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Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God

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We human beings are burdened by our tendencies to harshly judge others and ourselves. Unfortunately for believers, this bent is as prevalent in the church as in the world. Pastor and author Gregory A. Boyd calls readers to a higher standard through understanding the true manner in which God views humanity: as infinitely worthwhile and lovable. Only an attitude shift in how We human beings are burdened by our tendencies to harshly judge others and ourselves. Unfortunately for believers, this bent is as prevalent in the church as in the world. Pastor and author Gregory A. Boyd calls readers to a higher standard through understanding the true manner in which God views humanity: as infinitely worthwhile and lovable. Only an attitude shift in how we perceive ourselves in light of God's love can impact how we relate to people and transform our judgmental nature. Believers wrestling with the reality of God's love and Christians struggling with judging in the local church will appreciate this examination of how we move from a self-centered to a Christ-centered life.


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We human beings are burdened by our tendencies to harshly judge others and ourselves. Unfortunately for believers, this bent is as prevalent in the church as in the world. Pastor and author Gregory A. Boyd calls readers to a higher standard through understanding the true manner in which God views humanity: as infinitely worthwhile and lovable. Only an attitude shift in how We human beings are burdened by our tendencies to harshly judge others and ourselves. Unfortunately for believers, this bent is as prevalent in the church as in the world. Pastor and author Gregory A. Boyd calls readers to a higher standard through understanding the true manner in which God views humanity: as infinitely worthwhile and lovable. Only an attitude shift in how we perceive ourselves in light of God's love can impact how we relate to people and transform our judgmental nature. Believers wrestling with the reality of God's love and Christians struggling with judging in the local church will appreciate this examination of how we move from a self-centered to a Christ-centered life.

30 review for Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book blew my freaking mind. I grew up in an extrememly conservative evangelical Christian home and over the years, I have basically quit going to church because of the hipocracy and judgment in the name of God. I've come to dislike and distrust organized religion, yet I've always desired a return to God, but didn't know how. This book was like therapy for me, as someone who has always questioned the status quo with the religion I was raised in. It renewed my faith in God and made me feel li This book blew my freaking mind. I grew up in an extrememly conservative evangelical Christian home and over the years, I have basically quit going to church because of the hipocracy and judgment in the name of God. I've come to dislike and distrust organized religion, yet I've always desired a return to God, but didn't know how. This book was like therapy for me, as someone who has always questioned the status quo with the religion I was raised in. It renewed my faith in God and made me feel like I'm not crazy for feeling the way I've always felt. A must read for anyone who has felt hurt and judgment from those who call themselves Christian and have lost faith because of it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barry

    Building on a teaching from Bonhoeffer, Boyd contends that Jesus calls us to love one another, but we cannot both love and judge. The curse of partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil means that we have tried to judge what is good and evil for ourselves, thus assuming a role that belongs to God alone. It is our fallen nature to unconsciously set up personal ethical systems that tend to emphasize what is good in ourselves and what is evil in others, fostering a judgmental Building on a teaching from Bonhoeffer, Boyd contends that Jesus calls us to love one another, but we cannot both love and judge. The curse of partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil means that we have tried to judge what is good and evil for ourselves, thus assuming a role that belongs to God alone. It is our fallen nature to unconsciously set up personal ethical systems that tend to emphasize what is good in ourselves and what is evil in others, fostering a judgmental attitude. This judgmentalism become evident in our churches where we have learned to downplay sins that are common among our particular congregations (e.g. gluttony, divorce, greed, pride) while strenuously condemning the sins of various out-groups (especially certain sexual sins). We forget that we are all sinners, and we are called to love one another rather than judge one another. “It is important for us to notice that religious sin is the only sin Jesus publicly confronted. The religious variety of the forbidden fruit is the most addictive and deceptive variety. Instead of acknowledging that the knowledge of good and evil is prohibited, religious idolatry embraces the knowledge of good and evil as divinely sanctioned and mandated. It gives the illusion of being on God’s side even while it destroys life and hardens people in direct opposition to God. Religious sin is the most destructive kind of sickness, for it masquerades as and feeds off the illusion of health.” Overall Boyd makes a good case, and his message is important and convicting. I wish however, he would have spent more time addressing some of the obvious objections, such as 1 Cor 5 where Paul faults the Corinthian church for tolerating one of their own who was living with his father’s wife: “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? Purge the evil person from among you.” Boyd finally gets around to this passage in the final chapter, but his treatment seems somewhat perfunctory. Thank you Bob for the great gift!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Harman

