Church Outside the Walls, by Raj Samuel

Hopefully you won’t find much, content-wise, to disagree with in this short book. That, in fact, is the first problem you will encounter. It seems a bit boring to begin with. But persist.

The second thing that might ‘put you off’ is the presentation. It comes across as quite arrogant. No frills, no stories, just the facts. But persist.

The truth is, according to the author, when we call ourselves ‘followers of Jesus’, we are actually followers of the religion called Christianity. The two are not the same. Most of us have heard these complaints about the ‘church’ at various times. We note them as facts, yet continue on as usual. Why?

Many books that address the issues facing the church often end by pulling their punches. The scenario often plays out like this, ‘yes, the church is not what it ought to be, but never forget all the good it has and is doing’. In other words, we become acquainted with the problems, but are always given a way to escape acting upon those problems. We settle in to the notion, ‘it is what it is’ and won’t ever change. Or, the church is changing, it just takes time. Or, I see what you are saying, but so many people over so many years can’t be wrong. We’ve ‘married’ the church ‘for better or for worse’. But…

Samuel argues his case, chapter by chapter, topic by topic, succinctly and pointedly. The reader is then, rather abruptly, abandoned at the end, left alone to wonder – ‘what, now, must all this mean for me?’ Is my faith in Christianity or in Christ? Can I be a true follower of Christ within the structure of Christianity as it is today? Does my religion compromise my witness? Lots of questions to wrestle with. Samuel does not offer an escape route. He holds our feet to the fire. But persist.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

 

 

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One Response to “Church Outside the Walls, by Raj Samuel”

  1. I see you reviewed (a while ago) the book, Nelson’s Illustrated Guide to Religions. I’m writing to ask if you’re interested in reviewing on your blog and on Amazon the just-released book, The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture by New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield (Worthy Publishing, 2012). If so, please contact me: jpetersen AT somersaultgroup DOT com. Thanks! Jonathan Petersen

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