God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today


Book: God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today

Author: Stephen McCarthy

Publisher: Christian Alternative, 2022

ISBN-13: 978-1789049435

ISBN-10: 1789049431

Website(s): http://www.christian-alternative.com (publisher)

Language level:  5

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Adults

Rating: *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Religion

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     McCarthy, Stephen. God, Who on Earth Are You?: Mystery and Meaning in Christianity Today (Published in 2022 by Christian Alternative Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd., No. 3 East St., Airdsford, Hampshire, 5O24 9EE  UK).  For some reason or another which I do not fully understand (it may be due in part to the fact that my book reviews are promoted as coming from a Biblical worldview), I have recently been asked to review several books that are strictly religious, even theological, in nature.  God, Who on Earth Are You? was written by “a deeply Catholic, physics-trained economist” to present “a version of the Christian faith which reflects his vigorously progressive Catholicism.”  I am not a Catholic, so I wondered if the book had anything for me.  Then the author wrote, “I consider Churches that interpret the Bible literally and uncritically to have left the mainstream of the Christian tradition: they should be understood to be excluded from general references, as I cannot speak for them.”  Since I would be identified with a religious body that fits this description, I wondered if I should even bother reading the book.  But I did.

     The basic theme of the book is explained by this sentence.  “The Catholic Church, as with all the Christian denominations to a greater or lesser extent, needs to transition to a new identity, a new way of being ‘Church’” (cf. Jeremiah 6:16—“Ask for the old paths, where the good way is”).  The author tells how this should be done, and it is by moving the church “away from its obsession with individual morality—for example, over sexual mores—to the more pressing issues of social injustice and existential threats in the world: poverty, slavery, exploitation and persecution, huge inequalities in wealth across the world and within societies, the continued existence of nuclear weapons, and the destruction of the fragile resources of our Sister Earth—God’s beloved Creation.”  Those who agree with this “progressive” (i.e. leftist) agenda will like the book, while those who have a more conservative view of Scripture will probably not like it.  But I think that one would find many “evangelical” Christians at the forefront in dealing with such threats as poverty, slavery, sexual exploitation, and religious persecution.

     Certainly, God’s truth on any subject, issue, or problem, should be preached by His church, and those who identify as Christians should strive to do what God’s word says about it.  But that is a far cry from moving “the church” away from its Scriptural teaching and work, including on individual morality, to becoming just another institution focused on social, political, economic, and environmental questions.  Jesus said that He came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)—not to strive for social justice, promote any political ideology, achieve economic equality, or protect the environment.  While there is much in this book with which I disagree, there are some observations and suggestions that I do think are worthy of our consideration, so it was not a total waste.  By the way, to explain the language rating, the author quotes another writer who talks about “bull*hit jobs.”    

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