within a false gospel culture. Inserra leaves us with a challenge to refuse to be in denial, to communicate the gospel to CCs in clear ways, and to have boldness to speak the truth in love.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Arnold

    5/5 for content and truth. I'm SO thankful to have spent the last several years in a church that fights hard against cultural Christianity and places such emphasis on discipleship. This is one of those books that poses a great challenge to look introspectively and ask yourself some brutally honest questions. Knocked it 1 point because (again thankfully) very little felt "new" and I was craving more. 5/5 for content and truth. I'm SO thankful to have spent the last several years in a church that fights hard against cultural Christianity and places such emphasis on discipleship. This is one of those books that poses a great challenge to look introspectively and ask yourself some brutally honest questions. Knocked it 1 point because (again thankfully) very little felt "new" and I was craving more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily Smith

    Easily one of the best books that I’ve read about the Christian faith and what it looks like to truly prioritize the Gospel above all else. Pretty sure all my friends got sick of me talking about it all the time! Extremely convicting in reaching the nominal Christians in my life, as well as extremely valuable in giving guidance in steering conversations towards the heart of the Gospel. Couldn’t recommend this book enough!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Ray

    Sometimes (and in some places) in the United States an evangelist or pastor can feel that there is not much of a mission field. After all, we live in a strongly Judeo-Christian culture, one where most people seem to know at least a little about Christianity. However, according to Dean Inserra, that just makes our mission field more difficult. After all, cultural Christianity and growing up with a Christian heritage are not the same things as actually believing in the gospel of Christ. Inserra wr Sometimes (and in some places) in the United States an evangelist or pastor can feel that there is not much of a mission field. After all, we live in a strongly Judeo-Christian culture, one where most people seem to know at least a little about Christianity. However, according to Dean Inserra, that just makes our mission field more difficult. After all, cultural Christianity and growing up with a Christian heritage are not the same things as actually believing in the gospel of Christ. Inserra wrote this book to give pictures of different basic types of cultural Christians, including some key characteristics and points at which to be able to start gospel conversations. These pictures range from nominal Christians to heritage Catholics to more liberal mainline Protestant denominations. He concludes with some pointers on how to determine if your own Christianity is true or merely cultural. Inserra raises some good points and begins a good discussion on determining the difference between what it means to be a cultural Christian and what it means to be a real Christian. However, by the end of the book, it seems that he's pointed to almost every variety of Christian expression in the United States and labelled it as merely cultural. This reader was left knowing if Inserra truly found a real expression of Christianity at all other than his own. While doctrine is has essential areas where we often must be inflexible on, there are often wide varieties of people and beliefs that can qualitatively be called Christian. In this, Inserra's book is exclusionary to the point of stereotyping, and I do believe that if taken to heart will find people judging good Christians and merely cultural Christians. The last chapter of his book, determining whether or not you are a cultural Christian is also problematic. Rather than pointing to faith alone, Inserra seems to be adding several works-based indicators to judge someone's faith by, while maintaining that people might do these very things and still be merely cultural Christians. I do not think that this is his intention, and I think he merely wants to say that a baptism or a magical special ritual prayer does not make one a Christian. Still it's confusing to the point of being something that I would feel could be a stumbling block to someone who already struggles with uncertainty in their faith and could perhaps lead to someone attempting to attempt to do more works in order to assure their salvation. (book 61 of 2019)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Faye

