This week we discuss Chapter Four of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. This is the book’s first mention of love, which Gregg believes has been sorely missing. John and Gregg then both question Idleman’s use of Jesus’s proclamation that being a disciple means hating parents, siblings, and family. Specifically, Matthew and Luke both convey this same message of “hating family,” and Gregg comments that Luke’s version is much stronger and yet both accounts contextualize the other (which Idleman ignores). Further, he also ignores related texts in Micah and the very different implications this message would have for hearers in the 1st century versus today.
As such, we reject Idleman’s assertion that we are to love Jesus so deeply that we hate everyone else by comparison (page 58). Nor do we not see this illustrated or experienced in real life. Conversely, Gregg notes that the opposite usually occurs: when you deeply love someone you often find you have more love for others. “Love begets love.”
Next, where Idleman’s poses the question of where we turn when we’re in pain (because this reveals our “true devotion,” according to Idleman) John laments that there is only “one right answer,” which is assumed to be “Jesus,” yet the book doesn’t establish a case for this answer or help the reader get there.
The punchline of the chapter is the question: “if following Jesus cost you everything, would it still be worth it?” John answers “no” based on his own life experiences, while also noting that Not A Fan has done nothing to build a case for why it would be worth it–it’s simply missing or assumed, which is again unhelpful. In fact, Gregg argues that this “why” is the most compelling part his own return to Christianity (and so what he most wants to express to others).
Overall, we challenge Idleman’s understanding of love: for Gregg our response to God comes out of experiencing, understanding and responding to God’s love, not out of our will. You can’t will yourself into love.