I received a free copy of Hugh Halter’s new book Sacrilege from The Ooze Blogger program. As always, I am not required to write a positive review but only an honest one.
Summary from Hugh’s blog post:
“This issue – How are Christians to live in the World?” Said, more theologically… “What does it mean to live an incarnational life?’ Said, more practically…”What does it mean to become like Jesus?”
“Sacrilege is about the Incarnational life of Jesus. In it, I expose Jesus as the least religious person you would have ever met, and show how his non-churchy ways and his absolute sacrilege with the scriptures, the Sabbath, sin, sinners, and a host of other kingpin issues, were exactly why people were drawn to him. But the book isn’t about Jesus. It’s about us.”
Read the rest here.
What I Liked
I really, really liked this book. I found that I resonated with it throughout the chapters.
Hugh is authentic, genuine and bold. But this is not a reflection from an interesting young guy with tattoos jaded by his first few years in ministry. Hugh has been in ministry and training others for decades, has survived ministry burn-out and has enjoyed a renaissance of calling. He speaks with wisdom from many painful experiences (again, I really resonated with him) and offers some clarity in an church conversation often marked by legalism and traditionalism (not to imply that the two go hand in hand).
He sounds like a great down-to-earth pastor, friend, father, husband type of guy (I was often moved by how he would talk about his son with epilepsy).
He’s inspired by Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy
I like any book about missional-living that doesn’t actually reference the term. (This does not mean that I do not like those that do mention it, in fact, some of them are my favorite. But it’s an over-used term and Hugh does a great job contributing to the conversation without contributing to the overdose).
I could go on for a good while but I’m trying to keep these reviews short. I really enjoyed it and recommend it.
What I Wasn’t Sure About
I’d say, Peter Rollins is sacrilegious (in a good way). I loved what Hugh was doing throughout the book with this idea of sacrilege. Citing numerous times where Jesus’ behavior was considered “sacrilegious”, faithful disciples need to follow suit for the causes of the Kingdom. As mentioned, I liked his authenticity but I wasn’t always sure that what Hugh was talking about was actually sacrilegious (and I don’t think who I would identify as a true liberal would identify me as one, so I think it’s a legitimate critique).
I would have liked to see Hugh push it a little further and include more examples like flipping the “double-bird” to his neighbor who was flipping him off. I’m not looking for raunchy behavior, just wanted to see it live up to the expectation. By thew way, that example led to a good friendship that has allowed for much good. New tool for ministry … Hmmm.
Who I Think It’s For
Those that want to think about the missional church movement from a pastoral, down-to-earth perspective without all the fancy terms but without losing the solid and practical insight.
Perhaps those in traditional churches who have no idea/interest of what the term “missional” means but know what their expression of church-life is lacking the beautiful danger that Jesus modeled.
I could see a small group sitting down with this and discussing it over a month or two. He’s got helpful illustrations, makes excellent points and a sound thesis.
As a believer of plurality, I don’t think all pastors should be like Hugh, but I certainly wish there were more. In my decade of ministry, I’ve met a number of pastors who were “rough around the edges” but some of them were “rough around the soul” too (and every so often I fear that I may adding to that number – and so may God keep my heart broken). For those that have not read the dangerous/controversial/love-filled Jesus, this book will eye-opening and maybe even paradigm-changing. For those that have, will be grateful for guys like Hugh telling the messy story of Jesus with the story of their own messy lives.
You can order it here.
Check out his blog – http://hughhalter.com
And watch this video of Hugh describing his new book