How to be a Bad Christian… And a Better Human Being

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Dave Tomlinson

In the course of his work as a vicar, Dave Tomlinson meets lots of people who describe themselves as ‘not good enough’ to be a Christian, thinking that faith involves going to church a lot, or believing in a list of strange things, or following certain rules. But being a Christian isn’t about any of that – and actually, following Jesus is a lot easier, and more fun, than most people think…

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Description

If (Justin) Lee and (Scott) Evans can legitimately be described as post-evangelical pilgrims, the grandfather of their movement is Dave Tomlinson. His 1995 book ‘The Post Evangelical’ was prescient of much that has happened since, and though controversial at the time would now be seen by many as tame. Much of what McLaren, Bell and co have written in recent years owes something of its courage to Tomlinson. His new book “How to Be a bad Christian, And a Better Human Being” updates his own pilgrimage, with insights drawn from life as a busy London vicar. There is much to enjoy here – the book is kind; light-hearted; relaxed and imbued with a deep pastoral sensitivity. It’s weakness is that it is still overshadowed by the ‘post’ of ‘post-evangelical’. The stories are moving, but many of them, it seems, still rely for their impact on knocking down the ‘Aunt Sally’ of a narrow and essentially miserable spirituality. If Tomlinson indeed left this behind nearly twenty years ago, why does it still haunt him so? He’s at his best in the later chapters, where he stops talking about what his faith isn’t, and tells us a little more of what it is. This is necessary, since it is unfair to knock the faith of others unless you are prepared to put your own out their for equal analysis. I was left wondering, though, whether the Enneagram-fuelled soft-Anglicanism with which Tomlinson has replaced his charismatic-evangelical fervour really passes muster as a new way forward.

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