What do we do when the church looks nothing like Jesus?
Many followers of Jesus feel disillusioned by a broken religion—one that loves political power, promises prosperity, and feeds on fear. We are desperately trying to rationalize how a loving God can be connected to unloving churches, institutions, and people. We can no longer deny that our version of Christianity is not just imperfect but has been coopted to inflict violence, racism, abuse, hate, and even death. The question before many Christians is no longer how their faith can survive within a secular culture. It’s how their faith can survive Christianity itself.
In The Great Reckoning, writer Stephen Mattson writes out of the rubble of the failed American faith. Instead of doomsaying or casting aspersions, however, Mattson offers hope for seekers looking for inspiration, solace for Christians fed up with an unsatisfying religion, and clarity for those sifting through the remains. The Great Reckoning is a clear-eyed yet tender critique of where we’ve gone wrong, and a guide away from the culture wars and toward the life of Jesus.
Rather than further immersing ourselves in Christendom, what if we started rethinking what it means to be a Christian in the first place? What if Christians shed the hopes and dreams of Christianity and turned instead of the Christ at the center of our faith?
Consider this a dispatch from the wreckage of American cultural Christianity, and an ode to the Jesus-looking faith we seek.
“Stephen Mattson has a finger on the pulse of current cultural climate and also demonstrates robust theological acumen. His writing consistently draws us to keep the main thing the main thing: Jesus. Love. Resistance. I’m thankful for Mattson’s clear and prophetic voice.”Cindy Wang Brandt, author of Parenting Forward, Reviews
<p>“In the most recent census, 30 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents marked ‘none’ under religious affiliation. There is growing evidence that the majority of these young people are not alienated from Jesus—merely from the church. <i>The Great Reckoning</i> is useful for offering an alternative way of approaching Christian faith that will appeal to many who are unhappy with Christendom but hungry for Christ. Stephen Mattson raises important and provocative questions for believers to consider.”</p>Alexia Salvatierra, author of Faith-Rooted Organizing, Reviews
<p>“Stephen Mattson is doing important work here. He is entering the cumbersome layers of time, tradition, and dogma and excavating Jesus from beneath them. He doesn’t deny the real ugliness of Christianity’s recent past, but he uncovers the more beautiful truth of what it first meant to follow Jesus—and he does so with wisdom, honesty, and compassion. <i>The Great Reckoning</p> will be a wonderful companion for those on the journey of losing religion and finding faith.”</p>John Pavlovitz, author of A Bigger Table, Reviews
<p>“The Trump era has convinced many people of what they’ve long expected: the Christian faith has been hijacked. Political agendas, corrupt institutions, culture wars, and hypocrisy have poisoned a religion struggling to emulate the person of Jesus. In <i>The Great Reckoning</i>, writer Stephen Mattson navigates the difference between Christendom and Christ, and offers a way back toward the latter.”</p>Benjamin Corey, author of Unafraid and Undiluted, Reviews
<p>“All I can say after reading <i>The Great Reckoning</i> is ouch! But what a good, necessary, godly, beautiful, Lord-I-needed-this-badly kind of ouch it was! Thank you, Stephen Mattson, for not just calling out the mess, but offering a way out of it. You left me inspired, shaken, and convicted into action. And now is my turn to walk the way of Christ the way Christ intended it to be walked.”</p>Carlos A. Rodriguez, author of Drop the Stones and founder of HappySonship.com, Reviews
<p>“From this important book we glean this word: instead of leaning into a failing American Christianity that has always oppressed, we lean into Christ.”</p>Kaitlin Curtice, activist and author of Glory Happening, from forward, Reviews