In Good News for Anxious Christians, Phillip Cary, a philosophy professor at Eastern University, challenges what he calls “the new evangelical theology,” which is “a set of supposedly practical ideas about transforming your life that gets in the way of believing the gospel” (p. x). The techniques that he covers “all have the characteristic that they turn you away from external things like the word of God, Christ in the flesh, and the life of the church, in order to seek God in your heart, your life, your experience. Underneath a lot of talk about being personal with God, it’s a spirituality that actually leaves you alone with yourself” (p. xi).
With this premise in mind, Cary goes on to attack ten “sacred cows” of the new evangelicalism. As a college professor he constantly sees these faulty ways of Christian living and thinking in his students. These young people have grown up in an evangelical environment that has perpetuated these myths for the entirety of their lives. They are unaware that the matters Cary discusses are recent distortions of the truth and not part of historical Christianity. Cary is writing primarily for these students and his writing style reflects that. It is colloquial, repetitive, and relatively simple. Such a writing style might be irritating to older or more astute readers, but the content of the book is excellent.
The sacred cows of the new evangelicalism include:
As can be seen, each of these challenges to evangelical thought would elicit much discussion. But Cary handles each topic well with clearly thought-out reasoning and biblical understanding. This is a helpful book and would be a great study for a high school or college Bible study. – Gary Gilley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Like a succession of failed diet regimens, the much-touted techniques that are supposed to bring us closer to God "in our hearts" can instead make us feel anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. How can we meet and know God with ongoing joy rather than experiencing the Christian life as a series of guilt-inducing disappointments?
Drawing on his work with college students, Phillip Cary shows Christians that discipleship is a gradual, long-term process that comes through the Bible experienced in Christian community, not a to-do list designed to help them live the Christian life "right." This lucidly written book covers ten things Christians don't have to do to be close to God, such as hear God's voice in their hearts, find God's will for their lives, and believe their intuitions are the Holy Spirit. Presenting a time-honored approach to the gospel that is beautiful and liberating, Cary skillfully unpacks the riches of traditional Christian spirituality to bring the real good news to Christians of all ages.