This article is part of a blog tour for the new book by fellow MennoNerd, Benjamin Corey, entitled Undiluted. You can find all the articles in this blog tour by going to http://mennonerds.com/undiluted-mennonerds. The book was received free of charge from the publisher under no obligation for a favorable review.
When did you become a Mennonite? When did you start embracing Anabaptist ideals? These are two questions that I still struggle with today. On one hand, I could argue that I became a Mennonite at 16. That’s how old I was when I stood before the church, had my witnesses vouch for me, and decided that I would be part of this specific denomination. I had finished my discipleship classes, had been regularly attending a Mennonite church by that time for about a year and a half, and was almost entering into my junior (grade 11) year of high school at the Mennonite school literally across the street. However, the truth is, my quest to Anabaptism actually was a lot longer than that and nowhere near as cut and dry. It involved lots of twists, turns, and the occasional bump. The truth is, I really became an Anabaptist once I started attending Tyndale. To this day, I don’t think Tyndale – a largely evangelical and somewhat charismatic school – has any idea how much they shaped me to embrace not only a true view of Christ but also a true view of Anabaptism.
This is part of the reason why Benjamin Corey’s book Undiluted really stood out to me. Corey is a fellow Mennonerd blogger and an author with a deep passion to see the North American church relive its true identity – becoming counter-cultural rather than laizze-faire. Using a simple, yet delightful approach, this book presents its readers with challenging queries and honest searches to finding out who the God of the Bible really is.
For too long, outsiders have looked in on the Christian church and found it to be lacking. Accusations come from all sides that the church is too rigid, too formal, and too full of themselves. Individuals on the margins are finding the church to be exclusive, inaccessible, and boring. The culture is deeming the church to be gay-bashing, women-hating, and Islamophobic. But what did Christ actually intend for the church to become? He intended it to be built upon tradition but not enslaved to it. To be a community of believers with Christ at the center who out pour their lives in love and service to one another and to those who don’t believe. He anticipated an active, messy faith, not a placid, easy one.
Corey is a brilliant and accessible author in that he is able to combine personal experience with practical theology and to make it accessible for all levels of readership. His book is fast-paced, hard to put down, and yet bears the marks of one not ashamed to be real about the questions the church has left them with. It is an enmeshment of popular theology with old school ethic; the evangelical rootedness of Christ being at the center, the only true Lord, but the Anabaptist ideals of service and mission rather than simply evangelization.
There is something in this book that everyone can relate to. Whether you are finding your small group to be too surface-level and dream of deeper connections, you are a seminarian who is moving out of your denominational bubble and into a more transdenominal/ecumenical setting and it scares the daylights out of you, or you are someone who has left the church because they cannot accept where you are right now in your stage of life – this book is for you.
This book is written for the doubters as much as for the seekers. For the discontented as much (if not more so) than for the complacent. It is a challenge, a warning, and a signal to the contemporary church that if we want to thrive and burn long-term we are going to have to readjust our vision, our praxis, and our spiritual climate. It is a book that has the potential to be somewhat unpopular in a day and age which wants to do away with true Christianity and instead to embrace spiritualism. It is also a book that begs to be taken seriously.
It is easy for us as Christians to hear these sermons repeated over and over again at church – in one ear and out the other Sunday to Sunday. Corey’s book does not allow space or time for this. Instead, he challenges his readers that just like Christ humbled Himself, so, we too are also called to a life of service and action. There is no other way. Either you’re in or you’re out and if you’re going to be in then you’ve got to be in all the way.
Thought-provoking, straight-forward, and practical I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5 and would recommend it to anyone studying ministry, currently involved in ministry, or a dissatisfied pew sitter on Sunday morning. I hope you will all go out and buy yourself a copy, but more importantly, I hope you will take the lessons and warning provided by Corey to heart as we strive to build up the Kingdom of God here on this earth.