In this episode John and Gregg discuss Chapter Ten of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. John finds Idleman’s message repetitive and unconvincing. Gregg pushes things further: could it be that, instead of being poorly written or argued, this book actually proposes a view of Christianity that contradicts other aspects of Idleman’s own beliefs?
John sees Idleman’s assumptions about others’ behavior to be problematic and expresses greater dismay at Idleman’s suggestion that we relate to God by denying ourselves to the extent that we fail to acknowledge our own existence (p. 143)–a concept that fails a simple logic test. How can we interact with ourselves or God if we don’t exist?
Gregg suggests that some of the book’s radical contortions like: 1) By sacrificing everything, God then loves us as sons and daughters (p. 153); or 2) The Bible’s highest calling for “followers” is to be slaves who deny ourselves and follow Jesus (p. 150) could result from Idleman’s attempt to maintain his contention that Christianity is all about where we spend eternity (Heaven or Hell, p. 21) while knowing, Gregg assumes, that the New Testament prioritizes loving God entirely, loving ourselves rightly, and loving others likewise.
So Gregg emphasizes that God is already seeking us–already desirous of us. Nor are we dealing with a “problem of sin,” but rather a lack of proper relationship, which God is constantly trying to mend. And key to mending this relationship is having a deep, experiential awareness of God’s love so that we relate to God both in a way that works and that makes sense. In this way embracing our deep, deep value to God through this love relationship is an intrinsic reality that should effect how Christians carry themselves in all of their relations.
Gregg also couples Joseph LeDoux‘s neuroscientific view that emotions (like love) are not choices but are instead responses that motivate future behavior with the view that some people should be “fans” because they don’t have what is required to embrace God fully–and that is perfectly okay. So instead of coercing people to love God, why doesn’t Idleman focus on: a) what it means for God’s love to be real; b) the modes whereby God presents God’s love to us; and c) how Idleman has been personally impacted by God’s love?