I was left with more questions than answers at the end of the Hollingsworths’ book. I think they perhaps intended that effect, purposefully distancing themselves from the pat answers of a controlled-narrative Christianity. I will continue to ask myself these questions as I continue to digest their story:
How does mental health impact our experience of God? (I found myself recognizing certain tendencies in Jonathan Hollingsworth that are reminicent of ones I dealt with in OCD–and sometimes still deal with. Did he suffer from a similar disorder? Are there certain personalities who are more prone to legalism than others?)
How do we balance a concern for what is close to God’s heart–the poor and the downtrodden–with the freedom and grace found in the Gospel? How do we avoid both a callous, consumeristic Christianity (what radicalism is seeking to fight) AND a Christianity that wraps legalism in the language of social justice?
How do we manage to continue to walk in grace when we see a world filled with unrelenting suffering? How do we deal with the reality that no matter how much we do, it will never truly be enough?
How should the story the Hollingsworths tell impact our approach to missions and ministry giving? How can we avoid contributing to organizations that engage in spiritual control? How can we ensure our young people are protected from abuse when they enter into ventures in world missions or into Christian ministry?
How can we manage to hold to the central tenets of orthodox Christianity without forcing a narrative-controlling construct on fellow Christians? Is there a gracious, non-controlling way to uphold orthodoxy? Are there some matters simply too important to surrender?
Finally, once we encounter grace, as I did in the Lutheran Church and as Jonathan did, should we expect times of legalism and spiritual anxiety to reemerge? Is there a danger that our obsessive tendencies could actually lead us to “do grace” perfectly too? How can we live as people who are always “in recovery” from legalism and spiritual obsessiveness?
And those questions are just for starters. I’m grateful for this book. You should read it too.
Note: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post is part of the Patheos Book Club.
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