Cover Image: If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk

If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk

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This is a tricky one for me to review because I think I probably agree with John on most things, but I'd have a hard time recommending this book because the writing tends to go in circles and I think there are many other books I would recommend over this one: Anything written by Rachel Held Evans, Barbara Brown Taylor, Sarah Bessey, Pete Enns. Books written by LGBTQ+ Christians. I could go on and on.
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Expounds on the simple yet complicated truth of the title, very helpful exvangelical perspective that is straightforward yet nuanced.
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I now know that John Pavlovitz is well-known, but I didn't when I first started reading this book. More than that, I still don't know much about him other than what I can glean from his book. My nephew says he's a liberal, but I read lots of books by liberals. Pavlovitz's title is perfect; it is why I wanted to read the book.

Before I read anyone else's review, I wrote in my journal: "Pavlovitz does not shame people which would be counterproductive. To shame people would cause them to do things to get rid of the intensity of the shame (i.e. build up defenses). To understand one's guilt is one thing; to be shamed into changing rarely works. Are authors looking to punish or to transform? I'd say Pavlovitz is looking for genuine transformation." 

Then I read the 1-2 star reviews. Eek. Pavlovitz can bring content to the table, but, whoa, readers also bring their likes and dislikes to the table as well. I did not see any mudslinging in the book (or to keep to my metaphor, no food fight). I thought the tone was gracious, and I felt like the author was actively practicing not being a jerk (in his written word - I don't know him personally, and I've read neither his blog nor his social media pages). I didn't see him name calling...although I will agree with one reviewer about his calling out Republicans. It did seem like liberals were liberals, never Democrats while conservatives were Republicans, not simply conservatives. Having made that comment, if the readers continue to the end of the book, they will see that Pavlovitz has had to learn the challenging lesson that we are no better than the "other" side if we cruelly call them out for cruelty. 

Some reviewers made claims that Pavlovitz fully negates certain things such as prayer. I did not see that. He does discuss prayer, but I feel he excels at giving topics and thoughts to discuss in language that is accessible. I state it that way on purpose since a couple reviewers felt the book has "been done before". I agree with them; however, what Pavlovitz brings to the table is a less esoteric conversation. I'm currently reading McLaren's book 'Do I Stay Christian?'  and some chapters are lofty, not common vocabulary. The two authors might say some of the same things, but we readers need the different voices coming through. 

I am buying the book (it is already out for publication) even though I read this ARC courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley. Buying the book usually means a 5 star review from me, but as a nod to some of the more reasonable 3 star reviews, I will give this book 4 stars. I came to the table wanting to learn how to be more loving to Christ-followers with whom I disagree, and I gained some good ideas to practice. I also come to the table knowing that I don't have to eat every freaking dish laid out; I can bypass some dishes without leaving the table. I get that some readers felt every dish was poisoned; I didn't feel that way at all. (That's probably obvious now that you know I read McLaren who some Christians think is a heretic.)
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If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk is an earnest look at how compassion, support, and acceptance - the tenets professed by most religious beliefs can make us better people. Released 28th Sept 2021, it's 238 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

There are three things that struck me pretty quickly after beginning this read - first, the author John Pavlovitz (yes, the same guy who scrolls up FB feeds the world 'round) is honest and genuine, that he's intelligent, and he has a real gift for making concepts understandable.

I've been distressed and saddened by the increasing encroachment of evangelical Christianity on politics and the fusion of that group with right wing political factions in the USA (and to a lesser degree abroad). This is a rational, well thought out collection of 18 essays of contextual counter-philosophy on making a real effort to "not be a jerk" (as we ALL are, from time to time).

The author and editors have also included insightful discussion questions for individual or group study. He has also included succinct chapter notes with citations from the New Testament which are salient to the text. I found many of the discussion questions both simple and difficult (in a good way). There is a lot of humor here too and the author is quite adept at pointing out the inherent absurdity of our cosmic reality without ever once being preachy or mean.

