Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: Resurrecting Religion

I was reluctant to read this book. Many attempts to discuss religion fall into the critique of religion as a hollow faith existence of following rules and human structures. I was worried that Greg Paul may have been falling into that camp. I was pleasantly incorrect. Paul provides a clear, concise, practical examination of what religion is and how it is absolutely vital to the existence of the Christian faith.

This book responds to two fronts that are dismantling religion as a vital human experience. The first is the "relationship over religion" argument. This grows out of an expression of faith seeking people. They profess that church conduct is no longer relevant. The structures that are in place have put a stumbling block in the way of people finding authentic faith. What matters more is the pursuit of a relationship with Christ.

The other front is the generalized anti-faith argument that religion is source of community unrest and societal problems. This point is raised out of the historical conflicts between, and among, faith communities.

Greg Paul digs into the book of James, supported by the New Testament, to point out the true nature and calling of Christian religion. Paul's conviction of what the Church truly stands for grows out of the work that has been done by the Sanctuary community in Toronto, Canada. Through the ministry of this community, rich and poor, established and street-people, mingle and live among one another. Here, the author points out, is the work of the Kingdom of God.

I have a lot of respect for what seems to be happening in Sanctuary Toronto's witness and work. It would appear that people have removed the structures of race, wealth, status, and power that have been applied, even in most of our churches, so that humans can see one another for who they truly are.

Resurrecting Religion gets to the truest essence of religion - the Kingdom of God. And that is not the image of our churches that we are so comfortable with. It is going out among the people Jesus associated with. It is dealing with the power brokers to upset their authority and comfort to level the mountains and raise up the valleys of society. It is being honest about living out faith.

This book is easy to read. It provides personal experiences mixed with explanation of biblical passages. It would be useful for Sunday School studies. Most importantly, it is helpful to read to gain understanding that not all Christians fall into a stereotypical model. There are some who are striving to do what is represented in the Bible as the service to communities and social structures.

This book was provided as a complimentary advance reader copy at no cost in exchange for a review by Tyndale House Publishers.