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If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk

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If God is love, Don't be a jerk
by John Pavlovitz 
Publish date: Sept. 28, 2021 

In If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk, John Pavlovitz examines the bedrock ideas of our religion: the existence of hell, the utility of prayer, the way we treat LGBTQ people, the value of anger, and other doctrines to help all of us take a good, honest look at how the beliefs we hold can shape our relationships with God and our fellow humans--and to make sure that love has the last, loudest word. 

I am new to the writing of John Pavlovitz. I am now a fan.  This book caused me to think about my way of life and how i treat others. 
Great book! 
5 star
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I was immediately drawn to this John Pavlovitz book by its title – If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk. For much of the last several years, I’ve faced the reality that so many of my fellow brothers and sisters in faith – and certainly me at times – have given Christianity a bad name.

When I mention that I’m a member of a church or a Christian, I receive looks of disgust, disdain, or disappointment. Why? Because the word “evangelical” has become synonymous with “jerk” at best and “monster” at worst in this country and many others around the world.

Even before I got through the introduction of If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk, I knew I’d love it – and knew it would be a productive read for myself and others like me who want to demonstrate our faith in a loving, compassionate way – but also for those who’re less prone to reading this book. (The humor of the opening illustration didn’t hurt for drawing in this rock ‘n roll gal’s heart, either.)

I’ll be honest – I’m still reading the book. I’m taking my time, going page by page in the midst of my new seminary classes as I read theology and doctrine, Church history, and more. Intermingling the reading of this book with my reading for seminary has been a boon to the integration of old and new thoughts from my formerly more legalistic and Calvinistic days.

The book is not a theology book in the traditional sense. It isn’t founded on the fathers of the ages. It isn’t written to be used in classroom settings. Instead, it’s a practical read that has illustrations and poignant stories and moments that help the reader see even more of the value of, well, not being a jerk in the name of Jesus.

So, if you’re looking for a book that will challenge some of your thinking, ask you questions you didn’t realize you needed to ask yourself, or just need to commiserate with someone else who agrees that God is love and not an angry old white dude with a blazing staff of lightning ready to strike down your enemies for you, this book could well be what you’re looking for. It certainly was for me.
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This book is great for progressive Christians who are tired of watching their religion being turned into something it was never intended to be. I don’t think it will move anyone on the “other side” to change their ways, but I appreciated the book and its message.
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I was intrigued by the title of John Pavlovitz’s book, If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk. A book about love sounded innocent enough. Many Christian living books want to make us feel better about ourselves. Not this one, rather this book’s message may leave you feeling worse about yourself. 
Most of don’t want to be “jerks”, we want to be “better humans.” John challenges us to examine our assumptions about God, Jesus, church, and love- especially love for those who look, think, believe, and behave differently from us. In his view, most of us in the evangelical, conservative Christian world act like jerks. 
John spares no group or dogma; he calls out racism, homophobia, misogyny, nationalism, and Trumpism. He names the “greatest sin of the American evangelical church”-parochial self-centered existence. 
John deplores self-righteousness while sounding self-righteous himself at times. He admits he is angry but seems to believe it is a righteous anger on behalf of those who are marginalized, oppressed, and discriminated against.
John shares his own rocky faith journey which led him away from traditional mainstream Christianity into a belief system that interprets the Bible more liberally and emphasizes strong commitment to social justice issues.   
Initially I was irked by his attitude but eventually came to recognize his anguish over what he sees as the failings of the Church and individual Christians-lack of genuine love. The book’s tone changes as he concludes by pleading with us to be more tender hearted, empathetic, merciful-in other words more like Jesus.
I wished he had said more of this at the beginning, as some of his earlier chapters were strong enough in their rebuke to turn away the very people who most need to read them. But if readers are willing to stick with him, and hear his heart as well as his head, it might cause a revolution in the Church as well as the nation and the world.
John Pavlovitz’s words may not change your mind but may just move your heart if you are open and willing.
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Of course, the title of John Pavlovitz’s book tells you the story: "If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith That Makes Us a Better Human." You might be tempted to believe that you’ve gotten the gist and skip this book. Don’t. It’s the perfect guide for our times.

