Who would Jesus hate? Tom Krattenmaker poses this question in his poignant and timely book, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus For Those Who Don’t Believe.
Krattenmaker asks the “WWJH” question in response to today’s tense and vitriolic political climate wherein the “others” are often vilified. Lots of Christians wonder what Jesus would do in a particular situation, but Tom isn’t a Christian. He calls himself a secular Jesus follower.
Despite the title, this book is not just for unbelievers, in fact, I hope all of my Christian friends read it. Tom unpacks and reimagines Scripture, specifically the life and words of Jesus, in a way that refreshes familiar stories. While Krattenmaker is simply putting words to his own philosophy, he provides the reader with a way to follow Jesus as a mentor instead of (or in addition to) a Savior.
When I interviewed Tom about his book I told him he should’ve called it A Manual on How to Not Be a Jerk. Admittedly, his title has more of a ring than mine, but the point remains. This book teaches how we can all be better humans. Krattenmaker uses Jesus’s example to approach tricky issues like divorce, pornography, and racism. In so doing, he reveals how the teachings of Jesus can (and should!) be used today.
The author asks questions that stopped me in my tracks. What if generosity was your default response? Who are our “neighbors”? And the aforementioned, “who would Jesus hate?” The better question, Tom argues, is what would Jesus hate, and the answer is bigotry, xenophobia, greed, and sexism.
Krattenmaker describes what he calls the “radical hospitality” wherein we are called to treat even our worst enemies with dignity, kindness, and love. Tom echoes the calls from Jesus for us to love all, and reminds us that anyone can love the nice, beautiful, and familiar people, but what a magical thing it is when you can show kindness to your enemies.
I love that this book is not a hippie-dippie-kumbaya-fest. He acknowledges how very human it is to be selfish. By using the lens of the human condition, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower applies the story of Jesus to everyone.
I can’t recommend this book more heartily. I have perhaps never read a book with which I so strongly connect. While Tom’s book is easy to read and accessible to all, the challenge that he poses is nearly impossible: follow Jesus. This book will inspire you, whether you’re a believer or not, to act as Jesus did (which is really freaking hard to do).