Book Review: Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

There are some books you really look forward to reviewing and others you approach with trepidation. Mere Churchianity is the latter. The reason has less to do with the content and more with the fact that the book’s author, Michael Spencer—better known around the interwebs as the Internet Monk—passed away in April, 2010. So now, there’s no opportunity to interact with him over it. And reading the book left me wanting to sit and hang out with him and just talk about it. Here’s why:

American Christianity, in Spencer’s mind, has succumbed to a false religion: churchianity. Instead of being people who are transformed by Jesus, shaped to be like Him, we’ve settled for playing church. We’ve replaced relationship with religion.

And this has forced him to ask, “When millions of people walk away from the church that has a sign out front saying Jesus is inside, what are they walking away from?” (p. 21). Are they walking away from God or from empty religion? Are they abandoning Jesus, or are they “walking away from a church that has become disconnected from Jesus and all he stands for?”

Perhaps the leavers and quitters are sending a message about Jesus that Christians need to take to heart. Perhaps churchianity has done more to alienate people from Christianity than all the best-selling books written by angry atheists. It is clear that the church has overadvertised something it has lost, and it’s time to answer some questions about the Jesus who doesn’t live behind the church signs. (p. 21)

The big idea behind Mere Churchianity is provocative—yet not. It’s provocative in the sense that it’s a very bold statement about the way things are in the church in North America. Yet, the claim itself has been made by so many (usually in a way that lacks charity and humility) that it’s become very easy to ignore. How did I respond? My reaction was… mixed. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (04/11)

Michael Spencer 1956-2010

On Monday April 5, Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, went home to stand before his Savior after a grueling four-month-long battle with cancer. He was 53.

I did not know Michael personally, but got to know a bit about him by reading his blog. I found him to be interesting, thought-provoking and sometimes frustrating. Not because of his demeanor—on the contrary, he struck me as one who modeled how Christians should behave online—but because much of the time I couldn’t get a good read on him. I couldn’t always tell where he stood.

But he always got me thinking. And for that, I’m grateful.

Michael’s book, Mere Churchianity, is coming out in September, courtesy of Waterbrook/Multnohmah. Consider preordering a copy.

Looking at the list of tributes to Michael, I wonder if he understood the impact he was having in the lives of so many?

In other news

RE:Sound released a new record by Red Letter. Go listen to samples and download.

Tim Challies on the writer’s life

Trevin weighs in as a voice of reason as a couple people continue to lose their minds over John Piper inviting Rick Warren to Desiring God’s National Conference.

The Gospel Coalition has just launched a new book review site.

ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook of the month is Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff. Download this and enjoy a solid 4 hours of laughter. Use coupon code APR2010 when purchasing.

In case you missed it

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Proud Devoted and Dead

A review of Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods

The Stupidity of the Intelligent

Spurgeon on Faith & Obedience