    How do you reach someone who doesn't know Jesus, if they say that they are already a Christian? Mr. Dean Inserra draws from his own personal experiences as he discusses in this reader friendly and concise book the difference between knowing God, and knowing about God. Incredibly relevant, this book addresses cultural Christianity directly discussing barriers within the church that prove a challenge to a personal saving relationship and recognition of our sin and God's holiness in today's culture. How do you reach someone who doesn't know Jesus, if they say that they are already a Christian? Mr. Dean Inserra draws from his own personal experiences as he discusses in this reader friendly and concise book the difference between knowing God, and knowing about God. Incredibly relevant, this book addresses cultural Christianity directly discussing barriers within the church that prove a challenge to a personal saving relationship and recognition of our sin and God's holiness in today's culture. I liked how Mr. Inserra calls us not just to look at the splinter in another's eye, but to also examine ourselves for traces of cheap grace. As it is easy to be the Pharisee at times, seeing our friends and family as tax collectors. He also talks about how to initiate deeper conversations on faith with cultural Christians, as well the importance of the great commission to continue to pray and witness to others, even if they state that they are already Christians. Mr. Inserra uses many good examples, often drawing from his own personal life to show the importance of not growing lax in our witness because someone is a good person or identifies with a few of Jesus's teachings. Overall, a very relevant, honest read that addresses the stumbling blocks in our Christian culture, and encourages believers to strive toward the prize, with a right knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ living it out in our daily lives, and encouraging others to do likewise. I really liked how this book summarized a lot of things that I had been thinking about lately, directly speaking to the problems of cultural Christianity and what a danger it is to today's church. Thought provoking and concise, it is both challenging and easy to read. Highly recommend! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mazzy Mitchell

    Um it’s almost 2021 and I realized I never reviewed this book?? I thought it was really really excellent and so applicable to American culture, and it was just so interesting. I loved how it gave practical ideas of how to combat different kinds of cultural Christianity with gentleness and a true grasp of the Gospel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Shields

