A blogger and Christian scholar investigates how spirituality manifests itself in our physical selves.
Some Christians speak of being prisoners in imperfect, earthly bodies from which they will escape through death, but Anderson’s first book gently chides what he claims to be “Gnostic tendencies” and de-emphasis of the human body’s importance in Christianity. Not written for the masses—the author assumes his audience knows evangelicalism—Anderson utilizes Paul’s teachings to blend mountains of academic, theological and philosophical references with anecdotes. He makes many sound points, such as how the body of Christ—the church—should not turn services into either robotic liturgies or productions with smoke machines and carefully orchestrated schedules. Unfortunately, generalizing Christians leaves a hole in his argument wide enough for a plague of locusts, and it is unclear how Anderson’s assertions about evangelical “Gnosticism” differ from what is being preached in thousands of pulpits each week. He is anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia; he is wary of yoga’s increasing popularity; he urges deep reading of scripture, prayer and genuine fasting; and though he emphasizes love and acceptance of homosexuals, he notes that the lifestyle does not harmonize with scripture. The author also warns that evangelicals too often follow social trends, like tattoos, piercing or fitness crazes. Anderson’s approach is not “hellfire and brimstone” but academic to the point of thumb twiddling. A tighter scope may have strengthened his thesis, but his gospel message rings through.Not for the general reader, but good debate fuel for pastors, theologians and seminary students.