I have to admit, when I first started reading this book, my reaction was entirely defensive. I have grown up in the church my entire life, and even though I recognize that it's not perfect, some of my best memories and greatest learning experiences have taken place inside. However, I have come to understand that my hour or two a week at church is no replacement for daily growth through prayer and study of the Word, sometimes rereading passages and wrestling with the things they teach for days or weeks because of something I don't want to admit I'm doing wrong.
Spencer makes several interesting points along the way. One that particularly stuck out to me was, "Wrong ideas about God are, themselves, false gods. They are idols just as much as a graven image." It is vitally important that we have a full, complete picture of who God truly is, and for that we need to be well-versed in the entirety of Scripture. Part of coming to such an understanding involves other believers who will see things we don't see, and church is one location you would expect to be able to partake in sharing. From experience I know this isn't always the case (and I'm sure many of you have sat in Sunday school classes and felt like you couldn't or shouldn't participate). I have learned a great deal from my various involvements at church over the years, but I've also learned a great deal at coffee shops, in living rooms, and outside, to name a few, as I've had lengthy, deep conversations with godly men and women.
I guess a frustration I had while reading this book was that it seemed like Spencer was elevating out-of-church experiences so completely above in-church ones. I would argue that there is a balance to be found, that it is a both/and, not an either/or situation.
My other frustration, which was minimal, was that the verses he quoted were not referenced directly in the text but were instead endnoted. I don't generally mind footnotes because they are right there on the page you are reading, but I don't usually take the time to turn to the back of a book to read the references.
While I don't fully agree with the stance that Spencer took in this book, I would rate it as a 3.5/5 for the amount of discussion reading this book could generate.
Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.