I recently read pastor Hugh Halter's 2011 book, Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus, and was both delighted and challenged by it. I congratulate him for writing it, and Baker Books for publishing it.
It is more and honest and blunt than many church folk will tolerate--which is exactly why it had to be written. It exposes the many ways we church folk don't live as Jesus did, and why we don't attract people the way he did. It reveals how we have become less like Jesus than like the people Jesus offended.
Using the Beatitudes as his framework, Halter takes a refreshing and irreligious look at Jesus, Scripture, family, spiritual formation, conversion, church, sin, and more. He challenges assumptions and scuttles religiosity with words like these:
Dogma, by nature, wraps God-inspired thoughts into a box and then bids you to stop thinking. It's done; you've got it all figured out. And once you have it all figured out, your only recourse is to force the entire box on someone else without considering the particularities of his or her life (p. 71).It is, as endorser Leonard Sweet says, "a carefully constructed theological Molotov cocktail which explodes false myths while it fires up the Christian imagination for truth, beauty, and goodness."