Monday, October 8, 2012

Review for "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" by Dave Burchett

The title draws you in, doesn't it? Who hasn't been hurt by someone claiming to be a Christian? In this revised edition, Dave Burchett adds chapters that reveal God has continued to work at healing his own wounded heart. I had not read the 2002 version, and am glad I started with the 2011 version. The best chapters were the last, and the latest. The byline of the title is "Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage." I would argue that most of the book is spent on the "where we have failed each other" category. It is not hard to catalog a list of dumb, obnoxious, ignorant, and hurtful things Christians have done to each other and non-Christians. Burchett seems to vent a lot of his own pent-up steam in writing these chapters. While admitting frequently that he realizes now that he used to be one of the very people he rails against, Burchett still comes across as angry, cocky, and condescending. Still, he writes with honesty about the problems of legalism, moralism, and generally being "insider-minded" about our faith, and I am sure many readers have found catharsis in reading someone else's rantings about the things that also bother them. I had hoped the book would contain more information about "how to reverse the damage" - more about forgiveness, grace, healing for those who are hurt. The last couple of chapters detail Burchett's own journey in discovering grace, after publishing the original version of the book. The chapters are the most honest and most helpful, in my opinion. The book does contain some food for thought and good ideas for ways sincere Christians can be genuine in sharing their faith and avoid being obnoxious or even hurtful. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for purposes of review, and am not required to give a positive opinion. 3 out of 5 stars.