David Bergsland neither contacted me nor does he know me. In order to be honest, he reviewed our book Antidisestablishmentarianism, a book as long as 3 or 4 doctoral dissertations. For that I feel a great moral obligation to review not just one, but several of David Bergsland’s book. This influence, though considerable, is the only influence he has over me.
To begin, the topic is after my own heart, though I am writing on other topics and have no time for this subject. David Bergsland has biographical information on twitter, Amazon and Smashwords. He has a facebook page and blog as well as a twitter account.
As someone who writes massive books, I greatly appreciate a smaller work that I can read in less than an afternoon. Ten different English translations of the Word of God are used and properly documented.
The opening chapter states; “The way the church teaches, the gate is not very narrow. There are several common practices in the modern church that seem to provide a wide open gate. But it is an illusion. That gate is narrow.” He supports this position with Scripture.
Though he is not a Baptist, he takes the Baptist position on Baptism. “Baptism is not a magic act of power. It is the result of an adult decision.” He also says, “there is no evidence that baptism provides salvation, it is a ceremonial event of public proclamation and a ritual of cleansing.”
“If you have any personal concerns about whether your baptism was real or not, get dunked-as in fully immersed-as an adult.”
This next issue he brings up I personally believe has destroyed the modern Church in America and England. “How many people do you know who came down front to an altar call (especially at a large crusade), prayed the sinner’s prayer, and nothing happened?”
“The most common figures are that somewhere between 6% and 10% of people who come down for an altar call become church members.
As we will talk about in a bit, becoming a church member has little to do with entering the Kingdom of God. There are no statistics about true conversions resulting from an altar call. It may be only a percent or two.”
My concern is that most of these “altar calls” actually inoculate against the gospel. I do not see David Bergsland drawing this conclusion. It is my own.
“I’m not sure what to do with this modern phenomenon [of mega-churches]. I’ve never been a part of one which truly preached the Gospel.” I can truly amen that statement.
“The megachurches I’ve attended were major problems and more like a cancerous tumor than healthy growth.”
“The only megachurch is scripture was the church at Jerusalem and God scattered that one.”
David Bergsland then changes to God’s standards, not our mistaken beliefs. “The gate is quite a bit narrower than we are commonly taught.”
As David Bergsland points out, we do not want to hear “Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” Because “many will seek to enter and will not be able.”
The horrifying part is “This is a limited time offer,” to use a modern advertising slogan. As David Bergsland points out, that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the Church age will end. And what happens next will have little resemblance to the Left Behind series.
Jesus had the most problems with “the heavily involved, defenders of doctrine, self-righteous hypocrites” who go to church constantly, “helping to set policy, zealously watching for infractions, and running the church.”
The next great sin engulfing the American Church is lawlessness. David Bergsland uses pages of examples to back up his belief that the modern American church will both welcome and help to usher in the government of the Anti-Christ.
David Bergsland next deals with the problem of knowing the information of the Scriptures without knowing God or having the power of God. This builds on the earlier points and is the core of the book.
He also extends the Biblical parallel of the family. That is how we instruct children and how God instructs us.
The Scriptures, music, worship, communion, community interaction and fellowship can all be used to replace, as substitutes for the true relationship with Christ Jesus.
Probably the most important point is that “This type of relationship takes time.” The baby/parent relationship is “good for the baby-not so good for the parent.”
The last section of this book is a number of very helpful illustrations and person experiences.
It is a very short, easy read on a very important topic. You can easily read this in less time than a morning Church Service. I highly recommend this. It certainly stands out among modern Christian books which are, for the most part, not worth reading.