Every Woman a Theologian
— What Christians Don't Like —
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Last week on Instagram I asked a question. It was out of pure curiosity (and procrastination on a manuscript deadline, which by God's grace I met on Monday!): What is something in Christian culture you just aren't into/don't resonate with? The answers ranged from insightful to hilarious (I laughed out loud reading several of them!).
What I found most fascinating is that some of the things we “dislike” in Christian culture are not wrong; they're preferences based on our denominational comforts. For instance, some of the things Christians don't like were:
  • Raising hands during worship
  • KJV only traditions
  • Requiring church membership
  • Singing the bridge of a worship song over and over
  • Over-emphasis on the sovereignty of God
  • Idolatry of missions
  • Greeting your neighbor during service
  • Big, empty cathedrals
  • Catechism classes
  • Christian radio (this one took the most abuse, haha!)
But if you read through this list, you'll quickly find that each of these preferences is “trending” only in some Christian traditions. The things we dislike, or find bothersome, annoying, or uncomfortable, may be freeing, interesting, or equipping for someone else. 
Perhaps, for the person who came out of Catholicism, raising hands in worship is an expression of great freedom and intimacy with God.
Perhaps, for the person who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy from a Reformed Baptist background, the liturgy and glorious cathedrals is a draw to worship.
Perhaps, for the person who grew up afraid to evangelize, an emphasis on missions is an exciting way to help advance the gospel in the world.
The truth is this: none of us are unbiased. What we like and don't like about Christian culture is based on our own experiences of it, an experience which is limited in scope. We simply can't speak to every instance of God's gospel in every denomination, or in every church in the denomination we were in. We must learn to think theologically (which I take to mean, thinking critically by the Spirit) and hold our biases loosely, that we may unify around the core teachings of Christ and give grace for preferential things.
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I have my own preferences. I confessed last week that I don't prefer hyper sermons – pacing, yelling, whipping people into an emotional response. I also don't love Christian radio, but it seems I'm not alone there! (The worst confession was my lack of interest in Elisabeth Elliott; I was and am an Anne Ortlund fan). 
These are just my preferences based on a personal walk with God and a wildly diverse church experience (I've been in almost a dozen denominations). If I were to hold my preferences as law, stating that no one can experience the gospel through a “hype” preacher, or that Christian radio is always shallow, or that no one should read Elisabeth Elliott because she's graceless and rude – I would be wrong, because preferences are not law and experiences are not universal. 
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To think theologically about church and faith, we must hold the gospel tightly, the Christian life faithfully, and our preferences loosely. No matter what our experiences and dislikes, there's a chance that someone else has a different way of looking at things. They might have a very valid reason for doing what they do. We should approach such differences with curiosity first and condemnation last.
I might not be KJV only, but I should be curious about why some people are.
I might not like how Judah Smith preaches, but I could be curious about why he does it.
I might not enjoy modern worship music, but have I ever listened to an interview with an artist, to learn why he writes the way he does?
I might not like the idea of church membership, but have I ever asked a pastor what the biblical basis is for it?
Our dislikes and our likes should lead us to listening to, though perhaps not agreeing with, the other side(s). Self-awareness is a requirement for humility. I must acknowledge that I don't know all the ways God is working through His church, including through the styles and traditions I don't call my own. But I can trust that God IS working, and He IS using people, musicians, preachers, methodologies, translations, and traditions in ways I may never understand. 
As a wise person once told me: “Who am I to say God can't use them?”
*Join my Instagram stories today to discuss “what Christians don't like”!
What I'm Loving

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  • These wool gloves are perfect for cold hikes when the kids want access to their fingers. I also love these fleece leggings - warm enough my girls have actually rolled in the snow wearing them!
  • WorldWatch: My kiddos love this quick summary of the news. I love it because it's in short increments and gives us a glimpse of current events while keeping perspective: God is still on the throne!
  • Speaking of the news, I appreciate WORLD's Election Center as things start heating up in America. Scroll down for a break down of the delegates, states and numbers!
  • I loved this episode from At Home with the Beveres on creating a culture of prayer at home.
50% Off Ebooks Sale!

It's January, which means it's time for our annual ebook sale! During this sale all ebooks, studies, Quick Theologies and devotionals are 50% off in the ebook shop. TIPS:
  • Print your ebook at an office store and have it spiral or staple bound! This is a great option for international readers who don't want to pay shipping on a hard copy book. 
  • Want to read on Kindle? Email your PDF to your Kindle email address and it will show up within a few minutes!
  • Add to Apple iBooks so you can read on your phone!
  • Print the Bible studies at home (we offer Leviticus, Revelation, and 1-3 John) and three-hole-punch them for a binder! They lay open nicely and leave plenty of space for notes. 
What I'm Reading

I'm really leaning into 4-5 books a month so I may not have many new titles on my list each week, but I'll update you with what I'm thinking of them as I go. 
Confessions by Augustine
This is surprisingly readable and extremely relatable, which was a shock to me given it was written in the 400s and translated to English. I would recommend this for any Christian but I think it would be especially encouraging to parents of wayward children and to those in unequally yoked marriages: Augustine's mother (Saint Monica) was a believer, but his father was not, and Augustine himself did not come to Christ until later in life. This is a look at his inner life and experiences before and after coming to God.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
This was a new book to me, sent by my friend Chels (who is now 2 for 2; she also sent me Dracula, which I was OBSESSED with). This has a slow start but once it gets going, you're riveted. If you like a strong female protagonist who is still human (I can't stand fake, “perfect” female protagonists) you might enjoy this. Note: it's an older work so the author stereotypes women at points; I just overlook this. I love old literature and people were a product of their time. It takes place in the English countryside and is focused on farming (sheep, specifically).
Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
I tried this a few years ago and didn't enjoy it but this time around, I'm loving it. It's a unique approach - a fictional “memoir” - so if you read it understanding there is no secret, driving plot you'll like it a lot more. Won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Fun Habit by Mike Rucker
I'm not too far into this one but it's fascinating already. One thing that stood out to me was that dopamine, the pleasure hormone, is not connected to EXPERIENCING pleasure but to anticipating it. This means people enjoy thinking about what they'll do more than actually doing it, and will actually “check out” during wonderful, real life activities like hiking, eating dinner, or spending time with friends. He encourages us to fully engage with what's fun for us; a different take on being present. 
For work I'm reading:
  • Eusebius: The Church History
  • Olson: Arminian Theology
  • Pinson: 40 Questions About Arminianism
  • Cloud and Townsend: Making Small Groups Work
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for the awakening,