30: Swallow the Pill | Chap 13 of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

Gregg opens with his view that Chapter 13 from Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman is among the most important in the entire book.  This is because it connects to (and helps clarify) the book’s core message: insuring people make “the right decision” and spend eternity in heaven.  In John’s words, the chapter emphasizes the need to “get your fire insurance policy in place before it’s too late.”

So when Idleman presents scenarios to motivate readers to make “the right decision” now and not put it off, John finds this inconsistent: when you love someone you are naturally committed to them and desirous of “doing the right thing” or spending time together–you don’t “put it off.”  So John highlights the irony that Idleman wants us to force (or even guilt) ourselves into a deeper commitment to Jesus, yet the relational content of Christianity is so sparsely presented!  For John, this presentation is ultimately empty and unsustainable: while the Bible may truly present who God is, such “truth” has no “reality” because there is no relationship (and so no life) in it.

Next, Idleman characterizes adult conversion to Christianity as occurring in moments of desperation when we are willing to “surrender all” to God.  John equates this with the book’s contention that becoming a Christian means becoming “a zero.”  Gregg also disagrees: because relationship with God is based on love (as the command to love God entirely), so the desperation + surrender model was never meant to be the norm.

Instead, we enter into relationship with God both according to the terms of a love relationship (where we are wooed and enticed within a context of mutuality, such that our desire is elicited instead of acting out of duty) and with our eyes “wide open” (where we maintain our reason and understandings of what the world is like so that we can distinguish and defend ourselves against false religion / Christianity).

John concludes that Idleman’s presentation of committing to Jesus is disjointed.  Gregg concurs: the New Testament examples of commitment to Jesus all include contexts of preexisting relationship with Jesus (where people have either experienced his goodness and relationality or heard from those who have).  So Gregg argues that God’s love is related enough to human love that we must experience it in much that same way as we experience human love: over time, in real situations & circumstances, as being related in some specific sense to me, etc.

In other words, commitment to God can and should be based on criteria that are clear, accessible, and truly motivating us toward full and meaningful relationship.

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