Our small group read Mere Churchianity over the summer and early fall. One of our members has been following the site www.interentmonk.com, started by Michael Spencer, for years. Honestly, we collectively had mixed reviews of the book.
On the positive side:
- Spencer really understands the frustrations of many people with classic Fundamentalist Christianity.
- Spencer also does a great job explaining that fundamentalism is not the only way to be authentically Christian.
- Also, Spencer winsomely redirects the church and church dropouts to focus on Jesus instead of our defunct traditions.
- Spencer also hints at a few possible solutions for our massive dysfunctions.
- Spencer frustratingly equates evangelicalism with fundamentalism. As an evangelical who is not fundamentalist, this drove me crazy.
- Spencer paints with a broad brush, sweeping all churches and Christians into large stereotypes. This was also very frustrating. Our group found ourselves understanding with his frustrations but disagreeing with his stereotypes.
- While Spencer hints at solutions, he is noticeably short on answers. To be fair though, part of his point is that the answers are not so easy and available as we've claimed.
Overall, I would say this is a good book for people who have been deeply hurt by the church. This can give them hope that they can still be Christian despite their frustrations with the church. I wish it was more balanced, but perhaps the imbalance is itself a gift to those who have had a negatively imbalanced experience of church (and to those of us who need to understand the natural feelings embedded in that type of experience).
The Josh rating: JJJ.