“My mission is to encourage people to love in spite of their pain, to sense the closeness of God despite their doubts, and to glimpse their full potential in Christ. I do this by offering myself as a faithful conduit — a conduit of love flowing from the heart of God and of wisdom flowing from his scriptures.” — Bren Hughes, author, Heaven’s Muscle
Heaven’s Muscle, by attorney and academic writer Bren Hughes, is the personal story of the author’s journey from evangelist to atheist and back. “God has led me on a journey from biblical scholar to atheist to campus minister to Spirit-filled attorney,” Hughes says. “Along the way, I’ve shucked off the husk of bad religion and discovered the joy and empowerment that comes from embracing God’s indwelling Spirit. The Lord gave me Heaven’s Muscle to help you find the joy and love that I’ve experienced.”
We asked Hughes a few questions about his book for the Patheos Book Club this month.
Briefly describe Heaven’s Muscle, the book itself.
It’s not too long, about 180 pages, but it’s jammed full of meaty biblical teachings. The engine that drives the book is my own personal story of changing from an incredibly religious young minister-in-training to an unbeliever, and from there to discovering a new kind of faith through my personal interactions with Jesus. My story essentially provides the skeleton upon which I hang the real meat of the book.
What’s your thesis, then?
The essential message of the book is that religion, including many aspects of American Christianity, has become a tool for hurting and oppressing people. Our spiritual enemy has taken something good, the church, and often twisted it into something hurtful. The antidote is to realize you don’t need anyone to mediate God for you. He is present within you, and his presence can transform your personality and your perspective, if you’ll invite him to do so.
Who is this book for?
It’s for Christians who want to deepen their experience of the Spirit and their knowledge of God’s long-term plan and the spiritual warfare it involves. It’s not an academic book by any means, but it assumes the reader knows his or her way around the Bible. The people who have responded most powerfully to the book have been those who, like me, grew up in strict conservative churches – churches where people sometimes used guilt and shame and obligation to manipulate people’s behavior. I feel the Lord has gifted me with being able to show there is another way – a way of freedom and empowerment and fearlessness.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This book is really full of warmth and hope. I don’t criticize anybody but the Devil. I think the antidote to bad religion and bad theology is just to preach the good stuff. And that’s what God’s doing through me in this book. I know this message will lift people’s spirits and change lives.
Visit the Patheos Book Club to read an excerpt from Heaven’s Muscle, and to learn more about the book.