"I want to burn your books ..."
A reader writes:
I read A New Kind of Christian a number of months ago and took part in a pastors roundtable in [my city]. Since then, I became fascinated with your writing and how you develop theological inquiry in your book, so I orderd the next two in that series and have enjoyed the readings. I have a number of things happening inside of me as I read your books. First, I feel unburdened and liberated…I know you hear this all the time, but I have no other way of stating that, really. Second, I find myself wanting to burn your books, and not in my mind either ;) I think that you and many like you, offer a reading which sees God as ultimately loving to ALL, and that perhaps he has been working out his plan of salvation which will, in the end, defy our logic or theological doctrine. Not knowing where to go with that, as a pastor leading a congregation not on board with that way of thinking, can be quite frustrating.
I think my frustration has very much to do with impatience and fear. As a pastor, if I steam forward with this “new” theology, as many would see it, how many will be left in the wake as casualties…and because of ME! If I accept for myself this way of thinking and living into a new Christianity, my patience for others will be tested, wondering why no one else is “getting it”. I realize this does not really help you perhaps, but if I were to make a suggestion for theological development, I would suggest a book on patience in the church, or some such thing. Maybe you’ve already written something like that.
...God bless you and the work you are doing in the name of Jesus Christ. Even though you frustrate me at times, I look forward to reading more of your books.
Thanks for these kind and encouraging (mostly!) words. Just yesterday I had a long phone conversation with a young pastor in the same situation. It's far more widespread than most people think. The one place where I've written the most on the need for patience and understanding is the last section of A New Kind of Christianity which came out in 2010. I think you'd find it helpful. Thanks again for writing -and for reading.