As a pastor, I enjoy reading behind authors who write on topics such as faith, religion, Christianity, the church, and missions. I also enjoy reading behind those authors who delve into the deeper areas such as; the reluctance of the Christian to share their faith with others, the widespread persecution against the church, the decline of the church in America, and the seemingly growing trend of Christians divorcing themselves from the church. It was for the reasons above that I was intrigued by Eric Shuster’s new book, “Where Are the Christians? The Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion”. Shuster is the director of the Foundation for Biblical Studies and regularly studies the faith of Christians today. Shuster sets out to solve the mystery as to where the Christians are today.
Shuster divides his book into four sections. In Section One, Who Are The Christians? A History, Shuster looks at the rise of the Christian faith through four time periods beginning with Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. In Section Two, What Is a Christian? A Definition, an attempt is made to generate a concise and exact definition for a Christian. In Section Three, Where Are The Christians? A Categorization, Shuster offers a his perspective as to the location of Christians today. He says they are leaving, hiding, vacillating, and endeavoring. In Section Four, How is Christianity to Unite? A Vision, he recommends four areas that can be strengthened to bring the Christian faith together (individual, family, church, and community).
I did not like this book at all. Section one was by far the best one. His summary of the Christian faith and the growth of the church through evangelism, corruption, and conflict were very well written and insightful. However, Shuster could have stopped after the first section and he would have had a much better book. Shuster’s attempt to define “Christian” is confusing, convoluted, and all-encompassing. As a result, there is no clear definition for the subject of his book. In sections three and four, Shuster inclusion of graphs, lists, surveys, and charts serve no other purpose than to further muddy the waters. The number one issue I have with “Where Are the Christians?” is the erroneous theology. For example, Shuster writes, “How important is baptism? Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘verily I say unto you thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5) The phrase ‘kingdom of God’ is interpreted in various ways with a common interpretation being ‘the Lord’s Church’. Using this interpretation, baptism is therefore not only a saving ordinance taught by Jesus Christ, but it is also a means of entering into a covenant as a member of the Lord’s Church”. It is my prayer that an individual who is seeking the Lord and has questions about personal salvation does not pick up this book. I cannot in good faith recommend this book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cedar Fort Publishing and Media as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”