Five stars. This is a great handbook for how to not be a jerk. It's slanted toward people in the Christian denominations, but is in no way exclusive. Everyone will find something to ponder. My only worry/regret is that the people who need it most (radical "evangelical Christian" nationalists) will ignore the important messages here in favor of meanness of spirit and unkindness .

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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Honestly, the title alone made me interested in reading this book. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? If God represents love, then, we as Christians, shouldn’t be a jerk. To anyone. Period. Regardless of our own views. As a Christian who is a liberal, you sometimes feel like you are not seen. To some people, you seem not “Christian enough” and to others, the word “Christian” in itself gives them a bad taste in their mouth. 

This book was a great read, but was not an easy read. It made me think and grapple with my own opinions and thoughts and those of people closest to me. I think this is an important book for Christians everywhere to read. Especially in a time of such discord. 

I received an ARC of” If God is Love, Don’t Be A Jerk” by John Pavlovitz from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I love the title of this book! I picked it up with anticipation, knowing nothing about the author.  Once I started reading, it didn't take long to know that this guy represents so much that is wrong with Christianity.  He's a proud and outspoken progressive Christian. You know, the group that calls themselves Christians then spends all their time telling you about how they reject Christianity.  I mean, seriously, Pavlovitz rejects so much of historic Christianity that I wonder if he really could be considered a Christian.

Besides slinging mud at theological principles, he spends even more time slinging mud at his fellow believers.  The main theme of the book is that he has grown in his progressive understanding, and now, if you don't believe the same things as him about the death penalty, abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage, etc., you clearly have not grown at all and are stuck in backwards, entrenched, unChristian viewpoints.  In other words, you're a jerk.

I'll tell you who's a jerk.  It's the guy who calls faithful Christians who disagree with him racists, prejudiced, territorial, hypocritical, cruel, lacking compassion.  He has no room for anyone who holds conservative political views, no matter how based in Christian faith they might be, and he certainly has no room for anyone who supported or even cast a vote for Donald Trump.

I'll give him this: he can be engaging and entertaining.  But his writing is poison.  My heart breaks for the American church.  I have seen too many Christians buy into this type of progressive rejection of evangelicalism.  It's true, in many cases it's a failure of good discipleship.  But mostly it's the embrace of the lies of the world.  God help us.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy.
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This book is a much needed call to completely recalibrate how we see God, and faith in general. As someon who has to announce that they are 'not a bigoted awful christian,' way more often that I'd like, this calls for us to be... less jerkish, more loving. Recommended.
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I am constantly reminding myself that I need to reflect God in my actions. Pavlovitz looks at many contemporary and divisive topics through the eyes of God's love. The process has been made complicated with humanity's misunderstanding, but it really isn't. This book helps keep a healthy perspective on what God looks like in today's world.
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Not my favorite book ever, as the content has been something I've seen before. But it's a book that gives food for thought if this a new topic for you.
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The title alone preaches a message so many of us need to hear today. The author is honest and funny in his approach. His words cut in all the right ways, and his message will sit with readers long after they finish the book.
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I consider myself spiritual rather than religious, although I was raised in the Congregational Church. This book resonated with me on so many levels. I stopped calling myself Christian because I did not want to be associated with what many in the US consider Christianity to be . The author’s very thoughtful assessment of mega churches, politics, etc . along with his self deprecating humor made this book easy to read and a challenge to be a better human whatever religion (or none) calls to you.
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Kindness is something that has been missing in the world for a while, especially in the christian church.  This is not your typical "christian" book, and that's a good thing.  If more people who called themselves christians would not only read, but follow the principles found in this book, maybe more people would want to know Jesus.  I will definitely be purchasing several copies to gift to people

