BOOK REVIEW: Good Faith

Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman have teamed up again for an insightful, data-driven look at the state of American religion and culture from an evangelical point of view. Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme offers an evaluation of religious trends coupled with practical and reasonable suggestions for how to approach our shifting, pluralistic society. Following their formula of love - believe - live, Lyons and Kinnaman deliver helpful information and insights about:

 

The real state of faith in America

Their research details the rise of the “nones” but also gives real data about the country’s Christian heritage and the formidable number of practicing Christians who still remain. It may only be inertia at this point, but it is still carrying us forward.

Three out of four US adults have some Christian background, but about three in five American Christians are mostly inactive in their faith.
Our data show the drop-off is happening mostly among legacy Christians, those who self-identify as Christian but don’t prioritize faith. The proportion of practicing Christians— those who attend worship services monthly and say faith is very important to their lives— is relatively stable.

Even though the authors end the book with a chapter on exile, comparing America to Babylon, for most of the book they are not given to hyperbole or prognosticating. You get a good snapshot of the situation facing American believers.

 

A substantive three-chapter discussion about sexuality

Lyons and Kinnaman don't back away from difficult topics like gay marriage, nor from their traditional views. But they also refuse to abandon fairness and dignity for the people who make those discussions about more than public policy or hermeneutics.

 

Enough pithy wisdom about the decaying state of our public discourse to dry out your highlighter

The state of our union is one of dis-union. The conversational health of our society is in bad shape.
Our resolve to love the “other” must supersede our desire to win in the court of public opinion.
Instead of a culture war, we are engaged in a struggle over the human imagination.

 

A timely call to multiracial expressions of church

The problem for the church is that many (if not most) Christian communities in the United States are homogenous—that is, not diverse at all. And layered atop the problem of most churches’ ethnic homogeneity is the popular idea that the “good Christian” thing to do is to practice colorblindness—where we ignore differences altogether.
Evangelism and cultural renewal are both divinely ordained duties.

 

A way forward

Good Faith is a good read. I found myself making a long list of people I wanted to give a copy. It is a call to avoid fuzzy-headed fearfulness, to take a clear and detailed look at our current cultural moment, and to live countercultural lives for God’s glory.