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Flawed thinking ultimately makes you ... a worse human being
on 26 November 2013
Tomlinson comes across in this book as a warm, caring and deeply compassionate man, and I have absolutely no doubt that he is just that. However, like many Christians desperately trying to be liberal and inclusive, he posits an impossibility by wishing that all religions are equally valid. Unfortunately, however hard you wish for an impossibility it remains an impossibility. Taking such a position results in a mental stress that ultimately produces not tolerant but extremely intolerant people.
Tomlinson loves the people he finds in the pub who don't go to church, he loves Muslims, he loves atheists. And so he should. But he admits in the book that he flies into a rage at anybody who doesn't agree with his inclusive views, and he certainly encourages the reader to look down on pious Christians.
Why is Tomlinson trying to believe an impossibility? As C.S. Lewis has said, Jesus is either who he claimed to be, or a madman, or something much worse. It is simple nonsense, as Tomlinson does, to place him in a line of other great moral teachers. Not once in the book does Tomlinson acknowledge Jesus as the incarnate only son of God.
Tomlinson is a nice guy, and appears to believe that if everybody was kind to each other, we'll have heaven on Earth. It's a lovely if not original thought but it isn't going to happen. People, all people, are flawed. They cheat, they lie, they're selfish, they're mean. Not all the time, of course, but frequently enough to make the world the mess it is. This includes Christians, and it includes Tomlinson's so-called 'bad' Christians. And Muslims. And Atheists. This is what we know from experience. This is why we need Christ.
Of course, Tomlinson is entitled to his opinion, however nonsensical it is, and if it weren't for the fact that taking such a stance ultimately produces confused, angry and intolerant people, it wouldn't matter. Tomlinson is also a clergyman, and I don't think he should be peddling this nonsense. Should he not be preaching Christianity? I know he means well, but that won't remove the harm his views will ultimately cause. People who read this book could initially be helped. They'll get a warm fuzzy feeling. But when reality hits - as it certainly will - when a tragedy happens, or somebody does something really mean to them, or has prejudiced views, they'll be in a worse position. Angry at God, angry at people and angry at the world.
Christianity calls us to love our neighbour, and that includes people of other religions and no religion. Nothing in Christianity stops us respecting other faiths. But we don't have to rewrite the Gospels to do this. Christianity has an amazing, life-affirming message, which you'll find in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But you won't find it in the gospel according to Dave Tomlinson.
PS - I'm sorry this is such a harsh review. I really believe the author is a good man but he is very badly mistaken and I believe his confused, illogical views are very unhelpful.