“I’m not religious, but I am a Christ follower.” I hear this in my circle of friends and guilty of saying it myself. It seems no one wants to admit to being "religious", because religion is rules, dogma, and rituals. Following Jesus isn’t about those things, even though it does involve disciplines and doctrines and walking in Truth.
Dwight Longenecker raises the question, though, of what “religious” actually means, when he looks at the origin of the word as one who has reverence for the sacred. Christianity as a religion should not be boring or bland. It’s not about being good. Following Jesus is a valiant quest, a battle with darkness, and the discovery of something to die for, which gives us something to live for – the reality of the truth and beauty in Jesus and His work on the cross.
Dwight Longenecker’s book The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty is not about romance in the sense of lovers, but rather, the love of beauty and truth in the quest for understanding. The religious romantic questions everything because he wishes to understand. He is on a quest for the hidden treasure for truth and has a map to find it.
God gives us the greatest story ever – one that is actually true. Wielding his linguistic sword, Longenecker appeals to myths, tales, literature, and movies to show the longing in our hearts for goodness, truth, beauty, and justice because they are God given desires. These ultimately point to the greatest truest story of all, displaying the beauty of the gospel – the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He paints a picture showing the cross to be enchanting, delightful, real, and worth fighting for.
Dwight Longenecker is a Catholic priest, but the differences between Protestant and Catholic theologies are not vividly detectable. His explicit understanding of the Gospel shines through toward the latter portion of the book. He presents a defense for the truth of the resurrection and the truth of God’s Word with elegant rationale combined with a passion that moves the reader to take a courageous stand.
I loved this book because it helped me to look at the Bible from a different angle and see just how wild and beautiful God’s story is. He gave me permission to go ahead and love fairy tales and fantasy stories and to see how they point toward the True Story and the adventure of following Jesus.
This book will not appeal to everyone. If you are artistic or a romantic at heart, in love with stories and imagination, or if you wish you were, this book might appeal to you and open your eyes to a new way of seeing the adventurous and crazy journey of following Jesus.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.