The Barbarian Way (book review)

With so many to follow or listen to, Erwin McManus is one of the select few pastors I tune into on a regular basis. I was never really sure what it is about Erwin that so resonates with me until I read The Barbarian Way. Now I have a reason for what I’ve always felt: I’m a barbarian too.

Religion bores me.

Religious people are de-motivating.

Denominations spend too much time with the already-churched.

Civilized Christianity is unremarkable.

Keying in on the life of John The Baptizer, Erwin takes an entirely different tact. John was so out of the religious mainstream: a long-haired, weird dresser who lived in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey, and preaching about Jesus. And, by the way, his ministry drew both the seeker and the civilized God-follower.

The seekers were both fascinated and motivated by John’s message. The religious were repulsed at the barbarity of John’s call to repentance. It was the same with Jesus’ ministry: the seekers were energized and liberated by Christ’s words; the religious were incensed.

What about me? Are my message and lifestyle barbaric enough to resonate with those seeking a relationship with Christ? Does it draw them into that relationship? Or do I live so tamed and civilized that only the religious people like my lifestyle?

Here’s how Erwin puts it:

“Civility focuses our energy on all the wrong places. We spend our lives emphasizing our personal development and spiritual well-being. We build churches that become nothing more than hiding places for the faithful while pretending that our actions are for the good of the world. … It may seem counterintuitive, but the more civilized we seem to become, the more detached from the pain of others we end up finding ourselves. The most civilized churches have really no practical concern for people outside their congregations. The brokenness of a lost and unbelieving world is not enough to inspire the painful changes necessary to make the church relevant to the world in which we live.”

I love the barbarian way of living. The Barbarian Way simply put words to what my heart was already crying out.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

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