    This book is fantastic. The perfect read for the Church caught in the midst of pluralistic postmodernism - how to remain true to God, His Word and His mission for the Church and what that looks like in today's culture. I recommend this book for anyone. Believers can draw so much wisdom from this book in how to better represent Christ in this world that will change the culture around us effectively and positively, in order to usher in the Kingdom. Unbelievers will find what Christianity is intend This book is fantastic. The perfect read for the Church caught in the midst of pluralistic postmodernism - how to remain true to God, His Word and His mission for the Church and what that looks like in today's culture. I recommend this book for anyone. Believers can draw so much wisdom from this book in how to better represent Christ in this world that will change the culture around us effectively and positively, in order to usher in the Kingdom. Unbelievers will find what Christianity is intended to be in Christ and will hopefully be drawn into a search for such Christianity. Please, read this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan Haley

    I am nearly finished with this excellent book by Boyd. I outlined a few chapters for a series of messages on judgment and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I highly recommend this to all believers. Be prepared to change your thinking!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gerard Kelly

    Just discovered this through a friend who is probably more of an Anabaptist than I am - but I have found it very moving and possibly life-changing. I have long believed a) that the fight between 'religion' and relationship is THE key struggle of human history, and the central thrust of the OLd and New Testaments and b) that Biblical truth is contained in embryo in the Genesis narrative - lust as reflexologists find a map of the whole body on the sole of the foot. But I have never succeeded in pu Just discovered this through a friend who is probably more of an Anabaptist than I am - but I have found it very moving and possibly life-changing. I have long believed a) that the fight between 'religion' and relationship is THE key struggle of human history, and the central thrust of the OLd and New Testaments and b) that Biblical truth is contained in embryo in the Genesis narrative - lust as reflexologists find a map of the whole body on the sole of the foot. But I have never succeeded in putting these two commitments (both non-negotiables for me) together. Until now. Boyd's approach, following Bonhoeffer, identifies judgement and judgmentalism as the fruit if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Simple, profound and faith-transforming. His argument is simple (this isn't really a spoiler, since the book has so much more to say on the topic) - the essential call to the church is to LOVE; the opposite of love is JUDGEMENT and judgement is at the heart of the FALL. Still thinking this through... but I think I've found a real gem here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lila Diller

    I can't say I liked it, but I can't say I don't recommend it, either. There were some good things and some bad things. Good things: He argued thoroughly and convincingly that the original sin of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the basis for all subsequent idolatry, condemnation by us humans, and failure of the Church especially to live out of love. The first chapter explained the amazing love our triune God has for us, welcoming us into His fellowship. The Hol I can't say I liked it, but I can't say I don't recommend it, either. There were some good things and some bad things. Good things: He argued thoroughly and convincingly that the original sin of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the basis for all subsequent idolatry, condemnation by us humans, and failure of the Church especially to live out of love. The first chapter explained the amazing love our triune God has for us, welcoming us into His fellowship. The Holy Spirit used one section to enlighten me of why I felt dissatisfied even with my relationship with the Lord—because the rituals of how I spend time with Him like reading my Bible and praying had become my idols. Bad things: A lot of repetition. I felt that all of Part 3 (chapters 7-9) merely repeated his assertions in the previous part, with more eloquent words describing our sinful condition. The lack of clear definitions. I had to wait for three chapters before I really figured out what “getting life” meant. He never defined judgment and explained the difference between discernment and condemnation. And even his definition of love in chapter 1 left questions: “It is the act of unconditionally ascribing worth to another at a cost to oneself.” How do you ascribe worth to another human being – and how or when does it cost me to do it? That was never really answered, even in the last chapter, which was supposed to be the practical one. A few verses seemed to be taken out of context, like Matthew 10:39 on p.75. His focus on the negative. Almost every chapter except the last focused much more on the sin and its consequences than on any constructive advice on how to move past it. The last chapter had been promised several times in the previous ones as the answer to all questions about how the Church really should act. It wasn't. And the conclusion – and even at least half of the slightly more positive epilogue – still focused on the negative. His final answer to how believers are supposed to lovingly point out sin in our fellow believers is small groups. That's the only context that this works and is loving. All other contexts don't give us the trust we need before we allow people to speak into our lives in a rebuking way, except for the very rare occasion of church discipline by the leaders. This is too "all or nothing," almost an absolute statement. After all of his vague statements about not knowing or ever being able to know all the variables in another person's life (except in a small group) and so we should never rebuke them, this felt restrictive. What about those of us who go to churches where they don't have small groups? What about those of us who are members of small groups but the members keep changing, never letting us feel safe enough to confess our sins? What are we supposed to do – demand that our pastors start small groups? Or go against our leaders and start our own? And what about intimate relationships that are not in a small group setting — do they act like a small group enough to justify this kind of accountability? It just left more questions than he answered. Favorite quotes: Though there were many I disagreed with, there were also many I liked and agreed with: “We are created with a hunger only the triune God can satisfy... God wants to be the source of our life—our worth, our sense of fullness, our significance.” (p.29-30) “We are only balanced in our understanding of love when we understand that it the one thing we must live in—to all people, at all times, in all situations, without exception. If we do this, everything else that we need to do will get done. If we don't do this, there's simply nothing else worth doing” [1 Corinthians 13]. (p.60) “Our judgment is both the result of our seeking to feed ourselves with idols as well as an idol with which we feed ourselves.” (p.82) “The sins a particular religious community is good at avoiding tend to be the ones identified as most important to avoid in the mind of that community [such as homosexuality], while the sins a community is not good at avoiding tend to be minimized or ignored altogether—regardless of what emphasis the Bible puts on those sins [like pride or gluttony].” (p. 83)These examples are one he uses himself in the same chapter. His point is that we pick and choose which sins to judge—always those we don't do ourselves. “The only conclusion about people God allows us and commands us to embrace is the one given to us on Calvary: People have unsurpassable worth because Jesus died for them.” (p.107) “Adam and Eve's story is not just a 'once upon a time' story; it is also the story of every human being. The beginning of all sin—the origin of all that is unloving—is a judgment about God.” (p.127) “Living out of our knowledge of good and evil, we display and strive to acquire all we judge as good. And we suppress and strive to avoid all that we judge to be evil. We perform and we hide [like Adam and Eve].” (p.161) “Our outrageous love becomes a puzzle to them [unbelievers] for which Jesus Christ is the only adequate explanation.” (p.213) “A community of outrageous love is centered on its confidence that the Holy Spirit is at all times and in all people at work to change us into the likeness of Christ... And it is woven together around this center by the intimate relationships its members have with other members in small-group fellowships... [It] is centered on the tree on which Christ hung rather than on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” (p.223)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jamin Bradley

