This was number one on my ever growing reading list after it had sat on my shelf for way too long and come with high recommendations from a number of people.
Bruxy writes like he preaches – informally and from the heart. (for those who don’t know, Bruxy is the teaching pastor at The Meeting House – a growing church in Southern Ontario that meets in multiple movie theaters and warehouses across the GTA and beyond, but is really all about house churches as well as the big gathering. His podcast is also supposed to be fantastic, though I haven’t listened more than a few times) Reading Bruxy made me wonder if he was either really good at faking being smart, or really good at being smart while still being accessible and fun. I’m going to go with the latter – he seems well read and well versed in the Bible and even the biblical languages (at least of the New Testament).
The title really is the thesis of the book, with the subtitle of “encountering the subversive spirituality of Jesus”. This isn’t a book on the emerging church or a current trend in North American churches, it’s a book about Jesus and what the Bible says about him. Although it contains some of the “subversive” themes that seem to be popular in younger culture today, I think this book would be valuable to anyone of any age and worldview who’s interested in Jesus.
Bruxy’s main point is that Jesus didn’t come to start the new religion of Christianity, he came to fulfill the need for any religion at all. Bruxy draws from a number of the stories of Jesus and the parables in which Jesus goes against the Jewish religion – things that most people wouldn’t pick up without knowing the historical context, but reveal the passages and Jesus in a whole new light. It should be mentioned that Bruxy defines religion and he’s not actually saying that everything that everyone assumes as religion is bad. This is one of the cases where a word has a very different definition in different contexts, but I like how Bruxy encourages his readers to thoughtfully consider the definition and connotations that the word “religion” holds in culture today.
The warning is actually quite simple – make sure we keep our eyes on Jesus and his Kingdom, not on tradition or organized religion. He’s not suggesting that we abandon meeting weekly or being organized at all – we as humans need those things to connect with God – but we need to be sure that we drink the living water instead of getting stuck licking an empty cup (p. 40).
While reading through the first half of the book there were a few things that bothered me, but were addressed appropriately later (the role of the trinity and the human need for organization and consistent reminders…. meeting weekly and communion for examples). I would encourage anyone who reads this to be sure they finish the book, as some of the most important stuff is in the last few chapters. In some ways, Bruxy doesn’t offer tons of “how-to” advice after telling the reader that we no longer need religion, and I fear that some could abandon the church altogether writing it off as an unnecessary religious organization. That being said, it’s written to help those who know the emptiness of religion in their soul come to grasps with why that is and why God actually thinks that’s a good thing.
If read in the right light and understanding of the church as (or on the road to becoming) “organized NON-religion,” this is a great read. I’d highly recommend it to just about anyone, whether someone who’s become complacent to the empty “religion” in their life or someone frusturated by the emptiness they see in religions all around them.
There’s something inside of me that is fired up by this message. There’s freedom in following Christ that doesn’t have to come in any religious form. We are all fallen and have to struggle with that and will constantly be pulled back into religion, but Christ wanted – and calls us to – better than that.