    "Mainstream Cultural Christians aren’t wrapped up in promoting some kind of gospel message. They are simply trying to be nice to others, pursue their idea of personal happiness, pray when something bad happens, and rest in the belief that they are going to heaven after they die." Does this sound like you or someone you know? The Unsaved Christian is a straightforward, practical look into the false faith that our country is soaked in. This book does not condemn; the heart of this book is to help "Mainstream Cultural Christians aren’t wrapped up in promoting some kind of gospel message. They are simply trying to be nice to others, pursue their idea of personal happiness, pray when something bad happens, and rest in the belief that they are going to heaven after they die." Does this sound like you or someone you know? The Unsaved Christian is a straightforward, practical look into the false faith that our country is soaked in. This book does not condemn; the heart of this book is to help us identify ourselves or those we love who are actually Cultural Christians (as described above) and realize that this is a mission field. A commitment with eternal consequences, avoiding awkward or potentially offensive conversations with those we love is unacceptable. We are doing no one any favors if we refuse to ask the hard questions- of ourselves and those close to us. This is a book about drawing people into the family of God, not leaving them out by crossing our fingers in hopes that simple kindness unlocks those pearly gates. This is not a book of calling out and shutting out but of encouragement and open doors. Inserra invokes these statistics: "According to a study of US adults, 80% of those polled believe in God, but only 56% believe in God as described in the Bible. Considering the fact that approximately 70% of the US population still identifies as Christian, we have a large group of people that would be likely overlooked in outreach or missions." In a country where being a Christian is not a life or death label (though certain forms of persecution are increasing) it is easy to lay claim to this title. After all, we believe in God (you know, the loving, unoffensive God), we go to church (at least on Easter and Christmas), we pray (when we want to win our football game, it's expected of us, or when our health is in jeopardy), we are good people (well, at least better than our coworkers and our neighbors, and all those people from that other political party), we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, and God is all about love so he knows we try hard and if he knows what's good for him, he will definitely let us into heaven. Heaven is for pretty much everyone but Nazis and serial killers. But any deeper probes into this line of reasoning and there are not many convincing answers. How good is good enough? How many more good things than bad must we do to be okay? Are there no consequences for breaking the Ten Commandments? If any good person goes to heaven, then why did Jesus die? What makes us any different than people who aren't Christians? How, specifically, has knowing Jesus changed the way you live? Inserra gives these disclaimers: "The gospel is not church attendance. The gospel is not “be sincere and a good person” The gospel is not theism. The gospel is not heritage. The gospel is not an ethnicity. The gospel is not making Jesus your copilot or your lucky charm." I think this is a great book to read alongside "Word-Centered Church" by Jonathan Leeman, as we take into consideration what kind of Christianity we're "selling" by our daily example and by the ways our churches function. Things you would think are harmless may actually be perpetuating this Cultural Christianity mindset of finding eternal collateral based on traditions, values, rites of passage, or some sort of generic deity that requires no real life transformation or repentance. The gospel message and the authority of the Word is essential in this conversation. When we aren't sharing the exclusive gospel, we are allowing people to find false security in a shallow, club-minded, politics-driven, or tradition-keeping faith that has not truly wrecked their hearts with the reality of their sin and standing before a holy God, and his necessary and life-changing redemption. "Jesus wasn’t looking for crowds, but rather a commitment." Scripture is clear that the path to eternal life is narrow and few find it. Many have been done a disservice, their faith validated that as long as they are good people and go to church every once in awhile, the big man upstairs can't turn them away. Because God would not offend anyone by being against anything the culture deems good and our hearts deem pleasurable. And thus God's love has been detrimentally separated from his holiness. Throughout the book, Inserra addresses several types of Cultural Christians that he labels: The Country Club Christian, Christmas & Easter Christian, God & Country Christian, Liberal Social Justice Christian, Moralistic Therapeutic Deist Christian, Generational Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Bible Belt Christian. Are you uncomfortable yet? I am confident in my salvation and the depth of my faith, but still felt convicted by a lot of the points he made. These mindsets are sneaky and creep in without you realizing. For me, it was his chapter about politics and Christianity. The polarization between Democrats and Republicans feels like it's an irreparable disparity today. And I find myself falling into group identities and allowing politics to often supersede the gospel when I consider other people. Try this one on for size: "Partisan politics might be the new religion of American, and the church is getting in step with the times, watch the social media posts of professing Christians and what provokes their most passionate writing, responses, and claims, and you will likely find it to be politics. It is a religion, but its idolatry is masked by Christian language and 'good causes.'" And then, "How many Christians would affirm that they have more in common with a Christian from a different political party than an unbeliever in their own registered party?" Yikes. This should not be. Granted our faith drives our politics, we have to really hold captive our politics lest it undermine the unity of a gospel-believing church. Does being in a particular political party truly negate their faith and status in God's family? Lots of relevant and important topics discussed in these pages. He presents the stark reality between Cultural Christianity and authentic faith, offering good examples of each kind of misguided mindset. Though a lot of it seemed a bit repetitive, it may take saying the truth several different ways for us to humbly realize- Oh. That's me. I do think that way... This is a very practical and helpful book that I would highly recommend reading with an open heart and mind. It is not an open-ended questioning of salvation until any truth is subjective and future is a mystery, but rather a loving challenge to consider the truths of the Bible and a deep internal heart-check for yourself. It's a real 'aha' moment for churches to understand where a mission field is ripe for the harvest. Each chapter has good discussion questions at the end making this book a Bible Study or small group option. Throughout each chapter he also provides practical tips on conversing with different types of Cultural Christians and offers some helpful questions. In addition to the types of cultural Christians he talks about, he addresses things like church membership, baptism, "perseverance of the saints," altar calls, and sermon content. This is a hard reality, and reading this book is a step in the right direction of doing the most loving thing we can for people- bringing them into the family of God. "When it comes to Unsaved Christians, one has to have the emotional discipline to accept the reality that just because someone is your husband or wife, son or daughter, brother or sister, or best friend, and raised in the same religious climate and church, does not mean they are saved… someone might know Christianity, but not Christ." Some other quotes: "Self-proclaimed Christians who worship a god that requires no self-sacrifice, no obedience, no submission, and no surrender are not worshiping the God of the Bible, no matter how much they claim they love Jesus. (Jn 14:15, 14:23) Many people want the good-luck-charm Jesus, not the sacrificial Lamb of God whose death requires action." "Civic religion promotes a god without any definition and a generic faith that demands and asks nothing of its followers… In some areas, civic religion is even proudly theistic and likes the idea of Jesus. Selective words spoken by Jesus in the New Testament will be used and cited when the political cause of the day needs a rally cry...regardless of one’s adherence the authority of Scripture as a whole." "A troubling reality in much of evangelical life is that convincing someone they are saved seems to take precedence over making sure someone is actually saved. This must change. Somehow questioning another person's salvation became taboo in evangelical culture, when it could possibly be one of the most loving things you can do for another; it could mean the difference between seeds that sprout and bloom and seeds that are snatched away." "Unbelievers know when their friends who claim to be Christian don’t actually take their faith seriously. It is detrimental to the mission of God in a community when unbelievers see little distinction between themselves and friends who are associated with a church." "If asked about their faith, [Cultural Christians] wouldn’t be uncomfortable, but would respond with answers about going to church and being good people. Church is a place where basic social expectations are met in the name of morals, family, and tradition… they are not defensive or awkward when it comes to questions about their beliefs. They certainly believe in avid and, as far as they are concerned, they always have and always will. But if the conversation moved to questions about Jesus, salvation, and the gospel. It would be a different story." "I’ve never been able to figure out why Christmas and Easter would be the “can’t miss” church services for the Cultural Christian. What we acknowledge and celebrate in those days are not conventional or widely acceptable things. We acknowledge that a God-Man was born and then that He was brutally murdered and raised from the dead. These are not normal things! This has to create some sort of disconnect in the mind of a Cultural Christian, unless churches don’t preach to that disconnect." See more of my reviews at www.shelfreflection.com!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Horner

