Against Christianity by Peter J. Leithart
Canon Press 2003
Readability: 7. I read it quickly and it's extremely interesting, but sometimes I really had to pause and think. This is mostly due to me, not the book. It is a little harder to grasp quickly than some of his other books.
Impact: 9 :-)
Recommend it: Yes!
Read it Again: Yes.
What to Expect
Leithart rejects anything we name with the name of Christ that is not a complete remaking of the world. A spiritual feeling of Christianity that adopts the world's vocabulary, marketing, values, etc. is the enemy of Christians.
Christianity is gnostic.
The Church can not be gnostic.
The Church is the new city, not ideas that sit under or even alongside the existing culture.
Against Christianity is divided in five sections: Against Christianity, Against Theology, Against Sacraments, Against Ethics, and For Constantine. Each section is divided into bite-sized, numbered ideas (similar to Deep Comedy).
Like several of Leithart's other books, he manages to leave you with a clear mission and beautiful portrayal of our living hope. It get's me high every time.
The book is excellent and even better during the second read.
I'm pretty sure I'm not qualified to review this intelligently, but I'd be quite happy to jump up and down and tell you to read it. :-)
Compared with other Leithart books I've read, I did have to slow down a bit with this one, but it was well worth it.
I've been very blessed to grow up in a church culture where the ideas behind the book have been taught, but I've never thought about them so directly before. Some passages were very convicting and helped me to see some errors in my own thinking. It also helped me solidify ideas that were drifting around without an anchor.
I feel like the book should be required reading. :-)
I also think it's well worth the time if you are exposed to other books or lectures by Peter Leithart. It helped me understand his terminology better and just where he's coming from in general. All good things.
I feel slightly self-conscious using the word "Christianity" now... Not sure what to do with that.
The whole book is certainly worth reading again...and again. ;-)
Somewhere in the middle of reading this book and whatever else was coming in at the time, I came to a realization. Something I guess I've heard but haven't really taken into action. There is nothing to apologies for striving enthusiastically to be a Christian in everything. My identity is "follower of Christ". I don't need to apologies or dance around. This is who I am and it affects every area of life.
From the Book
Transformation of life, including social and political life, is not an "implication" of the gospel. That would suggest that the gospel is over "here," and that it has implications for life which are over "there." It would mean that the gospel is on the left hand, and that we can draw out the moral implications of the gospel on our right hand. Such a procedure is compatible with heresy of Christianity with its separation of "theology" and "practice," but it is not a biblical picture.
Transformation of life is not an implication of the gospel but inherent in the gospel, because the good news is about transformation of life.
The modern Church is in exile; we have chosen exile, and the LORD has delivered us to our desires. But we do not worship the God of permanent exile. We worship the God of exodus.
He calls us to faith, and that means renouncing Christianity and all its works and all its pomp. It means clinging to the gospel, believing the gospel, preaching the gospel, living the gospel as the CHurch, even to the shedding of blood."
Thanks for reading,