This week John and Gregg discuss Chapters 1 and 2 from Darin Hufford’s book titled The Misunderstood God: The Lies Religion Tells About God.
We have mixed feelings about the book. Hufford makes some good observations about what doesn’t work in Christianity which is refreshing and yet also makes sweeping generalizations about how people feel and experience things we couldn’t relate to.
The general focus of Hufford’s presentation is that “we” (he uses that phrase a lot to refer to all Christians) have been lied to by our Christian culture about who God is and how he relates to us. Each chapter takes a look at different misunderstandings about God Hufford perceives.
Hufford suggests that the way we live and experience of God does not match the message Christians proclaim and that Christians live and act like their relationship with God is working when it’s really not.
Hufford asks a large audience if they are miserable in their relationship with God and many people raise their hands. This is a turning point for the way Hufford approaches Christianity.
John sees significance in Hufford’s revelation and re-orientation towards as he puts it “loving people” and how that changed the way he saw them and related to them. Gregg expresses caution around Hufford’s idea that, “you know what the gospel means by loving the people the message is for.”
Gregg suggests a better approach is, “No, I get the gospel message because I have been loved by God not because I’ve fallen in love other people.” Gregg sees the source of this love as coming from God–NOT from loving other people as Hufford states.
John likes Hufford’s observation that he changed his focus from “the message” and turned it instead to “the people.” This does seem like a good change in orientation.
John and Gregg conflicted on Hufford’s dramatic examples and analogies and yet appreciate the value he places on our experience of God and that it’s more than okay to question and examine them in light of who God is supposed to be and that that action is not mistrusting God. Gregg wonders if after bringing down the hammer to make a point, Hufford would be better served to back off a little and nuance some of the finer points.
Next the conversation turns to Christianity not being about “reward and punishment” and Hufford’s observation that it’s strange how fear is used as a tool to motivate Christians into a loving relationship with God. John mentions reading Love Wins by Rob Bell and refers to parallels he sees in Hufford’s points.
This leads to reflection on how Christians handle tough ideas that don’t make sense by putting them in a “special God category” and classifying them as things that humans can’t understand. It’s possible an idea really doesn’t make sense and what is being espoused is “bad Christianity.”
John reflects on a recent experience of visiting a church and the new perspective he had as a result of not going for a long time–and that not necessarily being a bad thing.
Gregg suggests that when we go to church we aren’t always getting the “truth.” Just because you “hear something at church” doesn’t make it automatically true. Everyone on the inside says, “Look we are doing all the right things” and maybe they aren’t. Gregg believes that if you are pursuing Truth you will find God, even if you leave church or Christianity as you currently know it.
Gregg challenges John to collect the top 10 questions that you can’t ask at church or that would never be answered and believes they would make for an interesting podcast discussion.
We’d love to hear your unanswerable church questions or topics in the comments too. If you’ve read the book leave a comment letting us know if you agree with our observations or have something else to add to the conversation.