In an era where doubt is hot and postmodern individualism rules, it’s refreshing to look to a fresh lens of theology. In a time when the church seems obsessed with being either relevant or purpose driven, Mark Stenberg’s 51% Christianity: Finding Faith after Certainty chose a third way: freedom. This book’s different from the set of propositions usually defining ones theology. Stenberg not only challenges his readers to read the Bible’s grand story backwards, surrounds himself with theologians like Karl Barth and Søren Kierkegaard, to a fictional sequel to Saint Brendan‘s voyage or a socratic dialogue between a Religion Lover and Religion Skeptic, helped by Sophia.
God is not an idea. Ancient Hebrews didn’t sit around and argue about whether or not God exists. Their God, Yahweh, is reckless, passionate, empathic, and eminently relational. Somehow as Christians we are as forgetful as the Hebrews in the Old Testament. Acts 2, where God was adding members to the church on a daily basis because of loving the others, and a free flow of His Spirit, was not lasting. And yet, God loves us, he offers us grace and is longing for a relationship. Faith is about relationship: a living, daily relationship, based on trust, and active in concrete, daily practices. Through this liberating, entirely relational lens, the author dares to touch upon topics like Trinity, sin, the need to de-Greekify God, heaven, and the last judgement, and the church’s relevance.
We need both the first-order event of divine revelation and the second-order discipline of theology. All believers are theologians. So what’s your safety net when you have to let go of everything? Is there faith after you debunked myths and convictions that turn out to be irrelevant and non-biblical? 51% Christian is dead serious, yet playful and liberating.
About the author
Mark Stenberg is a founding pastor of two innovative, emerging churches: House of Mercy Church in St. Paul, Minnesota and Mercy Seat Lutheran Church in Northeast Minneapolis. He holds a PhD from Northwestern University and regularly teaches preaching practicums at Luther Seminary.