Book Review: "How to be a Bad Christian ... And a Better Human Being"

Book Review: “How to be a bad Christian … And a better human being” by Dave Tomlinson (2012) Hodder & Stoughton. (Available to borrow from St Helen’s Church lending shelf).

Yes, you did read the title correctly! Dave Tomlinson, vicar of St Luke’s, Holloway in London, has written “How to be a bad Christian …” as a guide to Christianity “for those who struggle with traditional religion, showing that it’s really very easy to be a Christian – especially a “bad” one!”

Although a vicar, Tomlinson declares himself to be a bad Christian, full of questions, doubts and despair, often feeling more at home in a pub than in many churches, and his book is peppered with anecdotes, from Fast Eddie’s funeral to Frank the security guard’s confessional in an HMV store. Yet although he cannot believe that God divides the world between churchgoers and non-churchgoers, believers or non-believers, Tomlinson is adamant that there are good reasons to be part of a church community. The Church, he says, exists to be a living breathing demonstration of the beloved community, to be a place of unconditional acceptance and equal opportunity, where diversity is celebrated and where anyone and everyone can be at home in the love of God. To Jesus, “church” was a verb rather than a noun, an experience rather than an institution. Jesus “did” church; wherever he was, beloved community sprang up around him. At the centre of his message was the kingdom of God – “a vision of what the world would be like if God were king instead of the authorities and politicians. It’s a vision of justice, love and reconciliation, a culture of hope and freedom”. The Church is not made up of perfect human beings, but is“a gathering of broken people seeking to become whole – but seeking wholeness together, rather than alone”. Will you come and join us?

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