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Lord, Save us from Your Followers

April 10, 2008

Dan Merchant, author of Lord, Save Us from Your Followers, has sought to collapse ideological division in the U.S. by wearing a jumpsuit covered with aphoristic bumper stickers and traveling the country to capture public response. He intentionally selected conflicting bumper stickers in order to stimulate discussion about these important issues—issues of love, truth, justice, compassion, right and wrong—a great idea! Merchant claims that the followers of Jesus have departed from Jesus’ essential message—“love one another.” This is true. Too often Christians are known for their fundamentalist beliefs, not their love-filled actions.

However, to affirm the truth of the disparity between Jesus’ message and Jesus’ followers is to also assume that truth exists, that it is possible to evaluate history, belief, and behavior based on rightness and wrongness. Therefore, we do well to be truthful about Jesus’ message, which also included “Love God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength.” On both accounts, loving God and loving neighbor, everyone falls short. Who consistently loves others and God? This highlights the need for Jesus’ solution to our failures in love—his substitutionary death for our failure to love and cherish the infinitely lovable.

Merchant notes that the issues can not be reduced to a bumper sticker. He agrees that people and ideas are more complex than aphorisms and that sensitive, irenic discussion over dividing issues is necessary. He is right. In fact, winsome dialogue is an expression of love, especially when we do not minimize the role of truth in discerning the best way forward in addressing global poverty, HIV/AIDS, government corruption, and so on. In the end, what we need it the Lord to save us from ourselves and to fill us with unnatural love for him and for one another.

Lord Save Us From Your Followers movie

Book and movie review

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2008 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the review (and comments) re Merchant. I have been looking for people to pop up like Merchant who draw attention to the message of Christ from a fresh perspective. Thanks for the coverage. Also saw him interviewed by Matt Lauder on Thurs, 4/10/08 NBC. Nice website. Mother

  2. April 11, 2008 12:53 pm

    I picked this book up at the airport on Tues and have read through about half of it. He seems to lean heavily on the tollerance side of things but I have to say that it’s a powerful message. He calls us to overcome the “us vs. them” mentality and one quote has haunted me for 3 days since I read it. It was something like “…when talking to someone are you more concerned with being right or with actually having a conversation…”.

    I find that we are way too concerned with trying to tell someone about how much we think Jesus can help them rather than taking time to listen and let Jesus work in their lives.

  3. July 23, 2008 8:45 pm

    I have yet to read Dan Merchant’s book but am looking forward to the movie. Even if it leans heavily on tolerance over truth, I welcome that. Because there are plenty other voices shouting about the unrighteousness of the wicked.

    The Christian ideal has always fallen short in practice, when people are involved. We can never love God or each other perfectly. Reinhold Niebuhr wrestled with this in his sermons and lectures, and books; most notably in “Moral Man and Immoral Society.” Or as my pastor used to say, “wherever two or more of you are gathered, there are problems.”

  4. July 23, 2008 9:23 pm

    Good points.

  5. Oscar permalink
    September 26, 2009 9:37 am

    I have not read the book (yet) either but have watched many of the video excerpts on YouTube of both the movie and interviews with Merchant.
    Some of the other comments refer to the emphasis on tolerance. I recommend another book, “Repenting of Religion” by Gregory Boyd. He lays out the Biblical foundation for this ‘tolerance’. Instead of tolerance, Boyd’s word is non-judgementalism. The Bible never mentioned tolerance but it does speak repeatedly of not judging and loving unconditionally.

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