When I was growing up, the emphasis in the brand of Christianity that I was raised in was believing in Jesus so that you could go to heaven when you died. Thirty years later the times have changed a little and so has the idea that there’s more to the Christian walk than eternal security. There was always more, but now it’s more in vogue to talk about what that more is. So, when I saw the title of Jefferson Bethke’s new book, It’s Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die, I thought it might be an interesting read.
In this book, Bethke explores many topics from the narrative of Christianity to the idea of sharing a meal with both your loved ones and enemies. It’s a really wide ranging book, and it explores seven or eight topics as it goes along its way. He heavily quotes from Christian writers such as, N.T. Wright and C.S. Lewis as he goes through the book and he gives a list of recommended reading at the end.
I found Bethke’s writing style to be appealing. He tells stories very transparently from his own life as well as stories that he’s heard or read along the way, and those stories add greatly to the ideas that he’s writing about. As far as his ideas go, I never really felt like they were his original ideas because of the heavy quotations and the themes of other writers I could see in his book. I would instead consider this book perhaps a meditation on the reading that Bethke has done and how he’s applied it to his life and to his ideas about the Bible instead of a theological work of its own. In fact, once of my greater disappointments about his book is that he doesn’t actually spend a great deal of time with his own exegesis of scripture, but instead, he draws heavily on the ideas of other Christian writers, and with the exception of the first chapter, I felt like he never truly dwelt in the Bible for any of his ideas.
Still, I found Bethke’s style to be interesting, his stories to be relatable and the ideas that he’s sharing to be ideas that are often intriguing and new to the millenials that would seem to be his primary audience.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.