Good News for Anxious Christians, 10 Practical Things You Don’t Have to Do by Phillip Cary

Cary, a philosophy professor at Eastern University, challenges what he calls “the new evangelical theology” which is “a set of supposedly practical ideas about transforming your life that gets in the way of believing the gospel” (p. x).  The techniques that he covers “all have the characteristic that they turn you away from external things like the word of God, Christ in the flesh, and the life of the church, in order to seek God in your heart, your life, your experience.  Underneath a lot of talk about being personal with God, it’s a spirituality that actually leaves you alone with yourself” (p. xi).

With this premise in mind Cary goes on to attack ten “sacred cows” of the new evangelicalism.  As a college professor he constantly sees these faulty ways of Christian living and thinking in his students.  These young people have grown up in an evangelical environment that has perpetuated these myths for the entirety of their lives.  They are unaware that the matters Cary discusses are recent distortions of the truth and not part of historical Christianity.  Cary is writing primarily for these students and his writing style reflects that.  It is colloquial, repetitive and relatively simple.  Such a writing style might be irritating to older or more astute readers but the content of the book is excellent. 

The sacred cows of the new evangelicalism include:

• God is speaking in your heart
• Your intuitions are the voice of the Holy Spirit
• Finding God’s individual will for your life
• You must examine your motivations
• Heart and head are different
• You have to be transformed all the time
• You always have to experience joy
• Sermons must be practical
• Experience is foundational to the Christian life

As can be seen, each of these challenges to evangelical thought would elicit much discussion.  But Cary handles each topic well with clearly thought out reasoning and biblical understanding.  This is a helpful book and would be a great study for a high school or college Bible study.


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