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

If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk

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Member Reviews

I started with - when Jesus comes back, he asks..."You had one job: love.  So, what happened?"
what would my response be, how have I followed the greatest commandment
These times this world is hungry for love.  
Theologically we don't need to match to be more compassionate.

Those of us who struggle should reflect on- those who were w/ Jesus, close enough to touch Him -had disbelief
Stay teachable and you'll be able to stay loving

I am still getting my thoughts together on this book
There is a lot to think about - even on the points that I do not agree w/ author on.
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With blogger, author, and pastor Pavlovitz (Hope and Other Superpowers), what you see is what you get. Fans of his Twitter account or his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said know that he’s a progressive plain talker in his writing, religion, and politics; his latest book is no exception. Pavlovitz identifies dangerous and destructive paths that the United States has taken, particularly in the early 21st century, as the result of the union of the MAGA movement and Evangelical Christianity. Pavlovitz was raised Catholic and now identifies as a Unitarian Universalist, and he points out that by some right-wing standards, neither he nor Jesus is a Christian. With candor, the former megachurch pastor states that we can all do better; he powerfully advocates for a more equitable and loving society and emphasizes that Christians shouldn’t oversimplify or cherry-pick from Scripture in order to justify beliefs. Pavlovitz decries mistreatment of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and other marginalized groups, while exploring the purpose of prayer and the value of anger. The basic tenet of his personal and professional philosophy is “Thou shalt not be horrible.”VERDICT Complete with a discussion guide, this is a sobering yet inspiring discourse for open-minded, thoughtful readers.
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I could write a book about why I don't agree with this book, but unfortunately I don't have enough time or space to do that.  I was disappointed, because I actually think there are many times when every Christian (including me) acts like a jerk, and needs to be reminded that the great commandment, the one that sums up all the others is: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  However, this author takes a simplistic approach, seeming to believe that there are only two kinds of Christians:  those who "love" others by accepting just about any sort of behavior, and those who prefer to "judge" others and consign them to Hell.  All of those law-oriented, judgmental Christians also voted for Donald Trump, are racist (even if they don't realize it), dislike immigrants, idolize the United States and believe that God is an old, white man.

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I don't fit into either of Pavlovitz's categories.  As a conservative Lutheran, I have always been told that good teaching must include both law and gospel.  The law shows us we are all sinners, and the gospel gives us the good news that we can be forgiven.  God is loving, but He is also just.  It's not an either-or situation, but a balance-- and yes, there are individual Christians and denominations that err on one side or the other.

I believe that the Mr. Pavlovitz has sincerely wrestled with faith questions, and since he states that no proof texts will change his mind, I'm puzzled about how to counter his claims.  He does not accept the Bible is the foundation or final authority, but relies on his personal experience of God.  Yet, he himself uses the Bible as the starting point for his assertion that we are to love one another.  Isn't this a contradiction?  As we are made in God's image, the author believes we are basically good.  Yet, if we go by experience, my experience is that my default setting is sin, not holiness.  In fact, if we are basically good, why do we need to be told not to be jerks?

Another issue I have with this book is the use of profanity.  Pavlovitz actually notes and defends such language as being more "authentic" and a way of removing the "mask" most of us wear.  I believe that being courteous and avoiding offensive words is part of being loving and setting a good example for others.

The Lutheran Ladies Connection blog received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.
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This book covers a lot of specific examples of ways that areas in which Christians can re-examine their biases and the fallacies of clinging tightly to religious traditions. As a Christian who has an on-again, off-again relationship with formal religion, I appreciated the way Pavlovitz addresses many instances in which religious teachings and actions of those who loudly proclaim their devoutness run contrary to the Jesus' essential teachings. Although I liked that different examples were given, reading them sometimes felt repetitive and I would much rather have listened to them in a sermon than read them in a book.
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I really loved this book. I've been thinking about my feedback for a few days, because I don't want my personal Christian beliefs, especially where I disagree with the author, to negatively impact my review. The book is very well written. The author is a well-known (in liberal, Christian circles, anyway) pastor who truly believes we need to treat all humans as Jesus would if He were still here in physical form. Each chapter covers a different topic (race, religion, gender, etc.) and offers Scripture references (in footnotes) to support the author's beliefs. I think one mark of an excellent book in this genre is that it changes the reader's behavior, or makes the reader think about something differently. I came to the realization that despite my faith, I definitely acted like a jerk to someone a couple of years ago and need to ask forgiveness from that person. I think anyone who wants to be more like Jesus, or who thinks Christians are judgmental, arrogant, hateful people should read this book to see how we're supposed to act.
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This book was my first introduction to John Pavlovitz, and l am beyond impressed. By the time I read the second chapter I was already researching who he was and following him on social media. Not only did John's words resonate with my own beliefs, I was challenged with how I live it out as well. 

In this day and age, being a progressive Christian should be something that is more widely known and accepted. Especially if we claim to grasp Jesus' two commandments "1) Love God and 2) Love others" (Mark 12:29-31 MSG). Yet, unfortunately, that is not what is being done, which this past year (2020) has made abundantly clear. Instead of a year of turmoil, racism, death, and isolation bringing out the compassion of those following Christ we were shown more hate, violence, and segregation. People are literally being thrown out on the streets, beaten, and killed just for being different. Although aren't we all supposed to be brothers and sisters? John's book not only makes one question how the world is today, but he compares it to how it was during the biblical times. The parallels he points out are uncanny. 

I personally believe that all people no matter their race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or any way a person identifies themselves should be shown respect, equality, and ultimately love. None the less, I also value others opinions and understand we may not agree. Does that mean you should not read this book? That's up to you, but let me ask you this... do you believe "God is love"? Then, read this book and "Don't be a Jerk".
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If God is Love, Don't Be a Jerk is a book on faith unlike any I've read before; Reading this book was enjoyable, not painful as some I've attempted to read. It's like curling up with the only person you can trust to express your honest feelings and thoughts regarding God and your faith. Stripped bare the essence of this book is "Thou Shall Not Be Horrible" a phrase that I have thought to myself often when encountering certain types of Christians. 

This book isn't stuffy or scary, nor does it make false promises. One thing that is made very clear from the very first page is this will NOT be quick and easy so if you're looking for something you can just change instantly move right along and keep searching for what does not exist. Ideally you'll read this book instead and realize that while it may not be easy or quick it is the most inspirational relevant and desperately needed call to transformation. 

John Pavlovitz writes with soul and it shines though every section of this book. Pavlovitz is humble, honest, and knows the meaning of humility; He bares his uncomfortable and frightening experience of the evolution of his Faith and leaves no room for mistaking his message. With simple sounding prose that flows naturally you'll find yourself nodding "mmhmming" and turning the page after page with no sense of time passing because you needed this book even if you didn't know it. 

Before I even finished the book I was recommending it to my family and every friend I was in touch with and they are all excited at the idea of what this book can do for them, for their relationship with God and with themselves and their community. I am confident that they won't be disappointed and neither will you.

Do not ignore the call of this book. Make the time to give it a try and let your soul soar as you're led to a place in your Faith that you've been longing for (likely for quite some time)

Thank you so much to Netgalley and to John Pavlovitz for letting me preview an advance e-copy in exchange for my review. I am a much better person for the opportunity and I am beyond thrilled to have this blessing to pass on to every individual I can.
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