Friday, December 7, 2012

Basically and simply bold

It’s always fun to get free books, right?

I signed up to be a reviewer for a group called Handlebar* and the first book I was sent is “Bold as Love: What can happen when we see people the way God does” by Bob Roberts, Jr.

It must be a really good book since it’s endorsed by the likes of Jimmy Carter, Dale Hanson Bourke, Bob Buford, and others.
Makes it a tad intimidating to review the book in any way but glowingly positive! But I’ll do my best.

The thrust of the book is a call to Christians to truly love their neighbors – all neighbors or all faiths and all “tribes” – as the Bible intends. A daunting task, to be sure.

Through his personal experiences and the efforts of the church he pastors, Roberts “shows [us] what it looks like to live our faith daily in the global public square among people of other faiths – Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists.”

However, in this book, Roberts recounts primarily his dealings with Muslims as the basis for his examples and prescriptions. He clearly knows and rubs elbows with many Muslims, apparently around the world.

In a very simple writing style, Roberts addresses five fears he says we need to overcome as we reach out. These are the fear of physical harm, the fear of hostility from those we may perceive to be our enemies, the fear of hostility from our friends for mixing with those outside our own camp, the fear of having one’s own faith challenged to the point of possibly going over to the other side, and the fear of fear itself.

Whether these are legitimate concerns in your own efforts to reach out to your neighbors, you will have to decide on your own. Roberts does give examples of how he experienced and dealt with each.

He does caution against labeling outreach initiatives as inter-faith, preferring the term multi-faith instead. Inter-faith implies setting aside disagreeable elements of every faith and finding common ground on beliefs that can be shared. This tends to compromise and water down each. However, multi-faith implies each group working alongside each other respectfully with all beliefs fully intact, cooperatively seeking the common good.

Roberts did make an excellent point early on in the book. He states, “When we fight a mosque being built [in the U.S.], we are just making it harder for Christian churches to be built in other lands where people may be fearful of Christians.”

If we believe in and support Christian missionary efforts around the globe, then we must be tolerant of the same kind of efforts by those of other faiths, and be a loving witness of the Gospel that God plants right next to us. If we show tolerance and love to them here, they are more likely to respond in kind there.

This is not so much a handbook on how to do multi-faith outreach ministry as a recounting of experiences and thoughts from one who is doing it. Roberts provides some insight into what an individual or congregation can expect as well as good things to do and not so good things to avoid.

To learn more about Bob Roberts, click here:
To visit Bob's blog, click here:
* As part of the deal I was asked to post an honest review to my blog as well as on the book's Amazon page.

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