Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

 A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me if I had read Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Actually, I had never heard of the book or Idleman (who is the teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, which is the fifth largest church in America). My friend was telling me how much he really liked it and thought I might as well. So, I ordered the book and read it last week.

I must say, it is a really good book, and a very important book for American Christianity! In the prologue, Idleman begins by sharing his story of realizing that Jesus cared less about the number in the crowd than He did about the level of commitment by those people. This happened for him as he was preparing for Easter when thousands of people would be coming to his church. What would he preach on that would bring the people back? As he studied how Jesus handled the crowds, he realized that Jesus isn't looking for fans but followers. Summarizing the book, he says:
"I hope you will read this book and discover with me what it really means to follow Jesus. I will talk more about repentance than forgiveness, more about surrender than salvation, more about brokenness than happiness, and more about death than about life. The trust is, if you are looking for a book about following Jesus that lays out a comfortable and reassuring path, you won't find it here." (14-5)
From there, Idleman launches into a total call and commitment of one's life if they are going to be followers of Jesus. It reads like John MacArthur's Hard To Believe, but has current modern day humor and culture throughout it. He hits home in so many ways. He begins in chapter one by asking if you have had a DTR conversation with Jesus (DTR = Define The Relationship). Is your relationship with Jesus exclusive or are you trying to have the benefits of a relationship with Him without any commitment to Him. He defines what he means by a fan, "An Enthusiastic Admirer." Some of the most haunting words in the book are these:
"Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Fans who cheer for him when things are going well, but who walk away when its a difficult season. Fans who sit safely in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field. fans of Jesus who know all about him, but they don't know him. But Jesus was never interested in having fans. When he defines what kind of relationship he wants, "Enthusiastic Admirer" isn't an option . . . The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren't actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from." (25)
Throughout the book, he seeks to diagnose what it means to be a fan (by the way, I hope you understand by now, being a fan is not a good thing). He gives several questions throughout the book to help you look into your heart to see if you are a fan.

  1. Have you made a decision for Jesus or have you committed to Jesus? (32)
  2. Do you just know about Jesus, or do you really know Him? (44)
  3. Is Jesus one of many or is He your one and only? (59)
  4. Are you more focused on the outside than the inside? (72)
  5. Are you a self-empowered fan or a Spirit-filled follower? (89)

As I read through this book, I think it could be summarized by this: If the gospel or your salvation has cost you nothing, you are probably a fan, or you should at least evaluate your heart to see if you are a fan. "There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing." (35)

He spends the bulk of the middle of the book dissecting Jesus' words in Luke 9:23: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." I just can't emphasize this enough: His take on the gospel being a hard call of giving our all for all that Jesus is is so needed in our world today! We need this gospel! We need to call people to come to Jesus, deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him. I absolutely loved it!

The only negative I would have with this book is that some of the theology of the traditional Christian Church comes through in some of the examples. For instance, most Christian Churches would believe that baptism is part of the salvation process. And a few of the "not a fan" stories at the end of each chapter spoke of the person being changed as they came up from the waters of baptism.

But saying that, I have ordered several other copies of this book so I can have them around to pass out to people. IT IS THAT GOOD!

Does this sound like a book you might like to read?

9 comments:

  1. I found your blog as a result of a random Kyle Idleman quote search. I followed you on Twitter would love to connect.

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  2. Is this author a Calvinist or reformed pastor? I'm just curious if he is, and if so, does it come through in his teachings? I've heard great things about this book too.

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    1. I am not sure, but would guess that he is somewhat reformed. The book itself was really good, but I found myself not passing out as many books as I had intended because of the message of baptismal regeneration that his church stands in favor of. Still a decent book.

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    2. I am fairly certain that he is a part of the Restoration Movement. His father Ken Idleman was the president of Ozark Christian College for many years.

      I would say that he is not at all reformed.

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    3. David, thanks for the information....I'll have to look into that.

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  3. I got a chance to checkout several weeks of the not a fan study guide at chuch, I must say that it was actually alarming, and not so much inspiring.

    He mentioned multiple times about "visualizing jesus" and conversing with him as if he were physically there, and something about building a literal alter and praying to it, then asking yourself how stupid that is. I mean that's just off the wall and I couldn't find any scriptures to back up this type of behaviour. I'd avoid this type of sermon if I were you. Let's keep it short and simple. Get back to the WORD of God. We can be committed and following Christ without doing hocus pocus! Shalom.

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  4. I hope he's not Reformed.That's NOT Biblical.

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  5. Idleman is not at all reformed, Presby, or Protestant. His theology glares more on the Arminian side. This is most evident in his H2O series. In the first video he tells a story about himself, his brother and wife on vacation, where his brother's wife looses her wedding ring and they spend the night looking for it. Throughout the video he weaves the idea that every human being "thirsts" for God. His whole series hinges on one or two verses, where he only quotes one in the first video. You have to look at the corresponding pamphlet to see a couple other verses that he relates to this vid. Near the end of the vid., he quotes, John 7:37, the first half as his proof text. No exegetical explanation is ever offered to this text. The funny thing is the scriptures give the interpretation of this verse in the very following verses! The whole context of the video is that everyone thirsts and is trying to quench it with worldly things and they need God to quench this thirst. In other words, God has provided the means to fulfill what you need and you must go to Jesus to get it. The Arminian gospel... God has made salvation available and it's up to you to choose/accept/make Him lord/or let God fill that "hole in your heart" Although he does mention sin and the ten commandments in other videos, it's almost done in passing and he softens it considerably. There is a lot of practical advice in many of his books however, they rest at the surface level and lack scriptural authority, revealing a focus on felt-needs. His presentation of the gospel and his hermeneutical methods leads to a false gospel that can not be substantiated with proper Biblical exegesis of scripture. This is a sad thing to say but, such gospel presentations are commonplace in American 'culture' and sound so good as to be very pleasing to a vast majority of people.

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    1. I agree that he is not reformed after more study on his ministry. But let's be careful saying a non-reformed person is not a protestant person. That's very dangerous.

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