How To Be a Bad Christian by Dave Tomlinson - review
This is a definite Marmite book – you'll either love it or hate it. If you want a book that is alive with possibilities, that revels in the grace of God and wants to see faith in action in the lives of real people, then you'll love this book. It's bursting with life and the love of God. It's generous and sensible, bringing gospel values to real-world situations.
On the other hand, if you want a gospel message that is Biblical and true to traditional Evangelical teachings, a gospel based on the uniqueness of Jesus and his claims on people's lives, than this is not the book for you.
We get what we expect from Dave Tomlinson. Since he wrote "The Post-Evangelical" nearly twenty years ago he has positioned himself as the flag bearer of liberal Christians. Unlike some liberals Dave remains true to his ministry of caring and befriending people. He is very likeable and generous and loves people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds.
I love Dave's gracious attitude to the people he tells us about in this book. I love the stories of people he met after a funeral or in the pub, people who have been rejected by Christians but find some sense of God in the genial and generous presence of Dave Tomlinson.
But… yes, there is a but… but the gospel is more than generosity. Lord, forgive us that we have forgotten generosity and grace, but the gospel of Jesus is more than that. It's more than platitudes and pats on the back. It's about the challenge to know this Jesus for who he claims to be. The Kingdom of God has to include the kingly reign of God as well as his acceptance of all people.
By all means buy and read this book and be challenged by it. It made me think a lot about what the heart of the Christian message really is. But approach it with care and with prayer. In the end it's not about how to be a bad Christian or to be a good Christian that matters, it's about living like Jesus.