The truth is that there is so much toxic faith out there — what was once called “a bad witness” — that, increasingly, young people are turning their backs on religion altogether. White Evangelical leaders are reassuring themselves that, as has been historically true, their own children, after falling away in their early 20s, will return once they marry and have kids. But that is no longer happening for any Protestant denomination, Evangelicals included. Only 45% of Millennial parents (ages 24 to 39) say they take their kids to church. In addition, only 23% of young Millennials say they turn to religion to guide them on right and wrong.

But what if the religious weren’t trying to shame and blame, to “shrink the table” (the subject of Pavlovitz’s classic "A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community")? What if we sided with the oppressed? With the poor? With the ill? You know, like Jesus did? How would that change the Church? And the world? Pavlovitz doesn’t pretend to have all of the answers, but he has enough answers to make me so glad that I read this sequel to "A Bigger Table." Highly recommended.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press in exchange for an honest review.
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I’ve been a fan of John Pavlovitz on social media for a while now, so I was pretty excited to see he’d written a book.  Pavlovitz is a progressive Christian pastor who isn’t afraid to go against the grain and call out evangelical hypocrisy on the religious right.

Pavlovitz tackles topics like race, gender, and religion with his signature candor and compassion.  He exhorts us to be more Christ-like, kind, and intentional in our spiritual lives.  Reading this book requires open-mindedness and a willingness to be uncomfortable with ourselves, but that’s a good thing.  Examining our viewpoints and considering different perspectives can lead to change and growth, and this book certainly inspires the reader to do so.

I would recommend this book to anyone, Christian or otherwise.  Yes, it’s religiously based, but it’s overwhelmingly human too.  I’m likely not the traditional target market for this book; I was raised Catholic, but have let my faith life lapse somewhat, turned off from church by many of the same things Pavlovitz discusses about those who call themselves Christian but act in ways that couldn’t be further from Jesus’s teachings.  Reading this book was enlightening and affirming, encouraging the reader to view Christianity and love through a different lens.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Westminster John Knox Press for providing me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is being published at the perfect time.  So many people claiming to be "Christian" and "loving" but who don't realize they are actually behaving in a way that is not Christian and loving. "Thou shalt not be horrible" is really all that you need to know.. This book will lead to much introspection, as well as confusion as you wonder why it's difficult for so many to love those who are not just like them.  A great read for those who are spiritual, or not.
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This book was received as an ARC from Westminster John Knox Press in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This book was very interesting and informative with an interesting point of view. We get so caught up in all of the issues rather its social or political and forget our true purpose in life and this book really brought me back to the level that I should be. The approach John Pavlovitz took with this book was at first confusing but as I read on, I began to understand his reasoning and appreciated the direction he took with this book. We hear so much on the news and social media about every single issue there is that it puts us in a bitter, angry mood and we can't help but adapt to the surroundings but the good news is , we never had to. It is so difficult to remain positive when everyone around you is negative and this book really opened that perspective.

We will consider adding this title to our Non-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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OK this book took me forever to finish reading but only because there is just so much to digest. The whole basic premise of the book is just to be kind. As Christians we are supposed to be like Jesus love like Jesus and most Christians do not follow that. For people like me who are searching for faith in a church where they don’t really belong anymore there’s always extremely eye opening. It really helped me see what I can still call myself a Christian without being like “those Christians.” 

It really helped me examine my face and look more closely at the type of person I want to be and I know in order to be more like Jesus we need to love and be kind like Jesus. A definite must read for anyone who calls himself a Christian or a follower of Christ.
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I began following John Pavlovitz on Twitter this year and jumped at the chance to read his book. As someone who grew up in the church, his ideas speak to me and he grabbed me right off with the first chapter - You Had One Job!  

That’s exactly what I’ve advocated for a decade and not seen in today’s religious establishment - especially in the politics of the last five years. Our job as given by Jesus is to lead with love. When we balance truth vs. love, we should always tip the scale towards love. 

The author does a great job sharing how we often put God in a box and presume to speak for him. But God is way too big for our box of understanding. We are constantly learning, growing, and changing as life happens, and there are many like us who are trying to reconcile our experiences and what we see around us with the God they learned about in Sunday School. It is helpful to me to challenge the assumptions I’ve made over the years and look through a fresh lens, while always leading with love. As for the politics he advocates, I couldn’t agree more!  

