Friday, October 4, 2013

Saving Casper: respect rather than brute force

Jim Henderson and Matt Casper (Jim and Casper Go to Church) have teamed up again to discuss another important issue in how Christians relate to people outside the church. Saving Casper: A Christian and an Atheist Talk about Why We Need to Change the Conversion Conversation (Tyndale Momentum, 2013) reminds us that relationship matters.
After the success of their previous book, (Pastor Jim invited Atheist Casper to go to churches with him and to evaluate those churches), the burning question on numbers-focused (nickels and noses, butts and bucks) Christians is simple: but did he say the sinner’s prayer? Did he get saved?
And many of those numbers-focused folks would make a case that they’re being biblical, after all, the Savior’s last words were to go and make disciples, teach and baptize. Preaching from the pulpit at a local church, on a street corner, or at a huge rally should result in people being saved, and then it’s time to move on to the next sermon, the next event, the next corner or city.
But all too often for far too many Christians, getting someone to say the ‘sinner’s prayer’ is the end of the discipleship journey.  Henderson takes things to a new level with Casper. They two seem to have become friends, and although they may disagree on a number of things, they are building a relationship and the doors are left open. Henderson takes a different approach: instead of just trying to force his belief system on someone else, he has become engaged in listening and learning. Yes he does talk about his beliefs, but he is also interested in learning what Casper believes, and why, and how that translates into a worldview in which God does not play a major role.
The discussions in this book deal with the ‘big questions’ from the perspective of differing worldviews, and there is a sense of mutual respect throughout the discussion. Henderson never loses sight of the mandate of the Great Commission, but his approach tends to be gentler than we may have seen in the past. His approach is to lead someone into the kingdom rather than shoving, loving them into the kingdom rather than beating them into it. And although it may take longer, and require more work, the discipleship process is already in place.
Henderson is actively engaged in building bridges instead of walls, and that’s a lesson that we can all be reminded of from time to time.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

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