Skip to main content

Saving Casper





Saving Casper: A Christian and an Atheist Talk about Why We Need to Change the Conversion Conversation by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper

Many readers will quickly know the authors of this book from their previous release Jim and Casper Go to Church.  Jim and Matt’s new book entitled Saving Casper focuses on the way we talk about conversion in the church and the devastating ways we have pushed away atheists and other non-believers by our posture.  Both Jim and Matt traversed the national landscape, meeting in churches and asking hard questions about faith, conversion, and life. The basic premise of the book and travel is laid out here in their words, “Part of what Casper and I are trying to achieve when we speak to a group of Christians is to help people move a little bit on their “judgment meter.”  This capacity, while intellectually and often theologically uncomfortable, provides a way to stay connected with people who are supposedly our ideological enemies.” (92-93)  One lady even asked Casper how to save a church after she grew to like him in many ways.  This book is a real eye-opener in many ways because it brings out the worst in many believers’ attitudes towards atheists but also posits that there is a huge amount of room for connection.

Matt says at one point, “In my opinion, the church needs to go out to the people honesty and sincerely, saying, “What can we do for you?” What’s so hard about that?  It gives the church what they want too: an audience with the unchurched and anyone outside their own church walls.” (119)  The aggressive, domineering, you’re going to hell attitude does not bring about long term relationships and foster communication.  I would also add that providing cultural goods (rock band, stage lights, showy stage presence) because that’s what the church thinks will bring people in often misses the boat too.  Serving others, showing compassion are two of the twin pillars that Matt deems high on the list of connecting believers to atheists and furthering the conversation. 

What I enjoyed also about the book is the way that Matt talked about the relationship between the extreme anti-theists (Dawkins, etc.) and the aggressive believers who taunted and baited Matt in his travels with Jim.  Both sets of groups use anger, vitriol, and pejorative language to belittle the opposite side in an argument or conversation.  Matt boils it down to certainty saying, “The problem I have with some atheists is the same problem I have with some Christians: certainty.  You can’t unequivocally prove your beliefs, so c’mon, take it easy.” (101)  Claiming that the other side of the debate is fully without merit or truth is a recipe for no conversation at all to take place.  Instead, realizing that both belief systems require a certain set of assumptions and then building conversation based upon a shared understanding is more important than ramrodding a person.  Matt is quick to point out that making the connection with people, seeking to listen more than fill the void, is a powerful way to gro

I would add that Matt and Jim’s understanding of how to relate to people of different belief systems is consistent with an understanding that people are made in God’s image.  This image includes rationality, emotion, and wisdom.  Effective communication and growth between two people naturally takes place in the respect and compassion they yield to one another.  Compassion for others of differing views comes into being as we see people for their special status in the way that they were made.


Thanks to Tyndale Momentum/Publishers for the copy of this book in exchange for review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…