Christianity Lite: More Me, Less God- Stop Drinking a Watered Down Gospel by Glen Berteau delivers a message that all churches and Christians need to hear more often. Dispelling the myth of feel good Christianity and prosperity teaching, Berteau discusses unpopular topics such as sin and personal responsibility. With a photo-shopped image of a beverage bottle, dripping with cool refreshing condensation, the cover of this book is certain to to lure in any reader. Yet the tempting bottle, reflects a diluted, tainted, lukewarm, counterfeit Christianity- which only appears to be refreshing, but in reality leads to spiritual death.
There is a problem with many modern churches and Christians- a counterfeit gospel is being preached, taught and embraced. In the days of the early church Paul warned about a false gospel and a false Christ- and how willingly Christians are deceived into accepting whatever sounds good and easy at the time. Apparently in the modern day, not much has changed as countless self professed Christians and mega churches preach a gospel of material prosperity, leaving out the concept of sin, humility and sacrifice. Essentially, the author compares this to a lite beer, in which much of the substance essential is removed. "Christianity Lite" is in essence a religion in of itself. And not only that, it has many followers. This real hallmarks of Jesus is summed up by the author's words in the first chapter: "Jesus didn't come to make us happy. He came to humiliate our flesh.... He offends our pride. He offends our habits and our lifestyle. He offends our emotions and our minds. He confronts our selfishness, arrogance, and self-pity... He's not satisfied with half- baked commitment and lukewarm zeal." page 14 This book is heavily based on scripture. In fact there is a lot of scripture within the text itself. In contrast to many writers who deliver a message based on personal anecdotes which are frequently not applicable to the reader, Berteau depends heavily on the use of scripture- God's own words. Yet his modern day analogies are powerful. For example, he explains that today, Jesus is simply like a Xanax to make people feel good about their lives. Nevertheless the biblical message speaks for itself. He offers very little interpretation beyond the scriptural message- exposing truth with relevant scripture. His writing is easy to read yet professional, and thankfully free from opinions and biases- which are found all too often in books on Christian living. Many Christian books simply touch the surface of the gospel message, focusing on feel good messages and prosperity preaching. In this book the heroes are those who gave their lives for Christ such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer who had the courage and gave his life taking a stand against Hitler. This book delivers a more complete message that so many other writers leave out in fear of offending their readers. The author did his research and has gleaned out just about every verse in scripture, relevant passages, parables and accounts referencing false teaching, counter-fit Christs and lukewarm faith. Glenn also has a good grasp of human psychology in explaining why people are so willing to accept a false watered down gospel message. Not only that, but he covers the consequences of false Christianity. Only one element would make this book even better at reaching its broad audience- a chart. Relevant questions for the reader at the end of the chapter give the reader another opportunity to reflect on the material. The implementation of a visual chart with bullet points contrasting Christianity Lite with true, authentic, biblical Christianity would be more effective in summing up the material for today's reader. Such a chart or graph would be perfect if placed in the appendix in the back of the book to reinforce the important message. Perhaps this can be considered in a future edition of this book.
Modern counterfeit Christianity a.k.a. Christianity Lite is set side by side and contrasted with the true Christianity of the bible. Only by exposing its deficits in light of scriptural truth, can the reader be confronted with the likelihood that he too has fallen for and accepted Christianity Lite as well. This is a book that one can return to and re-read. Although its simple to understand, the message delivered is one that is consistent with biblical teaching; a message that all Christians should mediate on. This book goes beyond religious denominations, age or socio-economic status. It is a book that all Christians and churches need to hear. This message is empowering in that it sheds light on biblical truth- urging the reader to have the confidence to truly follow Christ. Hopefully those readers not following the true gospel, who themselves are deceived by watered down Christianity will find themselves convicted and led to the truth. "if you've been drinking Christianity Lite, spit it out!" page 30 The only issue I found is that the author compartmentalizes the gospel to reflect a Charismatic theology, or "spiritual gift" point of view. For example, the author states that only having either the word alone or the Spirit alone isn't enough- one must have both or you will "dry" up or "blow" up. To divide this aspect of faith or fruit of faith into two distinct and separate components, doesn't make biblical sense. For example if one truly has the Holy Spirit, then they do so because they are saved and have the word. If what a believer possessed was not sufficient then that person would not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Also, some readers- might not appreciate the author's personal anecdote- his literal "first encounter with demonic forces" of an actual possession of a young boy- by a demon at a retreat. Such a story reflects the author's belief in literal, modern day possession stories- a belief that not all biblical churches or believers share This doctrine is not a major Christian doctrine, but it is divisive enough in that some new smaller denominations have been created in response to the issue. Some Christians may be just as adamant, just as grounded in their faith yet believe that "spiritual" signs like possession and other supernaturally classified miracles ended in the ancient days of the early church.
The author dedicates a chapter to an essential aspect of "authentic" Christianity that "Christianity Lite" neglects such as power, prayer, cost (sacrifice), offence, service and sharing. Finally, Berteau illustrates the effects of authentic Christianity on the Christian in that it has the power to change the world even through a single authentic believer.
As a blogger for the Booketeria I received this book published by Passio for the purpose of writing this review.