    This is a great book for any Christian in America who recognizes (but is unsure of how to approach) the disconnect between a lot of people who call themselves Christians and Biblical Christianity. Inserra very accurately addresses a lot of common deceptions that Americans feel towards Christianity and gives a lot of practical tips on how to approach the nominal Christians around us; Cultural Christians, as he calls the persons who only know about Christianity but have no relationship with Jesus, This is a great book for any Christian in America who recognizes (but is unsure of how to approach) the disconnect between a lot of people who call themselves Christians and Biblical Christianity. Inserra very accurately addresses a lot of common deceptions that Americans feel towards Christianity and gives a lot of practical tips on how to approach the nominal Christians around us; Cultural Christians, as he calls the persons who only know about Christianity but have no relationship with Jesus, are one of the most prime fields for evangelism. He also includes questions to ask ourselves to ensure that we aren't slipping into the trap of Cultural Christianity. I highly recommend this for any others who, like me, live around a lot of Bible Belt 'christians' and have felt really shy in knowing how to approach them about obedient faithful Christianity. Inserra shows that a lot of them truly do not know the gospel of Jesus, and aren't even aware that heritage and country are not salvation. =)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dave Betts

    A really helpful framing of "cultural Christianity" - definitely worth the read. Well presented, clear, and insightful. I found the author's assessment of church and politics particularly refreshing, and appreciated his advice for chatting with cultural (or nominal) Christians. There were gems in every chapter. A small comment: I was a little uncomfortable with some of the wording in the first chapter. Even the title is "help them get lost." While I agree with the sentiment, I'm not sure about th A really helpful framing of "cultural Christianity" - definitely worth the read. Well presented, clear, and insightful. I found the author's assessment of church and politics particularly refreshing, and appreciated his advice for chatting with cultural (or nominal) Christians. There were gems in every chapter. A small comment: I was a little uncomfortable with some of the wording in the first chapter. Even the title is "help them get lost." While I agree with the sentiment, I'm not sure about the phrasing. Personally, I think it would be more helpful to say "Help Them Realise They Are Lost" to avoid the implication that we're encouraging cultural Christians into sin! This is a small issue though, as Inserra is clearly not implying such a thing, and doesn't detract from an otherwise good book. NOTE: As a Brit who pastors in a Canadian setting, much of this resonates. However, while it will obviously be valuable to any readers, I'm not sure it would be quite AS valuable to settings outside of North America.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Peterson

    Absolutely amazing. So detailed and thought provoking. It was great insight into ministry, especially in the Deep South. Would absolutely recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Mandt

    VERY good. Highly recommend! I really liked how each chapter was clearly laid out with the different categories and examples.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ben Chapman

    This is one of the more important books I’ve read. I wish everyone I know would read it. Especially those who claim to belong to Christ. Challenging and eye opening. Highly recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lynn's

