If God is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk by John Pavlovitz–Book Review

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, judgemental 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.

Sponsored Ad - If God Is Love, Don't Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans

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 as 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.

On the plus side, I certainly agree that we should be open to cultivating relationships with others who are different in some way. When we do so, we find that our skin color, political party or denomination are not as important as learning to know and appreciate one another as human beings. I also learned a new word that I liked — orthopraxy, which I now know is correct conduct, as opposed to orthodoxy which is correct belief.

VERDICT: 1 STAR. Not very edifying.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more book reviews see these posts:

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron–Book Review

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell–Book Review

Christ-Centered Conflict Resolution by Tony Merida–Book Review

John Stott on the Christian Community

“The invisible God, who once made himself visible in Christ, now makes himself visible in Christians, if we love one another.  God is love in his essential being, and has revealed his love in the gift of his Son to live and die for us  Now he calls us to be a community of love, loving each other in the intimacy of his family –especially across the barriers of age and sex, race and rank–and loving the world he loves in its alienation, hunger, poverty and pain.  It is through the quality of our loving that God makes himself visible today.  We cannot proclaim the gospel of God’s love with any degree of integrity if we do not exhibit it in our love for others.”

John Stott

For more posts about loving one another see:

Little Children, Love One Another

Love One Another

By Our Love