    Repenting of Religion is a wonder of a book. At first I thought it might be a stretch of a thesis but after reading a few chapters I was convinced and left in awe. You have probably never thought of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil this way. You have probably never thought of judgment as a real problem in Christianity. You have probably never looked at Christianity and sin through the lens presented in this book. Illuminate and challenge yourself with this awesome book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Alexander

    one of the best most challenging books on Christianity I've read to date - as someone who grew up in the church & totally bought into some of the more judgmental aspects of faith, sometimes I was almost insulted by some of what Greg proposes but ultimately it was a freeing read that has caused me to rethink what my relationship with Christ means to me as well as my fellow Christians & non-believers. one of the best most challenging books on Christianity I've read to date - as someone who grew up in the church & totally bought into some of the more judgmental aspects of faith, sometimes I was almost insulted by some of what Greg proposes but ultimately it was a freeing read that has caused me to rethink what my relationship with Christ means to me as well as my fellow Christians & non-believers.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Trotter

    The love of Jesus ablaze in us Boyd roots true Kingdom living in the love of God expressed in the world. He doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for middle ground but it is the message I personally needed this week. The book will challenge your view of what true Christlikeness can bring and the tragic results of religion apart from love.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian Christensen

    Premise is we keep eating from the Tree of Good and Evil- the original sin - instead of showing Christ like love. It addresses the mandate for church disciple but has quite of insight into whats been done wrong by the church. A good book to end 2017 with...on to 2018

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bridgette

    Incredible book. It was a bit ‘wordy’ but worth reading to the end. It changed my perspective, and cleared up some muddy areas I had on judgement. I will definitely be recommending it to friends. Highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Ann

    This was a good book, with a good bottome line. I did find it frustrating in that the writer repeats himself a lot, and his reading style is a bit tedious. But what he says is good.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Edgren

    A fantastic treatment of judgement vs love. This book explorers the sin problem and Salvation solution on a way that truly inspired me with new thoughts and renewed faith in Jesus!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ph. D.

    This book needs to be required reading for anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Randall

    read it on family holiday for christmas a while ago. Amazing look at relationship over "have to"s. Love.... read it on family holiday for christmas a while ago. Amazing look at relationship over "have to"s. Love....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Trent Hodson

    If you read one book this year. This would have to be at the top my list. Absolutely stunning and revolutionary. This book not only deals to religion but offers the true way of God. Please read it

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rob Jacobs

    This read helps anyone who's been abused by religion. This read helps anyone who's been abused by religion.