    This was a refreshing, yet challenging read. It’s hard for me to think there are people who go to church who think they’re saved but aren’t, yet, I’m glad this pastor took the time to put these hard truths on paper. I really liked the writing style - it was easy to read, and most importantly, sincere. I’ve read a lot of books in this genre, so it can be hard to impress me at times. This one taught me a few things; truths I pray I don’t forget.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Adams

    3.5/5 stars! i listened to this as an audiobook so it was a little harder for me to pay attention, but i really enjoyed reading/listening to it. it had a lot of really great points and had lots of calls to action/insightful questions without feeling super pushy. great reminder that we are called to be missionaries of the true gospel in our own community!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Elmer

    I first heard about this book from a friend who was reading it and liking it very much. Later, I heard a man speaking on the radio and was greatly interested in what he had to say. Some minutes into the program I learned that the guest I was listening to was Dean Inserra, the author of this book. So off I went to my computer to order a copy for myself. This book is a must-read for every evangelical believer. Through the years, I have thought that the mission field in the United States was much l I first heard about this book from a friend who was reading it and liking it very much. Later, I heard a man speaking on the radio and was greatly interested in what he had to say. Some minutes into the program I learned that the guest I was listening to was Dean Inserra, the author of this book. So off I went to my computer to order a copy for myself. This book is a must-read for every evangelical believer. Through the years, I have thought that the mission field in the United States was much larger than commonly thought, but in this book Dean Inserra makes that truth loud and clear. Our churches are filled with “unsaved Christians,” which of course, are not Christians at all, but people who have varying concepts of God without knowing the gospel and possibly not caring. This book stirred me to a deeper desire to share the gospel with people who often look good on the outside, who appear religious, but who don’t actually know the Lord Jesus Christ. I also liked Inserra’s tone, which is one of genuine love and compassion and not judgementalism. This topic could easily have been handled in an abrasive way in the hands of some writers, but thankfully Inserra did not do that. Highly recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elisha Lawrence

    I'll be honest, this wasn't my favorite book. There were definitely some helpful ideas in the book. I appreciate the author called Christians to a deeper faith based around following Christ in the spiritual disciplines and suffering. He also showed how "American values" and a version of Christianity blend together to form a sort of spiritual nationalism that is antithetical to actually following Christ. For these things I'm grateful. I felt Inserra was too bold in creating categories of people w I'll be honest, this wasn't my favorite book. There were definitely some helpful ideas in the book. I appreciate the author called Christians to a deeper faith based around following Christ in the spiritual disciplines and suffering. He also showed how "American values" and a version of Christianity blend together to form a sort of spiritual nationalism that is antithetical to actually following Christ. For these things I'm grateful. I felt Inserra was too bold in creating categories of people who aren't Christians. While he did mention that only God can declare whether someone is a believer, he then went on to declare lots of people non-Christian. I understand he is trying to push back on pseudo-Christianity and provide a template for talking with people living that out, I felt the topic to be more nuanced than his presentation. Three things I would have liked to have seen: the history of how cultural Christianity came about in America, a more nuanced understanding of how America has gotten here (seemed his argument was primarily poor theology, which is true, but could have been teased out more, and the need for prayer to push back the spiritual blindness in America.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Will

    I appreciate this book as I am currently doing campus ministry in a "Christ haunted" land. I needed to remember "Cultural Christianity is the most underrated mission field in America" (15). Inserra gives helpful guidance on how to confront this fog of religiosity head-on. He gives memorable pieces of advice on preaching such as "never preach a sermon that would be true if Jesus had not risen from the dead." The most enjoyable chapter for me is "Faith, Family, and Football" where he exposes the w I appreciate this book as I am currently doing campus ministry in a "Christ haunted" land. I needed to remember "Cultural Christianity is the most underrated mission field in America" (15). Inserra gives helpful guidance on how to confront this fog of religiosity head-on. He gives memorable pieces of advice on preaching such as "never preach a sermon that would be true if Jesus had not risen from the dead." The most enjoyable chapter for me is "Faith, Family, and Football" where he exposes the watered-down, works-based Christianity expressed in some country music songs. I appreciate his challenge to confront moral people because we can often assume nice people know Jesus. While his 7 categories of cultural Christians are certainly helpful as we think of different people in our lives, I wish he had avoided making a straw man of some of these groups, especially Roman Catholics. This book was not groundbreaking but helpful nonetheless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    C.H. Cobb

