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In this provocative book, pastor John avant encourages readers to uphold a consistent practice of what they believe, not just a verbalization of what they believe. If Christians truly believe in God, they should live genuinely changed lives as the ultimate proof that He is real.

Many Christians live their lives as if they do not believe in God. They go to church and praise His name on Sundays, but in their daily lives they don’t think about the Lord that often. They don’t show much concern or charity for others. They don’t feel gratitude to the Lord for His blessings. They don’t allow God’s love to be reflected in their actions—giving Christianity a bad name in the process. In their practical, day-to-day lives, many Christians are almost living as though they are atheists.

Pastor Avant witnesses many Christians not living up to their claims, and he asserts that there is not much Christ left in that form of Christianity. In If God Were Real, he challenges Christians to consider whether or not they believe in God. If they do, Pastor Avant wants readers to consider what life would be like if they lived as if they believed in God. He advocates for the pursuit of a new Jesus movement that resembles Christ’s original followers—followers who were so steadfastly devoted to Him that their every action reflected His glory. With If God Were Real, readers will embark on an adventure of discovery of the real God and a life lived in praise of Him.
Published: Howard Books on
ISBN: 9781439100851
List price: $10.99
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I'm certainly not the target audience for this book. I do not believe in God, and find most religions hypocritical. Even with this in mind, this book was just poorly written and constructed. It attempted too much, and accomplished very little.more
I think If God Were Real made a lot of good points about how the behavior of Christians and atheists are virtually indistinguishable, and how the Church is outdated and not needed anymore, and what Christians could do to live as if God were real. Not all of his points, however, are fully realized and I think the book runs into the problem that I see with a lot of Christian books, that it has a tendency to talk down to non-Christians, especially athiests, although not to the extent that many Christian books do. In the end I found If God Were Real to be quite enjoyable and made me think.more
This was a difficult book for me to read. Emphasis: It was a difficult book for ME to read. The language, the style of writing -- I had no problem with those. It was the conviction I felt as I read that made it hard for me to keep reading. I had to read a bit, then set the book down to digest what I had read before I could pick it up again.I can understand the mixed reviews on the book. I think it will appeal to those who find in it a call from God for change in one's personal application of faith, but will be non-appealing -- perhaps even an affront -- to those who don't see the challenge presented by Avant as applying to themselves.more
Overall, I was disappointed in this book. It made a few good points, but the points weren't developed into good, strong arguments. The arguments were weak, and ultimately, unconvincing. The anecdotal support for each argument was not consistently strong, or even on point. This book reads like a good idea that was rushed into print before the true power of the idea could be fully realized and presented to the reader.more
What a good and timely book! This book is wonderful in that it does not necessarily tell the reader what he wants to her, but definitely what he needs to hear. The book is a challenge to Christians to begin to live for the real God, rather than for the system christianity has become. It is also an apology to our surrounding culture (atheists included) for not demonstrating the wonder of God's love in place of intolerant politicizing. The two biblical things constantly on my mind throughout the book were 1. Paul's concept of the remnant (see Romans 9-11) and 2. Elijah being very frustrated that he was the only one that served God, and God reminding him that he always keeps a remnant of true believers. God followers do seem to be pulling away from the parts of the church that no longer representative of Christ. McLaren and others are also recognizing the cancer in the church and are rejecting it in favor of God's calling and mission. Avant suggests that the Church (capital 'C', those who share God's heart) is different from the church (lowercase 'c', those who are a part of the system of christianity). For those of us who are tired of the church spiralling into moralism and culturally bound conservativism, we will find a comforting and familiar voice in Avant's book. My hope is that many in the christian system who have mistaken God's mission of love for conservativism and moralism will read this book and awaken to God's heart. And finally, Avant seems to enjoy conversing with atheists, because they share a dissatisfaction of the evil that has come into the church. While the book attempts to address the concerns of the atheist, i believe that an atheist would have much more reason to believe in God through a relationship with Avant (or someone like him) than they would through reading this book and the cursory treatment of the reasons for the existence of God.more
This is an accessible book for lay members, unpacking how we need a consistent ethic of Christian living. Christ followers should look like Christ. He draws from a varied group of Protestant sources, including Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson. One would do well using this book to pick up on his primary sources. A few of his personal stories also wind up being great illustrations. My hope would be that if the average Christian picked up the book, they'd be committed enough to finish it. However, as a pastor who thinks about these things constantly, I found myself nodding in agreement often, but not taking notes of anything new. All said, we'd have some fun being in the same room, and I'm sure he'd draw out some of his points in more detail. Oh, and get rid of the "contemporary" font chapter headings. What's the point except to annoy?more
