The Love that Will Not Let You Go: Being Christian is Not What You Think (Wipf and Stock, $19), is a crystalline distillation of Douglas Heidt’s thoughts about Christianity after nearly 50 years in pastoral ministry. This slender but potent volume is packed with insight, wisdom, and challenges for individual Christians as well as the church as a whole.
Heidt’s thesis is disarmingly simple: that God and Love are one and the same and that the Christian calling is to accept, embrace, and live out this Love in the world. In explicating this understanding of Christianity, Heidt explores “the supreme vitality and power of Love in human experience” and examines “ways we can embrace the vision that God is Love itself.” (11)
He grounds this discussion in first-hand stories drawn from his ministerial experience, and persuasively shows how lived-out-love can redefine our ideas about the church, the Bible, and the broader Christian narrative.
There is no doubt that much of what passes for Christianity today has drifted far from the shores of Love, and as a result has run aground on the seemingly intractable differences that often have little to do with the true message of Christ. This disconnect results in a Christianity that, to many people, “simply doesn’t make sense; it isn’t credible, it’s complicated, it doesn’t engage, and it doesn’t excite.” (15)
Heidt calls us to move beyond this sort of hollow and lifeless faith and to discover a Christianity that is vibrant and meaningful:
The uncomplicated, unvarnished truth of the Christian faith, Christianity in its simplest form, is living, celebrating, and extending Love through all creation–Love that is persistent, unceasing, unconditional, undeserved, uninterrupted, eternal, universal, forgiving, healing, and sacrificial. (128)
Heidt’s writing is straightforward and practical, capably avoiding both the saccharine vapidness of so-called “inspirational” Christian literature, as well the opaque heavy-handedness that often plagues theological discourse. This is what Christian writing should be: thoughtful, honest, passionate, and infused with spiritual wisdom.
The Love that Will Not Let You Go alone won’t change the course of Christianity, but nevertheless it a valuable contribution toward that end. We would all do well to heed Heidt’s call to embrace Christianity in its simple beauty, to realize that “being Christian is not what you think, it’s what you do” (127), and to express the Love of God to those around us in all we do.
Dan is the Executive Editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians blog. He is a writer, graphic designer and IT specialist. He lives in Montana, is married and has three cats.