    This is a great book, and is going to be discomfiting for many people who view themselves as right with God, but whose views on that score are wholly without warrant. First, a bit of historical perspective: parts of the United States were swept by revivalism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Much good came out those revivals, but there were also some results that were not particularly praiseworthy. One of them was a reductionism of redemption: in many cases it was reduced to a “decision” rather tha This is a great book, and is going to be discomfiting for many people who view themselves as right with God, but whose views on that score are wholly without warrant. First, a bit of historical perspective: parts of the United States were swept by revivalism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Much good came out those revivals, but there were also some results that were not particularly praiseworthy. One of them was a reductionism of redemption: in many cases it was reduced to a “decision” rather than a whole-life reorientation around repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. Salvation is not less than a decision, but it is much more than that. Add to that an unbalanced emphasis on eternal security (especially in the mid to late20th century), virtually separating the doctrine of assurance from the “new life” aspect of regeneration. And add to that a sort of “second-blessing” theology that teaches the decision to yield to Jesus as Lord and Master is separate from the decision to trust Him as Savior, and what you wind up with is a culture that views salvation as little more than checking the right boxes. Salvation becomes a cultural inheritance of white, conservative, flag-waving Americans, something akin to joining the Republican party. Dean Inserra’s book is a gentle but firm expose of that problem: cultural Christianity is not biblical Christianity, and it is decidedly not a “Christianity” that saves. He deals with a variety or flavors of it: moral theism, watered-down mainline Protestantism, the Bible Belt cultural ambience, the confusion of patriotism with Christianity, and so on. One particularly good chapter explores the Christmas and Easter attendance phenomenon and yields some rather surprising observations. Inserra is not swinging a club—he’s not browbeating. He’s quite gentle, in fact, and includes questions at the end of each chapter for self-evaluation. But he also pulls no punches. Chapter 3 is entitled “Civic Religion: Generic Faith that Demands and Asks Nothing of Its Followers.” His view of the true gospel, biblical faith, salvation, the effects of regeneration, and so on are fully orthodox. Buckle your spiritual seatbelt, put on your crash helmet, and read this book. Here at Bible Fellowship, we’re going to go through this book in Sunday School. It’s too important to leave sitting on the shelf. For some, it might make an eternity of difference. Five stars, highly recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Inserra draws out attention to the prevalent Cultural Christianity, people who think they are spiritually fine because they are familiar with Christian things. (9) They think they are saved but they are not moved by the seriousness of sin, the necessity of repentance, the awesome reality of grace. (12) They've probably gone to church since childhood and it has become a social habit. They believe in “God” but they do not know their need for salvation in Jesus. It is so prevalent, Inserra says, it Inserra draws out attention to the prevalent Cultural Christianity, people who think they are spiritually fine because they are familiar with Christian things. (9) They think they are saved but they are not moved by the seriousness of sin, the necessity of repentance, the awesome reality of grace. (12) They've probably gone to church since childhood and it has become a social habit. They believe in “God” but they do not know their need for salvation in Jesus. It is so prevalent, Inserra says, it is “practiced by more Americans than any other faith or religion.” (13) This is a book every pastor and church leader would do well to read. They need to make sure the gospel is being preached and that a false assurance is not be given from the pulpit. “Believing in God does not make one a Christian,” Inserra writes. (58) There must be a sense of the need for personal salvation through Jesus Christ. (48) He includes good ideas for engaging Cultural Christians with the gospel. This book helped me understand the state of Cultural Christianity in America today. It also helped me understand the current political thinking among Cultural Christians. Many Cultural Christians think you must be a Republican. Inserra has shocking news: “God is not impressed with America.” (129) This is a good book for Christians in general. You might be shocked to find out that, even though you go to church, it is a mission field in itself and you need the gospel and salvation through Jesus Christ. This would be a good book to read with friends as there are discussion questions included. Food for thought: “...the Bible Belt is a mission field where the harvest is abundant and the workers just don't realize it.” (169)

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