In this episode John and Gregg return to Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman and discuss Chapter Ten. John questions Idleman’s chapter-ending story where following Jesus equates to “giving up period.” In turn, Gregg doubts this includes “giving up on church” or even “waiting on God,” a theme John sees nowhere in Idleman’s relentless message of “try harder” and, “you can never be committed enough.”
Gregg’s contention from the beginning has been that the underlying message of Not A Fan is misguided because it is driven from a foundation of misplaced priorities and ideas, namely this often cited section on page 21,
What if there really is a heaven and there really is a hell, and where I spend eternity comes down to this one question? …. As you read this book I hope you would at least consider that this may be the most important question you ever answer. I believe the reason we were put on this earth is to answer this one question.
The right reason to be a Christian is to be in right relationship–a love relationship–with God, versus avoiding the punishment of hell or seeking the reward of heaven. To that end, Gregg wonders how Idleman experiences God’s love and why he does not mention it as a way of explaining his relationship with God.
Gregg notes additional places where Kyle Idleman’s exegesis is questionable and how Idelman never cites other biblical references that might contradict his position. Gregg wonders if this is because Idleman is trying to validate a position that, in key ways, is at odds with the biblical message. Gregg believes Idleman could build a stronger case for his message by testing his position against possible contradictory passages, in order to show how, in fact, they are not at odds.
John sees Idleman’s poor exegesis and over-emphasis of select fragments of scripture following the common error of thinking that every word or sentence from the Bible readily addresses, and should be applied to, every part of our lives–application that often ignores or fails to consider the context in which it was written or the meaning for it’s originally intended audience.
Gregg suggests that instead of asking “What,” we need to ask “Why”–Why did God create? Why did Jesus choose to be obedient to the point of dying on a cross? Starting with the “why” questions elicits and encourages relationship instead of gathering “data” about God through “What” questions.
Finally, Gregg believes Idelman’s “try harder” approach cannot deal with bad religion. For example, when the prophets were faced with the Israel that was not Israel as it was supposed to be, but wouldn’t admit it. Without this necessary sense of suspicion we risk being deeply dishonest by holding to a belief or a way of believing that is foul while we claim it to be fair.