John and Gregg discuss Chapter Three of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. As Idleman’s use of the Bible in chapter one and chapter two seemed shaky, they are both pleasantly surprised to find that his use of Luke 7 squares with what they find in the Bible.
Gregg then dives into a discussion of “knowledge” and the different types of knowledge–knowledge of facts / events vs. relational knowledge / intimacy that parallels Idleman’s discussion of whether we simply have knowledge of God or intimacy (relationship) with him.
Gregg comments on how Jesus praises two people (centurion and prostitute) who are despised by society, noting how 1st century readers would be shocked (as Simon the Pharisee was) about Jesus’ interaction with the prostitute. Yet the prostitute responded rightly and, against Kyle’s idea that “Christianity is Jesus interfering with our lives”, Gregg argues that the prostitute’s response was an extravagant, powerful response to Jesus as someone who is in love (there’s knowledge, but it’s about love).
We finish by discussing whether Jesus’ death or Jesus’ healing is a better basis for embracing Christianity and how, if faith in God is born out of something, Christianity is a love relationship not born from duty but from desire–a desire for God that responds to being known and loved by God.
This episode looks at Chapter Two of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. In light of Kyle Idleman’s view that Christianity must “cost us” and that authentic Christianity is marked by Jesus “interfering” with our lives, John opens the question of what constitutes Christian commitment.
So we explore Idleman’s view that Nicodemus, while being impressed by Jesus’ love, remained only a fan (which cost Nicodemus nothing). Gregg disagrees: Can we remain untouched by love? And how does the notion of “interference” fit within a love relationship—do my children mostly “interfere” with my life, or is there a better way of seeing the matter?
We go on to consider believing in God versus following God, and so discuss the implications for monotheistic Jews “believing” that Jesus was the son of God compared the implications for us believing the same thing today.
Bringing together the question of Christian belief or commitment and the idea that Christianity involves a love relationship with God, Gregg argues that Christianity is not about reward (going to heaven) or punishment (going to hell). We examine this by contrasting love and the experience of love—as a law written upon the heart—with an orientation to God that stems from will and duty.
Returning to part of our discussion in Episode #3, we delve deeper into John’s question about why people’s experiences differ. Specifically, while John and Gregg have been mostly negative about Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, the vast majority of Amazon reviewers have given it 5 stars (the highest review possible). How can so many people consider the book to be so good, yet we don’t?
In response we explore how our interpretation of our experiences of the world and God affect the conclusions we come to. John wonders if religious communities allow us to have our own experience of God or if instead they try tell us how we to should feel or react to God.
Gregg explains how some painful past experiences contributed to his conclusions about God (and particularly, God’s justice). He also notes how new experiences can expand these conclusions, but only when our goal is an honest attachment to truth (and not a need to preserve a certain self-identity).
Likewise, we discuss how to assess the difference between positive and negative responses to Not a Fan. First, by vetting Kyle Idleman’s use of the Bible (his exegesis). Second, by questioning readers about how their relationship with God is better after having read the book, and doing so in part by asking what truth value they have attributed to the Bible’s truth claims, and why. We’ll be discussing what truth values and truth claims are in a future episode.
We conclude with a discussion of the value of testimony and the distinction between knowing about God (factual knowledge) versus knowing God through relationships (relational knowledge), and how these last two are reciprocal.
In this episode we discuss Chapter One of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Idleman asserts that Jesus pushes us to “define the relationship” (DTR) that we have with him. Idleman argues that a core distinction of being either a fan or follower of Jesus, is the need properly to resolve this crucial question:
What if all of life comes down to this one question? What if there really is a heaven and there really is a hell, and where I spend eternity comes down to how you answer this question?” (Not a Fan, page 21).
In response, Gregg argues that rather than pushing us to ‘define the relationship’ God instead seeks and woos us, and that Christianity is not essentially about punishment (hell) or reward (heaven) but about whether God really loves us and how we would know this.
Also, Gregg argues that a binary distinction (where being a ‘fan’ is bad and a ‘follower’ is good) is neither relevant nor warranted, because where we stand in a relationship is a deeply complex matter based on our experiences and history as an individual.
John sees as an ongoing theme of drama, doubt and sowing seeds of “never enough.” He also wonders how often we see examples in the bible of Jesus forcing people to define their relationship with him and if this cornerstone idea from Not A Fan squares with the Bible.
Idleman’s assertion in this chapter about making a decision about eternity comes up frequently in future discussions, hereafter known as “page twenty one.”
This episode kicks of our in-depth discussion of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. We start in the Prologue and begin discussing Idleman’s core message–question of whether your are a “Fan” or “Follower” of God. Neither of us is convinced that these are the best categories. We also discuss Idleman’s loose handling and use of the “Feeding of the 5,000” to make a point.
John raises an issue that seems to be missing or presupposed in not a fan which is why someone should or would want to be a follower of God. Looking ahead to chapter one, Idleman appears to be leading in the direction of suggesting that the issue of fan vs. follower is critical towards determining where a person will spend eternity.
We look at this a little deeper and question whether this doesn’t cheapen the whole meaning of love and being in relation with God–the idea that people will simply chose the “right” answer of “being a follower” because they want to go to heaven. Is that really the only and best relationship to be in relationship with God?
Gregg talks about being overwhelmed by God’s love and that being in love is what makes him a follower, not where he is going to spend eternity or duty. He also talks about how when we are in love we respond in different ways and are transformed–we like the people we become. We don’t love God for naught–that isn’t a love relationship.
We also start to talk about the notion of “experience” and what that means and how it plays out in what we believe.
And there’s more too, so listen to the episode and tell us what you think.