If you’ve been disillusioned by church and Christians, I’ve got two books that might help you.
First, Jay Bakker’s Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self and Society. Bakker is the son of famous television evangelist James Bakker, whose large ministry fell into ruins after a scandal in the 1980s. Bakker begins this book with a bit of this story and throughout reveals the path he took from the lows of alcoholism and drug abuse to starting his own church. I was actually expecting more memoir in this book. There is a lot of it there, but this book is really reflections on grace, chiefly from Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. We need more books on grace. At times this book reminded me of one of my favorites, Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace. Grace is scandalous and Jay Bakker pulls back the curtain to remind us of the scandal. That scandal, for many of us who have been well-behaved (more or less) Christians our whole life is that God loves those people too. It was Jesus’ message and it is still a beautiful message today.
Second is Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint. This book is brand new, unlike Bakker’s which came out in 2011, and has been getting a good deal of publicity. Bolz-Weber’s book leans more to the memoir side. She gives us glimpses into her own long journey out of a conservative church, into drugs and alcohol (and more) and then back to faith. Today she pastors a Lutheran church in Denver that reaches all sorts of people who are often not comfortable in traditional church. Her book may be difficult to read for some Christians as she writes from her heart, complete with a good bit of cussing. That said, if all you see is the swearing then you miss the honesty and beauty in the story. Grace shows up again.