If you don’t want to be a Christian this book is not for you. Put it down. If you believe you are a Christian and are satisfied with your grasp of the doctrine of salvation, the role of faith in salvation, personal assurance of salvation and the manner in which your life lines up with your belief system, this book has nothing to offer you. Walk away. There is danger, however, in thinking you are past the point of need for self-examination or for peer-accountability regarding the direction of your life. Since your eternal destination hangs in the balance, the subject matter should be worth your consideration. With these statements Mike McKinley, the pastor of a Baptist congregation, pinpoints the intended audience of Am I Really a Christian: The Most Important Question You’re Not Asking (Crossway, 2011).
Christian jargon can bring more confusion than clarity. McKinley’s perspective of born again is one of regeneration. The regenerating love and mercy of God is the cause of salvation while the fruit of the believer’s life is the result or effect of salvation. Being a Christian goes beyond respect for Jesus to belief and faith in him.
Am I Really a Christian? is scripture rich. McKinley relies heavily on passages of scripture and points readers to them by providing direct quotations within the text. Like John Piper’s Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Crossway, 2010), McKinley compels readers to look past feelings and common Christian expressions to contemplate questions like the following: What do I believe? Do I agree? Does scripture bear out his arguments? How should I respond in light of these truths?
McKinley’s message is to the church. He speaks as a fellow sojourner wanting to guide, encourage and strengthen the faith of believers. He takes care to reassure Christians with sensitive consciences. His pastoral gifting of nurturing and shepherding the faith of others rings true. The author continually brings to the forefront the need for believers to be surrounded by brothers and sisters that can be trusted to come alongside to encourage and guide them as they walk out their faith. As the body of Christ, the goal should be self-evaluation in consultation with trusted mentors in order to seek and find evidence that the cause of our salvation (God’s regenerating love and mercy) has taken root and our lives are beginning to reveal the fruit (effect) of that salvation. To aid in this process, McKinley recommends the formation of year-long one-on-one mentoring relationships.
The format for each chapter is text followed by a How to Respond section containing four points: reflect, repent, remember, and report. The book contains three appendices: Notes, containing sources for in-text references divided by chapter; Subject Index and Scripture Index.
Am I Really a Christian? can be useful to individuals apart from a group environment. It’s best and most complete use will come in the form of small groups of believers within the body of a local congregation. If you are willing to put quality time into self-evaluation in consultation with trusted friends at your local congregation, Am I Really a Christian? is worth your time and attention.
Am I Really a Christian? is currently available as a paperback or ebook via Crossway Publishers or readers can go directly to Amazon.com. West Palm Beach residents may also request this title through the Palm Beach County Library System’s Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service. Please contact your local library for further information regarding ILL.
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