Unfortunately, for me the first four chapters were a slow read; I actually did some cursory reading of a few pages here and there. It seemed, at first, to rehash complaints made in other books about the Church's failure to make an impact in our culture in fulfilling her divine commission and his argument drags. However, trudging half of the fifth chapter, Avant finally gives the good stuff beginning on page 113. I have also come to the same conclusion as Avant when he says, "Our untransformed lives demonstrate a pattern on unbelief..." He succinctly states the "pattern of unbelief" in three areas, which I have found to be true: We don't believe in God's mission, God's discipline, and God's goodness. Pages 113-117 are the most important in the book. His remedy: the pursuit of holiness. "If we really believed God is real, what would we do? We'd start by pursuing holiness." And, further on, he prescribes revival as the the need of the Church in order to halt her downward spiral.Although, I find a few more slow parts in remaining chapters, he has some really good observations. As I first begain to read the book, I had some reservations about his way of analyzing the problem within the Church, which boils down to, as he says it, "We may believe that [God] is real...we just don't live like he is" (p.4). One concern I had was that he seemed to be blaming the the concept of the "local church" and not people; he seemed to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. However, he dispelled my concern when he states that "we need the local church." It is what we have done to the local church, to the church as an institution in the first place, that disturbs Avant.One specific complaint I have about the book is when, in a chapter devoted primarily to atheists, Avant asserts that "being 'lost' is not a character flaw." I believe that the Biblical concept of being "lost" is portrayed as separation from God, which separation is a consequence of sin, that is, the moral failure to meet God's standard of righteousness. Men are lost - separated from God - not by accident but because they hate the Light and refuse to come to the Light (cf. John 3:20). Avant seems to look at only the parables to define what it means to be lost rather than the many other verses that speak of man's condition.Although I cannot say this book offers any new insights and he seems, from my perspective, to attempt to prove his point by adding exaggerated compliments to atheists in order to assauge any hurt feelings towards the unbelievers reading his book who may have been offended by the Church, I think it's worth a read as certain points are well taken; at least, pages 113-138, 155-158, 190, and 206-208 make a significant contribution to the debate over the Church's spiritual and moral condition.more
I received this book as an early review copy. Whether you are religious or not, and no matter what religion (if any) you choose to follow, John Avant's message is one we should all pay attention to. Throughout the book, his main point is that we need to start caring more about each other, no matter what color, religion, or economic background we come from. The author addresses the fact that most Christians do not follow Christ's path. People go to church as a routine but they don't live their lives any differently than those who don't go to church. There is no doubt that Avant believes strongly in God, Jesus, and the Bible. But he quite honestly (and commendably) admits that our current churches are not working. Religion is becoming a business.I don't think that Avant is going to turn any nonbelievers into believers. His arguments are not that strong or that original. He chooses his Bible quotes carefully and does not address things in the Bible that nonbelievers struggle with. However, believer or not, his message is one we should all learn from. Living a little more like Jesus, whether you believe he was real or not, isn't such a bad idea.more
Read all 10 reviews

Reviews

I'm certainly not the target audience for this book. I do not believe in God, and find most religions hypocritical. Even with this in mind, this book was just poorly written and constructed. It attempted too much, and accomplished very little.more
I think If God Were Real made a lot of good points about how the behavior of Christians and atheists are virtually indistinguishable, and how the Church is outdated and not needed anymore, and what Christians could do to live as if God were real. Not all of his points, however, are fully realized and I think the book runs into the problem that I see with a lot of Christian books, that it has a tendency to talk down to non-Christians, especially athiests, although not to the extent that many Christian books do. In the end I found If God Were Real to be quite enjoyable and made me think.more
This was a difficult book for me to read. Emphasis: It was a difficult book for ME to read. The language, the style of writing -- I had no problem with those. It was the conviction I felt as I read that made it hard for me to keep reading. I had to read a bit, then set the book down to digest what I had read before I could pick it up again.I can understand the mixed reviews on the book. I think it will appeal to those who find in it a call from God for change in one's personal application of faith, but will be non-appealing -- perhaps even an affront -- to those who don't see the challenge presented by Avant as applying to themselves.more
Overall, I was disappointed in this book. It made a few good points, but the points weren't developed into good, strong arguments. The arguments were weak, and ultimately, unconvincing. The anecdotal support for each argument was not consistently strong, or even on point. This book reads like a good idea that was rushed into print before the true power of the idea could be fully realized and presented to the reader.more