In the end, I am glad I read this book. I felt very alone in my spiritual wandering as a believer who doesn’t seem to fit in. However, I’m not sure I got much more than a feeling of community from it. There wasn’t a great epiphany that will help me change or find a new place going forward. I agree with most of the book’s content, and recommend it for those who, like me, have been put off by the church establishment over the past decade. I just wish there had been more help for what to do next.

Thank you to Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The theme of the author's message is summed up nicely a little more than a quarter of the way through the book,. Having covered a lot of religious ground in a half-century first as a Catholic altar boy in his youth, through various iterations of rebellion, agnosticism. even atheism as a teen and young adult,  before finally rebounding as a seminarian then pastor, the author anchors himself in a religious faith based in love, however humanly imperfect. True faith rooted in love cannot be reconciled with versions of religion that permit or even courage the "faithful" to act like righteous jerks. 

I tend to shun books about religion, and I tip-toed carefully into this one. Fortunately the author's religious perspective makes room for skeptics and doubters and in doing so opens us up to the possibility of a faith is not toxic and doesn't suffocate. High recommended.
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Wow! This book is either a huge breath of fresh air or a bucket of cold water in the face depending on the reader’s perspective. I was drawn to the book from its title but I quickly encountered the first political reference and I almost stopped reading. The last place I wanted to hear about politics is in a religious book, but I kept reading because the writing is witty and extremely engaging and the content was ringing true for me. I later understood the need for including current social/political issues. “If God is Love, Don’t be a Jerk” calls Christians to take a serious look in the mirror and challenges them to grow beyond the typical establishment-thinking and instead lead lives with love as God’s marching orders. Being inclusive and loving to others, as Jesus did and God does, meets the intention of how Christians are called to live. Many of today’s top social topics are used to make the points, noting the distinction between America’s political parties. Liberals will likely shout “Hallelujah” for this book, while conservatives who are interested to take a serious look in the mirror and who are willing to consider a different viewpoint might find this book to be truly life-changing. The discussion points for each chapter lend themselves to group discussion or further self-reflection.
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I so wanted to be inspired by this book, and, in some ways, I was. None of us loves enough. We all fall so far short of what God wants from us. But Pavlovitz goes off the rails and way past any encouragement for us to really dig into God and live the way He wants us to. The good reverend has strayed away from the faith of the Bible and into something that is only tangentially related to it. As he says, it is probably closer to Universalism, and that isn’t good.

I didn’t expect to read a book about loving more like God and having to worry about language issues, but there were a few here. I so wanted to be inspired and moved to live a more loving, Christ-filled life, and all I got was saddened that a pastor was taking our shortcomings and using them to morph the understanding of God into something that isn’t in agreement with the Holy Scriptures.

It is well-written, but read it with your eyes wide open.
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I am still reading this book, little by little. It was of particular interest to me given the events of the past couple years and reactions of people from all walks of life to them. There is a lot I agree with here, about how we as Christians could do better. I do not agree with everything the author has written, but there is a lot here to be used for examining our hearts to see if we are displaying the love of God to people, as we have been commanded to. There has been a lot of disagreement and division. It has been heartbreaking to me, not that we disagree on some things, but in the delivery of our disagreements. As Christians, i do agree we all could do better in loving even those we disagree with, as Jesus has loved us. I believe that has to come before politics, opinions, doctrines, etc... I hope some who may not agree with this book will read it and use it for examining their hearts as well.
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I really tried with this book, but It frustrated me too much to actually read more than a page or two at a time. 

The author claims to be a christian, but removes Jesus from the equation.

I have detailed notes for the portion of the book that I was able to get through, but won't waste my time finishing it. 

Chap 1
Pg 13
"These days... God is different". 
God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Perhaps he meant to say, these days people experience God differently? 

"This is where the journey to a more loving religion begins". No religion is loving or not loving. It is the people who love (or don't). What people should be searching for is a more intimate relationship with God (by praying and reading His word). And they should be striving to pass on His love to those around them.

Pg 15
Tiffany should turn to.... wait for it...God!  Religion is not God. Nothing (no religion, mantra, communing with nature) is a substitute for God. Certain things make you feel closer to Him, but do not replace or encompass Him.

"If we're going to find a bigger God..."  Either you know the one true God (creator of the universe) or you don't. 

Pg 16
I completely agree with point number 2.

