Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer: A Review
Michael Spencer, of InternetMonk.com fame, has been an online voice “from the post-evangelical wilderness” for nearly a decade. Mere Churchianity is his first, and due to his lost battle with cancer in the spring of 2010, only publication.
With his blogging success, why did Mr. Spencer write this book? He tells the reader within his introduction:
Mere Churchianity is written for people who have come to the end of the road with the church but who can’t entirely walk away from Jesus. In the wreckage of a church-shaped religious faith, the reality of Jesus of Nazareth persists and calls out to them. I’m talking to those who have left, those who will leave, those who might as well leave, and those who don’t know why they are still hanging around.
And I’m writing to the outsiders who might be drawn to God if it weren’t for Christians.
Do you fit this category? I’m afraid that many do, especially here in the south, where both Mr. Spencer and I have spent our lives.
Michael Spencer is a seminary-trained, former pastor who uses his pen to shine the light on much of the American extra-biblical church-culture. Michael criticizes the church for:
Certainly the American church contains much that needs to be evaluated and, at times, criticized. His points are quite valid. Each issue criticized represents deep problems. In this reviewer’s opinion, however, Michael Spencer places too much blame on the church. Though he extends much grace to those “who might be drawn to God if it weren’t for Christians”, Michael reserves little grace for the church.
While I disagree with the degree of blame placed upon the church, I heartily agree with his solution to the problem. Michael presses for a “Jesus-shaped spirituality”. I can follow this vision.
Spencer points his literary finger at the church, but he does not support the idea that those seeking Jesus-shaped spirituality can do it alone:
There’s no way to keep going on this adventure of making Jesus my only Lord and God without the community of Jesus around me (emphasis mine), attempting the same project. None of us can do this alone.
What I need is a personal transformation by the real Christ, not the one that is manufactured by organized Christianity. I need to be changed by the Jesus who never agrees to be quiet and cooperative. I also need a movement of culture-resisting, church-suspicious rebels and Jesus followers who have taken the same view of religion that Jesus took in his scorching denouncements of religious phoniness….
I need to read and hear the Bible taught with the passionate integrity of Jesus, not the manipulation and misrepresentation of modern Christianity-lite. I need a commitment to the Bible that is unapologetically Jesus centered. I don’t need to hear about a magic book of life principles for suburban success.
This is the view of the church-community and the Christian life that I desire as well. Can you get behind such a vision? Here’s my challenge to readers: If your view of the modern church is the same as that of Michael Spencer, spread this vision among those around you. If you are able to see the problems, perhaps it is also you that can be the agent of change.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. You may view and rate my review on their site here.)