By Tim Pietz | Contributor
Through Scripture and examples from his ministry experience, the Rev. Greg Paul opposes the legalism of "religion" by challenging Christians to resurrect true religion.
However, he knows the solution is not a private, irrelevant faith but must be a balance between doctrine and action.
In today's church, Paul sees Satan playing two main factions against each other: those who promote personal holiness and those who promote social justice. "Resurrecting Religion" affirms that both are grounded in Scripture and are connected, with an emphasis on Christians' neglect of the poor.
As James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (NIV).
In addition to James 1:27, Paul's other biblical bases for valuing the poor are numerous and convicting. A sample of these many verses are James 2:8-9, Luke 14:12-14, Exodus 22:22-24, Isaiah 58:3-7 and Matthew 5:3-10. Each of these verses emphasizes the value God places on helping the poor, the neglected and the oppressed.
On top of this, Paul lives what he preaches. Firsthand examples from the faith community of Sanctuary Toronto demonstrate Christian engagement in a troubled world - without ignoring the difficulties and messiness that comes with it.
Paul's balanced, thoughtful, and passionate entreaty has a lot going for it. Conservatives, in particular, are challenged in a way they respect: through Scripture. "Resurrecting Religion" has the potential to help Christians of opposite extremes unite and fight on a common ground.
Unfortunately, Paul goes beyond this. Throughout the book, Paul's central argument is supported through well-cited Scripture. However, he frequently brings up unnecessary side-arguments - mostly political - that risk alienating his conservative readers.
Liberal beliefs on pacifism, gun-control, homosexuality, government aid and other issues are thrown in without nuance or debate. Lovingly disagreeing Christians are ignored.
In addition, Paul's theorizing about biblical individuals sometimes tints Scripture beyond the plain reading. For instance, he refers to Jesus as "left-of-center" (Page 74), further drawing a political line.
"Resurrecting Religion" contains valuable thoughts on living out Scripture. While its blatant politics detract from its message, it has the potential to challenge Christians of all persuasions.