Pg 18
"Our initial faith traditions are all valid and meaningful". Although they may all be meaningful, they most certainly are NOT all valid. How can a Christian pastor state that Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions are valid?!

"Jesus wasn't asking people to register for a religion,  but inviting them into a way of being". Exactly! 

Pg 21-22
God is everywhere. You can feel His presence in all of those non-church ways mentioned. But by not going to church, you miss out on the community of people who believe in the same general worldview as you. And just because you "have a religious experience" or "feel God" in some place or act, does not mean that you have a relationship with Him or that you will go to heaven when you die. Only a relationship with Jesus does that.
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I really liked this book, “If God is Love Don’t be a Jerk.”  Regardless of your religious beliefs, this is a good book to inspire self-introspection.  Stick with it – it’s worth it.  Thought provoking…

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Westminister John Knox Press, for an Advance Reader Copy of this book.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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"What if we were fully burdened to create a world that was more loving and equitable than when we arrived?"

The title alone.... Are we jerks? Do we judge others? Do we help those that are "walking wounded"?

Why are we less than a compassionate group of human beings? Starting this book, I was taken back to my upbringing as a christian, maybe I shouldn't read this. Do I allow myself to succumb to something I don't want to see is there? Quickly realizing, John Pavlovitz has risked his reputation to relinquish his understanding of the religious tradition. Sometimes humorously he points out What Would Jesus Do. Would he look at us and say "You had one job" and that was to love one another? Did you make comparisons with others and choose to love them by their socioeconomic level, political affiliation, religious background, and color? 

Some of his views may have people looking the other way instead of judging one's self..."Can't claim 'All Lives Matter' while protecting only those who share your pigmentation." "Life inside the womb is precious, so is the life outside of America".  A humorous side was an analogy of the bumper sticker "How is my driving?" Do we really want to know? Not our automobile abilities, but our life. "Maybe we should ask someone how our driving is...would we listen?"

I think we could all be better humans, more compassionate and lose our less-than-loving ways towards others that don't fit into the realm of our "coffee shops". If he sounds angry in the book, he is. He devoted a whole chapter to his personification of his anger. 

..I needed to see my own self-delusion and failure to recognize some people may never receive love, if we never give it. This was a quick read, but one I will not forget. It is not preachy for some of you who are worried about that. It is a view of America and how we have quickly descended into something our nation may never recover from. This may not be for the faint of heart that WE have dropped the human ball on a generation of delusional parents on social media instead of heeding to the love and compassion to their offspring. Call it what you want Gen Z kids or "sharenting" are the stars of their parents’ social media. You have 18 years to get it right with that child and teach them to love. I may be an outlier on my opinion, but this book had me on an anomaly of my usual book reviews. 

"Love is the greatest force in the Universe." Rev. Dr. ML King

Thank you NetGalley & Westminster John Knox Press for this ARC for my honest opinion.
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I first heard of John Pavlovitz sometime in 2016 when someone recommended him to me as “another pastor speaking out against the evangelical obsession with Trump.” I clicked the like button Facebook and followed him for a bit. And basically, if you’ve followed him on social media, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of the tone, structure, and content of If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk.

I have two primary criticisms of the book. First, it’s not really substantive. That’s not to say that Pavlovitz doesn’t engage with deep issues. He does. All the hot-button issues of sexuality, gender identity, abortion, politics, eternal judgment, and more get Pavlovitz’s signature treatment. But it’s all done at a superficial level. The exact same thing he does on Facebook, he does here. You can excuse it on social media for being social media, but the context of publication in book format deserves more depth and nuance. 

Pavlovitz is ostensibly writing to his “opposition” on the Christian right, telling them hey, If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk. But there’s nowhere in this book where Pavlovitz tries to understand evangelicals. There’s nowhere that he even tries exegeting Scripture or providing solid argumentation for interpretational differences. He just states it blunt “Nope. You’re wrong about the Bible and silly for holding that interpretation.” To be quite honest, Pavlovitz sometimes comes across like a jerk.

