Rev. Jonathan Fisk, the young pastor known for his lively Worldview Everlasting videos, has published a book entitled Broken – Seven “Christian” Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible. This is a book that needs to get into the hands of Christians who are emergent, burnt out, disillusioned, lapsed, millennial, cynical, and the pastors who minister to them. What are the 7 rules that need to be broken?Well, it’s not quite as easy as just listing them apart from understanding what Rev. Fisk is trying to do in this book. He argues that Christians often get entangled in 7 misunderstandings or misperceptions that distort what Christianity is actually about. These misunderstandings, in turn, manifest themselves in different rules that Christians think they have to follow. But following these rules results in spiritual problems and frustrations. Actually, Christians need to break these rules, which they can do by the power of the Gospel and the truths of God’s Word.
So instead of listing the rules, I will list the 7 areas that Rev. Fisk takes on:
(1) Mysticism; the notion that “you can find God in your heart: the worship of your emotions.”
(2) Moralism; the notion that “you can find God in your hands: the worship of your works.”
(3) Rationalism; the notion that “you can find God with your mind: the worship of your thoughts.”
(4) Prosperity: the notion that “you can find God in this world: the worship of mammon.”
(5) Churchology: the notion that “you can find God in churches: the worship of spirituality.”
(6) Freedom: the notion that “you can find God in God’s absence: the worship of Lawlessness.”
(7) Counterfeit Christianity: the notion that “you can find God: the worship of yourself.”
What is left, you might ask? Well, God finding us. Christ. The Cross. The Atonement. The Gospel. God’s Word and Sacraments.
A book about the need to “break rules” might be thought to be antinomian, rejecting God’s law and good works, but this certainly is not. In fact, antinomianism is the subject of #6. In #5, I’m sure that Rev. Fisk understands God’s presence in church. What he refers to there is the idea that all I have to do is just find the perfect church, the impulse that takes many people to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy (and Lutheranism, I suppose, though one finds that it isn’t “perfect”).
The book is lucidly written, full of personal experiences, vivid descriptions, and striking explanations. The style is taken over from Rev. Fisk’s well known videos, so the language is conversational to the point of being slangy (my main complaint about the book, which has the makings of a classic except that it will have to be revised every year or so, since nothing seems more outdated than once-fashionable language that has gone out of fashion). The book has all kinds of graphics and visual flourishes (which I will tolerate this time). But it communicates and it connects.
Broken comes down on the side of confessional Lutheranism, which for Rev. Fisk offers a framework for the Christian life that avoids these dangers, but you don’t have to be a Lutheran to profit from this book.