A few weeks ago I was given the unexpected opportunity to get a free audiobook for an *official* book review. I was certain they asked the wrong person. Who would want my take? But, of course I said yes (I’m never going to turn down a free book).
At first I wasn’t sure that Christianity Without Dogma would be able to encompass issues felt by all Christian denominations. The beginning of the book positioned itself discussioning Christianity as a whole, and focused on American Christianity. Specifically, as a Catholic, I wondered if this book would speak to me. The Catholic Church has a host of issues, many of them shared by other branches of Christianity, but some unique to the Holy See herself.
This book certainly delivered on its premise. I think one of the reasons Christianity Without Dogma works so well is that the author, as he points out, is not a theologian nor an academic. Therefore, he is not writing from any specific theological background; instead his message is to the universal Church, what the author calls “Christianity, Inc.” The business-oriented lens is at the heart of the message of the book. It is a fresh perspective that moves past theological debates to a more fundamental one: how can we look to Jesus without the baggage of two millennia of dogma, tradition, and doctrine?
The author, Jack Bergstrand, positioned himself similarly to a business consultant: someone called in when a business is failing and needs outside help. He explained that that is why his perspective is not only new, but desperately needed now. Theologians and academics of a particular religious affiliation, are no different than CEOs and CFOs of a company who cannot always separate themselves from the problem to fix it. Jack is Christian, but his background in business is more helpful I think to the conversation than his personal beliefs.
Christianity Without Dogma describes itself as a book for those who are going through a “deconstruction” of their faith. I was new to this concept of deconstructing, but this lens is a fresh place to take a step back at look at one’s faith with a shifted growth-mindset perspective. Christianity Without Dogma does not do the deconstructing for the reader and it does not encourage readers to leave the faith, but instead works on how to reframe individual’s role in the Church to help it transform into a faith more in line with its non-dogmatic founder, Jesus Christ.
Since reading this book I have stumbled upon other deconstructing and reconstructing Instagram accounts (@okcatholics, @reconstructingcatholic, @femcatholic, @cublorg (Catholics United for Black Lives), & @the_uninfluenced_catholic) and various publications. Apparently I had be de/reconstructing all along without realizing it. All in all, I highly recommend this book to any Christian, of any denomination and at any stage of deconstruction or reconstructing. Your personal perspective will be transformed.