Second, he uses language and terminology meant to evoke feeling rather than precision. When I read this book, I shared a quote from it in a fairly progressive pastor’s group that I’m involved with without any of my thoughts so as not to influence first thoughts and it received a fair amount of pushback. Here’s the quote: “God is decidedly nonbinary and that is really good news, because it means that we can discover the character of that God in every human being we encounter without exception.” On the surface, that might resonate with some believers. But there’s a difference between being nonbinary and transcending gender. God isn’t part of the binary because he’s the image of the full spectrum of humanity. It’s an emotionally evocative sentence, but in the end it exploits nonbinary people for the purpose of making an edgy and ultimately not very meaningful statement.

A third more minor point that I might bring up is that Pavlovitz presents himself as an insider critiquing Christianity, particularly evangelicalism. However, it’s important to note that Pavlovitz has stepped outside orthodox belief and currently practices Unitarian Universalism. UU is a unity faith that incorporates elements of most major religions and sees them all as being equally valid. Thus, Pavlovitz has moved outside of the orthodox bounds of faith and his criticisms then, are as an outsider rather than an insider. 

In the end, if you’re a fan of Pavlovitz’s writings on social media. This is more of the same repackaged and edited into book form. If you’re looking for something a bit more nuanced or substantial, you’ll find yourself unfortunately disappointed.
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If God is love, don’t be a jerk John Pavlovitz, Westminster John Knox Press
As I read this book, I imagined a conversation between the author and Rob Bell, the author of Love Wins.
Rob, I read your book and it really got me thinking. I was thinking I could write about the same topics, but I would make it clearer.
Rob responds, “My book isn’t clear?”
John, “Not really, you dance around the topics of hell and salvation but when I finished reading, I wasn’t sure where you stood. Do you believe everybody goes to heaven or are you just questioning whether a God of love and a place of eternal judgment are compatible?”
Rob challenges him, “If you think you can do a better job, then have at it.”
John takes up the challenge and this book is the result. ( My imagination)
There is no hell. We are all good people. Most evangelicals are white republicans, and they don’t give a damn about anybody else. Also, the Bible would have been written differently if there were some women on the editorial board.
Now, in case you get the impression that I didn’t get anything out of the book. That is not accurate.
I think every Christian should read the first chapter, “You had one job”. (Spoiler alert) We are to love God and love others. That preaches. 
As the author states at Kindle location 35 “…I often envision an exasperated Jesus coming back, and the first words out of his mouth to his followers as his feet hit the pavement being, ‘You had one job: Love. So, what happened’.” I wonder the same thing.
I also wonder if lack of love was the impetus for the rest of the book. In other words, would the writer have fled orthodoxy if we all loved our neighbors as commanded?
In calling us to love the author has given away too much ground, even questioning the authority of the very Scripture that gives the command to love.
I agree that many of the messages that are preached and many that I have heard have not oozed love. I have heard it said that Jesus taught more about hell than heaven so we should preach more about hell than heaven. Just simple math. I would counter that with some other statistics—Jesus says more about finances than he does about hell so let’s hear more about our finances and stewardship thereof. 
But the solution is not to do away with hell. 
I agree with the author’s point that much that is heard from evangelicals demeans or, in some way, does not appreciate the gifts God has given women. However, suggesting this is because the Bible was written by men questions the inspiration of Scripture.
Didn’t God oversee the writing? 
The author in another chapter makes a big deal that God is not male and at the same time writes of God’s feminine qualities. So, getting back to the point about the Bible authors foisting their male gender on the words of the Bible it occurred to me that, as the author states, the Hebrew word “ruach” (spirit) is feminine. That being the case can’t we say the feminine was represented on the Bible’s editorial board. If the Spirit didn’t like what was being written, if it were too male, the Spirit of God could have it removed.
Besides the issue just raised Mr. Pavlovitz doesn’t clearly state that the Bible is not superintended or inspired by God but he does take a few digs at the authority of the Bible for today. For example, when speaking of Genesis 1-2 he questions whether this 4000 year old poem is clear enough for us today. If we throw out Gen 1-2 because the chapters are a poem, what can we get from the Psalms that Jesus quoted with authority?
Two other things had me scratching my head, and he may just be exaggerating to make a point, but…. he states that “81% of white evangelicals ended up passionately embracing both him (Donald Trump) and that message (Make America Great Again). As far as I know there no survey has measured the passion or the real reason so many evangelicals supported Trump.
He also writes that the expression, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” was an invention of the Religious Right (location 1072), When did Augustine join the religious right?  It appears he was one of the first to say something like that and I heard the expression long before Mr. Pavlovitz was born. 
It seemed to me that the author less than humble in claiming he has heard all the arguments against what he has to say and don’t bother me with your concerns. However, when I got to Chapter 17 High Horses and Better Angels the author is clear that we need to hold our opinions without a sense of moral superiority. (Kindle location 2205). That reminds me of a quote from Anne Lamott (I think) “Our opinions may not be right, but we think they are, or we would change them.”
As I read the book I kept asking if the message of the Bible, the good news, spoken in love, and not with the judgmental, hateful timbre often heard, would have kept the author within the boundaries of orthodoxy.
In making a point about the lack of love Mr. Pavlovitz, by his own admission, has stepped over the rather expansive lines of orthodoxy.(Kindle location 508) So what basis does he have for, Love your neighbor as yourself?
I hear what he is saying, and it should affect every message I preach, every word I say and every interaction I have. We have one job, Love.
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The odds are fairly strong that you're either a fan of John Pavlovitz or you're not a fan of John Pavlovitz. With Pavlovitz, there's really not much in the way of a middle ground.