  18. 5 out of 5

    JP Saint-Louis

    Important topic! Great explanation of judging v. loving...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dodi Antunes

    This took me a while to read, mostly because it was so dense and I found I couldn't absorb more than 1 chapter per sitting; which tended to look like a week or so to chew each one. It was quite repetitive in the wording of things, but I also felt this to be necessary for the most part (not always) when emphasising certain topics. I love the way he words things (quite lengthy though, and not everyone likes that), and I found myself taking 3x as long to read just for the fact that I was recording This took me a while to read, mostly because it was so dense and I found I couldn't absorb more than 1 chapter per sitting; which tended to look like a week or so to chew each one. It was quite repetitive in the wording of things, but I also felt this to be necessary for the most part (not always) when emphasising certain topics. I love the way he words things (quite lengthy though, and not everyone likes that), and I found myself taking 3x as long to read just for the fact that I was recording quotes by the paragraph. Overall: quotable, rich, lengthy, convicting, biblically based, quotes a lot of Bonhoeffer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gwen Henson

    I’ve recently read Irresistible by Andy Stanley, where he talks about how simple the gospel really is, and that we are under a new covenant- grace. Our new measure of everything is love. As opposed to all of the laws in the Old Testament ie old covenant. The OT is instructive and fascinating history, but we no longer live under the law. This book by Boyd finished the thought- that rather than spending our lives fixated on how to get everyone around us to stop sinning, we ought to stop being judg I’ve recently read Irresistible by Andy Stanley, where he talks about how simple the gospel really is, and that we are under a new covenant- grace. Our new measure of everything is love. As opposed to all of the laws in the Old Testament ie old covenant. The OT is instructive and fascinating history, but we no longer live under the law. This book by Boyd finished the thought- that rather than spending our lives fixated on how to get everyone around us to stop sinning, we ought to stop being judges of good and evil, and instead focus on loving people. I realized that the first sin wasn’t disobedience or eating the fruit, but rather the first sin was in the human’s hearts to want be like God- knowing good and evil and wanting to be able to judge. I don’t give it full five stars, only because I felt it was extremely repetitive and could have been written in half as many pages or maybe even less! But I love the message!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Lloyd

    Although it gets rather dense and lumpy in its style at times, meaning it's not quite as accessible as Greg Boyd might have liked, I think this book captures so much of what I feel I have been trying to learn over the last few years. It summarises so many areas where I have been happily travelling on my theological journey in recent years. The focus is away from judgement and the faith as ethics (who and what is right and wrong), to love and faith as the experience of true life through the love Although it gets rather dense and lumpy in its style at times, meaning it's not quite as accessible as Greg Boyd might have liked, I think this book captures so much of what I feel I have been trying to learn over the last few years. It summarises so many areas where I have been happily travelling on my theological journey in recent years. The focus is away from judgement and the faith as ethics (who and what is right and wrong), to love and faith as the experience of true life through the love of God. It is really the course book for my own spiritual journey over the last few years. Because of the emphasis is on love and away from the religious idols, it is about reconciliation, inclusion, openness, and to a centred-set approach to truth and discipleship. Despite the sometimes turgid style, I love the message.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lars

    Perhaps not so great exegesis, but good theology nonetheless. The idea of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" is intriguing, even if his interpretation is taken a bit too far in its application. The motif is not a great theme of the Bible in the sense Boyd would have you believe, but his ideas about judging are quite valid nonetheless, and his concluding chapters are perhaps the most important. The book suffers from Boyd's commitment to explain things exhaustively. He uses way too many word Perhaps not so great exegesis, but good theology nonetheless. The idea of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" is intriguing, even if his interpretation is taken a bit too far in its application. The motif is not a great theme of the Bible in the sense Boyd would have you believe, but his ideas about judging are quite valid nonetheless, and his concluding chapters are perhaps the most important. The book suffers from Boyd's commitment to explain things exhaustively. He uses way too many words, and there's too much repetition for a book of this genre. He could certainly learn something from his good friend Rob Bell in this respect.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elena Forsythe