What a good and timely book! This book is wonderful in that it does not necessarily tell the reader what he wants to her, but definitely what he needs to hear. The book is a challenge to Christians to begin to live for the real God, rather than for the system christianity has become. It is also an apology to our surrounding culture (atheists included) for not demonstrating the wonder of God's love in place of intolerant politicizing. The two biblical things constantly on my mind throughout the book were 1. Paul's concept of the remnant (see Romans 9-11) and 2. Elijah being very frustrated that he was the only one that served God, and God reminding him that he always keeps a remnant of true believers. God followers do seem to be pulling away from the parts of the church that no longer representative of Christ. McLaren and others are also recognizing the cancer in the church and are rejecting it in favor of God's calling and mission. Avant suggests that the Church (capital 'C', those who share God's heart) is different from the church (lowercase 'c', those who are a part of the system of christianity). For those of us who are tired of the church spiralling into moralism and culturally bound conservativism, we will find a comforting and familiar voice in Avant's book. My hope is that many in the christian system who have mistaken God's mission of love for conservativism and moralism will read this book and awaken to God's heart. And finally, Avant seems to enjoy conversing with atheists, because they share a dissatisfaction of the evil that has come into the church. While the book attempts to address the concerns of the atheist, i believe that an atheist would have much more reason to believe in God through a relationship with Avant (or someone like him) than they would through reading this book and the cursory treatment of the reasons for the existence of God.more
This is an accessible book for lay members, unpacking how we need a consistent ethic of Christian living. Christ followers should look like Christ. He draws from a varied group of Protestant sources, including Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson. One would do well using this book to pick up on his primary sources. A few of his personal stories also wind up being great illustrations. My hope would be that if the average Christian picked up the book, they'd be committed enough to finish it. However, as a pastor who thinks about these things constantly, I found myself nodding in agreement often, but not taking notes of anything new. All said, we'd have some fun being in the same room, and I'm sure he'd draw out some of his points in more detail. Oh, and get rid of the "contemporary" font chapter headings. What's the point except to annoy?more
Unfortunately, for me the first four chapters were a slow read; I actually did some cursory reading of a few pages here and there. It seemed, at first, to rehash complaints made in other books about the Church's failure to make an impact in our culture in fulfilling her divine commission and his argument drags. However, trudging half of the fifth chapter, Avant finally gives the good stuff beginning on page 113. I have also come to the same conclusion as Avant when he says, "Our untransformed lives demonstrate a pattern on unbelief..." He succinctly states the "pattern of unbelief" in three areas, which I have found to be true: We don't believe in God's mission, God's discipline, and God's goodness. Pages 113-117 are the most important in the book. His remedy: the pursuit of holiness. "If we really believed God is real, what would we do? We'd start by pursuing holiness." And, further on, he prescribes revival as the the need of the Church in order to halt her downward spiral.Although, I find a few more slow parts in remaining chapters, he has some really good observations. As I first begain to read the book, I had some reservations about his way of analyzing the problem within the Church, which boils down to, as he says it, "We may believe that [God] is real...we just don't live like he is" (p.4). One concern I had was that he seemed to be blaming the the concept of the "local church" and not people; he seemed to be throwing out the baby with the bath water. However, he dispelled my concern when he states that "we need the local church." It is what we have done to the local church, to the church as an institution in the first place, that disturbs Avant.One specific complaint I have about the book is when, in a chapter devoted primarily to atheists, Avant asserts that "being 'lost' is not a character flaw." I believe that the Biblical concept of being "lost" is portrayed as separation from God, which separation is a consequence of sin, that is, the moral failure to meet God's standard of righteousness. Men are lost - separated from God - not by accident but because they hate the Light and refuse to come to the Light (cf. John 3:20). Avant seems to look at only the parables to define what it means to be lost rather than the many other verses that speak of man's condition.Although I cannot say this book offers any new insights and he seems, from my perspective, to attempt to prove his point by adding exaggerated compliments to atheists in order to assauge any hurt feelings towards the unbelievers reading his book who may have been offended by the Church, I think it's worth a read as certain points are well taken; at least, pages 113-138, 155-158, 190, and 206-208 make a significant contribution to the debate over the Church's spiritual and moral condition.more
I received this book as an early review copy. Whether you are religious or not, and no matter what religion (if any) you choose to follow, John Avant's message is one we should all pay attention to. Throughout the book, his main point is that we need to start caring more about each other, no matter what color, religion, or economic background we come from. The author addresses the fact that most Christians do not follow Christ's path. People go to church as a routine but they don't live their lives any differently than those who don't go to church. There is no doubt that Avant believes strongly in God, Jesus, and the Bible. But he quite honestly (and commendably) admits that our current churches are not working. Religion is becoming a business.I don't think that Avant is going to turn any nonbelievers into believers. His arguments are not that strong or that original. He chooses his Bible quotes carefully and does not address things in the Bible that nonbelievers struggle with. However, believer or not, his message is one we should all learn from. Living a little more like Jesus, whether you believe he was real or not, isn't such a bad idea.more
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