Though, I suppose you could say that even among those who identify as more progressive among Christians Pavlovitz is still an acquired taste who can be simultaneously maddening and endearing.

All of these qualities are, of course, on full display in Pavlovitz's latest book "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans."

Only a few years ago, Pavlovitz was a newly unemployed former megachurch pastor whose blog post that he'd support his children if they were gay went viral. This spiraled into more blog posts, essays, and the now Unitarian pastor has millions of blog readers and over 300,000 followers on Twitter with an approach to Christianity that finds its foundation in the very theme of this book - love should be at the center of our faith. If it's not? We're doing it wrong.

A lot of us are doing it wrong.

Even among Unitarians, Pavlovitz is a bit unusual. The entire Unitarian-Universalist movement, of which I have been a member, leans more toward humanists, atheists, and agnostics than it does those who still lay claim to the Christian identity.

But, I think it's firmly established that John Pavlovitz is unafraid to be different.

Truthfully, I found the first 1/4 of "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk" to be a bit of a mishmash with an uneven tone that far too often crossed the line into rambling lectures that often felt like off the cuff remarks after a beer or two by an angry theologian.

I didn't hate it. Far from it. In fact, I agreed with most of it. I just didn't find it to be a particularly engaging read.

However, something happened at exactly the 26% (Thanks Kindle!) mark. Pavlovitz found his groove and what had previously been rambling exhortations suddenly felt more grounded in humanity and compassionately communicated.

It's not that there's anything wrong with anger, an actual subject within the book, but as Pavlovitz himself would likely note if that anger causes you to be a jerk you're doing it wrong. Early on here, I couldn't escape the feeling that Pavlovitz was coming off like a bit of a jerk.

Then, it went away and the "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk" that followed was engaging, compelling, and a call for Christians to become better humans.

"If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk" demands an open-mindedness that is seemingly not that present these days within the Christian community, a willingness to hear differing opinions and a willingness to be called up toward Christ's teachings rather than getting settled into our baser instincts that allow for hatefulness, separation, division, and all those other things Christ never, ever taught.

Pavlovitz imagines a world where Christians live into the basic concept of "Thou Shalt Not Be Horrible" is a basic foundation of faith and where one's living out of Christianity builds people up and creates a sense of belonging rather than tears people down and sows division. Pavlovitz explores such basic concepts as the existence of hell, the utility of prayer, the way people of faith treat people who are LGBTQ, the value of anger, and a myriad of other subjects in "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk." While I at times wished that Pavlovitz would weave into the book's tapestry more theological and scriptural discussions, the truth is that so much of what Pavlovitz writes here is absolutely fundamental within Christianity that it's kind of disturbing that a book even needs to be written about it.

Alas, here we are.

While I struggled early on with "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk," once I got into Pavlovitz's rhythm I found the book to be unapologetically and relentlessly compassionate, purposeful, and aimed squarely toward imagining a faith more like Christ and a whole lot less like Donald Trump and, quite honestly, anyone who would hijack Christianity with a vision toward power rather than people.

An important and timely work, "If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk" finds John Pavlovitz at his most passionate and fiery and precise and willing to ask the questions and have the conversations so desperately needed in the Christian church today and amongst those who call themselves Christians.
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