    Really fantastic challenge to the Church that when Jesus demonstrated that love is greater than judgment he meant we now need to actually *live* that way. The sin of Adam and Eve in eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is that they began to judge according to their own knowledge rather than trusting in the loving and perfect knowledge of God. Our false ideas about God and our lack of love for our neighbor come from that usurpation of his authority as judge and our attempts to find re Really fantastic challenge to the Church that when Jesus demonstrated that love is greater than judgment he meant we now need to actually *live* that way. The sin of Adam and Eve in eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is that they began to judge according to their own knowledge rather than trusting in the loving and perfect knowledge of God. Our false ideas about God and our lack of love for our neighbor come from that usurpation of his authority as judge and our attempts to find reality within ourselves instead of looking to the truth our Creator shares with us. Boyd packs this book with both scripture and Bonhoeffer (good pairing, I'd say). Highly recommended!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Absolute must read. One of the best books I have read in years. I can unequivocally recommend this book. The book builds on Bonhoeffer's teachings on the two trees in the garden. I remember first reading Bonhoeffer 30+ years ago and being fascinated by the implications of that teaching. It seemed so obvious at the time that this was how Jesus called us. So purely, lovingly and mercifully to himself and sending us in that same pure merciful ove to everyone else. I confess, somehow over the years, Absolute must read. One of the best books I have read in years. I can unequivocally recommend this book. The book builds on Bonhoeffer's teachings on the two trees in the garden. I remember first reading Bonhoeffer 30+ years ago and being fascinated by the implications of that teaching. It seemed so obvious at the time that this was how Jesus called us. So purely, lovingly and mercifully to himself and sending us in that same pure merciful ove to everyone else. I confess, somehow over the years, religion pressed in when God's love should have been pushing out. This book a great reminder of who we are and what we are called to.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pastor Dave

    In this challenging book, Boyd takes on the concept that judgment and love are mutually exclusive activities for human beings. Only God can rightly do both. So for us to truly love as God commanded, we must let go of our judgment. And for Boyd, the problem of judgment began the moment the first humans ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Boyd uses the story of Genesis 3 to outline the trouble of knowing good and evil, and the problem of replacing God as the center and source of our In this challenging book, Boyd takes on the concept that judgment and love are mutually exclusive activities for human beings. Only God can rightly do both. So for us to truly love as God commanded, we must let go of our judgment. And for Boyd, the problem of judgment began the moment the first humans ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Boyd uses the story of Genesis 3 to outline the trouble of knowing good and evil, and the problem of replacing God as the center and source of our lives. This book will challenge your heart.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Mcguire

    This book gets 5 stars because of content. Boyd's insights are at times astounding, although his mechanical writing style would be a deterrent for many. This book, like most of his books, reads like a university textbook. This isn't so much a criticism as it is a note about genre. Repenting of religion draws the reader to the idea that religion seeks to judge and save from the outside in. But the love of God expressed definitively through Jesus, and especially on the cross, changes us from the in This book gets 5 stars because of content. Boyd's insights are at times astounding, although his mechanical writing style would be a deterrent for many. This book, like most of his books, reads like a university textbook. This isn't so much a criticism as it is a note about genre. Repenting of religion draws the reader to the idea that religion seeks to judge and save from the outside in. But the love of God expressed definitively through Jesus, and especially on the cross, changes us from the inside out.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    While I honestly believe that Boyd has some great things to say, I found that his either/or diction, use of extreme cases, and redundancy alienated his themes. What he said could have been said more concisely, and without citing primarily extreme instances. He allowed for little for disagreement because when he represented a possible contradiction he painted it in the worst light possible -- either/or language.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Traci

    Enjoyed the fresh take on loving as Christ loved, but more importantly the call to face and lay down our judgments. Easily understandable explanations that one can wrap your mind around without being bogged down in theological language. Loved how he explained the proper context of accountability. the modern church's failure is not just our judgmental ideologies but is systemic in the way we do 'church.' Some great food to chew on throughout the book. Enjoyed the fresh take on loving as Christ loved, but more importantly the call to face and lay down our judgments. Easily understandable explanations that one can wrap your mind around without being bogged down in theological language. Loved how he explained the proper context of accountability. the modern church's failure is not just our judgmental ideologies but is systemic in the way we do 'church.' Some great food to chew on throughout the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Sheil

    Excellent, detailed analysis of age old truth. Puts Bonhoeffer into context and makes him accessible to the modern reader. I was hoping for a bit more personal confession and incite into what this type of repentance looks like on a pracitical level but it never came. If you are looking for a scholarly study of ethics and the fall this is it. If you want a personal "how to" this is not the book for you. Excellent, detailed analysis of age old truth. Puts Bonhoeffer into context and makes him accessible to the modern reader. I was hoping for a bit more personal confession and incite into what this type of repentance looks like on a pracitical level but it never came. If you are looking for a scholarly study of ethics and the fall this is it. If you want a personal "how to" this is not the book for you.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Darrell Amy

    A Must Read for Every Christ Follower This book challenged me to see the way that judgement has successfully edged out love in my life. Boyd traces the problem back to the moral superiority we received when we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While God has forbidden judgement and commanded us to love, most of Christianity has ended up doing the exact opposite. If you want a book that will rock your world, pick this one up and read it.

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