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review
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I struggled in reading this book, I went into this book blind. Not knowing about John Pavlovitz background in christianity or otherwise. As a newer believer I do not agree with this book and it's standing that all Christianity should die. As a whole I do feel the concept of not being a jerk to others does need to exist. God Is LOVE and we need to show Love to others. Although, within the writing of this book I felt John to be a jerk judging others and indeed putting his own personal beliefs as a force on others. I do not believe all Christians should read this book. It is important with any text published in reference to The Holy Bible. It is important to compare that and pray with God in respect to said text to better understand the alignment. However, to say that there is no hell and we should't be praying is not something I can stand behind. Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC ebook copy of this book. This review is my individual opinion and my honest review.
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I love John Pavlovitz.  Full disclosure, I have followed his blog for a number of years.  Part of what I love about him is his real approach and outlook on the world around him.  This is a great book for anyone struggling with the Western Idea of "Church", of what it looks like to love like Jesus, and anyone that needs a little guidance.

Yes, this is a book aimed primarily at Christians.  Yes, the author is oft critical of one political party.  Yes, he admits that even he can fall for being a "jerk".  

This book is a good reminder of the basic tenet of loving your neighbor.  and as hard as it may be, even when we think we are in the right.  Don't be a jerk.

So much easier said than done.
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Reading any book by John Pavlovitz is an interesting adventure. I can guarantee my faith and thinking will be stretched, and I’ll face a decision about whether or not my actions will change. This book is no exception. 
Basically, faith shouldn’t make us act like a jerk. 
Topics covered in this book include love, life, hell, eternity, church, neighbors, and politics. In each chapter, John challenges readers to test their actions and determine if we’re acting in love. 
I appreciated the discussion guide at the end. Unfortunately, a variety of long sentences complicated the book. Also, the author preaches against conservatives and Republicans throughout and uses “us/them” language that is quite jerk-like. 
Some of my favorite takeaways: 
We have one job: LOVE. Leave people more loved than we found them. 
Am I a jerk? Look at my life and reverse engineer my beliefs. What would people see about my love? 
Religion isn’t what you believe but how you treat people. It’s the fruit of life. The way I treat people is the only meaningful expression of your belief system. 
God is nonbinary, and we can discover the character of God in every human being we encounter - without exception. 
No one embraces the entire truth about God. He is too big for that. Instead, God as the sum total of eight billion extraordinary fragments stitched together. Let’s collaborate as we gain a more accurate picture of God.
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I have been reading columns from John Pavlovitz for well over a year now, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I did not hesitate.

For those of us who try to live our lives by faith, this book will be a real eye-opener. The first commandment is "God is Love," the second commandment is "Love Your Neighbor."  The essence of the book is "Thou Shalt Not Be Horrible." 

As we  have lived through the past several years and watched the disintegration of society as we have know it, and being beaten over the heads of those who choose not to believe in a certain way by those who call themselves Christians, this book is a true eye-opening experience.

Recommending this to many, many people.
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If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk is a thought provoking nonfiction book by John Pavlovitz.  I have followed Mr. Pavlovitz on Facebook for a while, and love his writing about faith -- that sparked my interested in this book.  This is a beautifully written book that inspires kindness and living faith in a thoughtful manner.  I recommend it highly for anyone interested in living a kinder, more conscious faith life.  (This book would also be  great for a book group or Bible study group.)
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This book is such a godsend. It is truly well written. The author puts into words what I have been unable to force myself to articulate about how some evangelical churches do not espouse love.
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This is an amazing book that challenges the way so many Christians have behaved during the pandemic. I highly recommend it whatever side of this fence you are on as it will challenge you and at times encourage you not to give up.
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This book was really hard to keep my momentum. It’s a serious topic but the book was too informal for me. It’s form and approach is very useful for a very specific audience of readers who are teetering on leaving the evangelical church or at least reforming it. For me, I’ve done a lot of theological reading and this thesis about not being a jerk and some of the problems with the evangelical church we’re very elementary and repetitive. After about 2-3 chapters I felt like I got the gist and it was difficult to keep picking this book up. There are many better books on reinventing or evolving your faith out there and I unfortunately wouldn’t recommend this one to someone starting that journey.
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