January 20, 2012

[BOOK REVIEW]: Not a Fan

 

I am a fan of funny footnotes. (1) Consequently, Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan won me over in the first few pages with the witty repartee he has … with himself at the bottom of the page. Literary schizophrenia notwithstanding, the book is a collection of hard questions, engaging testimonies, true life stories, and biblical accounts all geared toward one purpose–to delineate the difference between being a fan of Jesus and being a follower of Jesus.

The genesis of Not a Fan began when Southeast Christian Church’s teaching pastor, Kyle Idleman, wondered what Jesus taught when big crowds gathered. “He would most often preach a message that would likely cause them to leave.” (2) 

The rest of the book turns on this-or-that propositions:

  • Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus?
  • Do you want Jesus or do you want what Jesus can provide for you?
  • Did you make a one-time decision or a lifelong commitment?
  • “Is Jesus one of many or is he your one and only?”
  • Are you a fan or are you a follower?

While reading the book, I was reminded of this popular quote:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Ghandi

In other words, cultural Christianity creates a community of Christ-fans who are content with complacency. (3) Lacking the substance of Christ that allows them to live and love as He does, they strive toward “a form of godliness.” (4) The exterior may appear to be Christian in form, but the interior needs serious remodeling. (5)

Watch the Not a Fan book trailer.

The questions raised in Not a Fan are simple though demanding. Both Christians and those interested in Jesus should take time to properly and prayerfully answer them. Why is that? Personally, Matthew 7:13-14 has always haunted me:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

In answering these questions, you may be able to come to an honest assessment of the path you’re on before it’s too late to change your course.

There is one drawback to Not a Fan: it demands accountability. (6) While the questions in the book can be answered by yourself, the entire premise of the book rests on your ability to act upon what you’ve read. As Kyle states, “following requires movement.”

If, after reading Not a Fan, you don’t understand the difference between a fan and a follower, find a Christian who exudes kindness, humility, love, joy, peace, and patience, and ask them why Christ matters to them. If they talk more about Christ than about themselves, you’ll know you’ve found a follower and not a fan. In other words, Jesus isn’t simply a footnote in the story of their lives.

My name is Blake Atwood (7), and I’m a fan of Not a Fan.

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1 And alliteration. Also, sorry this footnote wasn’t funny.
2 Notice that he did not offer them coffee, a bounce-house, or free Wi-fi.
3 I told you I liked alliteration. Also, the dictionary.com definition of complacency is quite fitting in connection to this book: “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”
2 Timothy 3:5
5 This is not a new issue. See Matthew 23:27
6 For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it most often means airing out your proverbial dirty laundry to a trusted friend. For those of you familiar with this term, it most often means coming up with the least grievous sin you can think of that still sounds like something major so you can feel better about yourself after having shared it, even though you know you didn’t share the real issue that really needs to be dealt with.
7 The footnotes will be funny next time. Promise.

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This review was based on a review copy provided by the publisher.

Originally posted August 15, 2011

Originally Published: January 20, 2012
Category: Books
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Jonathan Petersen
Blake: I’m writing to ask if you’re interested in reviewing on your blog and on Amazon the just-released book, The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture by New York Times bestselling author Stephen Mansfield (Worthy Publishing, 2012). If so, please
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contact me: jpetersen AT somersaultgroup DOT com. Thanks! Jonathan Petersen
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