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JFH Staff Book Review

Bad Christian, Great Savior

Matt Carter, Toby Morrell and Joey Svendsen
Bad Christian, Great Savior

Page Count: 52 Pages
Street Date: December 4, 2013

Bad Christian (formerly Un-Learning) is a blog run by Emery members Matt and Toby and their long-time friend, Pastor, and former bassist, Joey Svendsen. The blog that focused on religious and moral subjects came into a bigger spotlight last year when the three released a controversial book. Bad Christian, Great Savior is a book that speaks openly and bluntly. In it, Matt, Toby, and Joey give real life stories (many of which they aren't proud of), speak in real terms, admire the love of a Great Savior, and envision a positive direction for the church. The book isn't controversial because of any weird theological stance or perceived blasphemy, but instead for its open and raw nature. Bad Christian relates to its readers by discussing things like sexual sin (including pornography), drunkenness, and by using some foul language.

In this brief 4-chapter book, the guys lay everything (well, at least quite a bit) on the line for everyone to plainly see. While many may look down at things like Matt's story of when he got drunk watching a Clemson/Florida State football game just a couple of years ago, or Toby's struggle with pornography, the guys openly admit their erroneous behavior. You can tell from the writing that they aren't proud. They are contrite, have asked forgiveness, and tried to improve their walk with God since those moments, but they aren't content to act like perfect Christians either. The fact is that Christians struggle with these and other problems every day. The "Bad Christian" movement, especially in this book, has found a way to talk about these issues without glorifying them. The guys come across as simple, God-loving human beings. They love their Savior, but fail miserably at their walk like all of us. Plenty of scripture is discussed and questions are raised about the traditional church and possible flaws that may be holding God's mission back.

The preface gives 5 warnings before you begin reading: (1) This book is intense, (2) This is the way we really talk, (3) We believe that the church is awesome, (4) We had to write this book, and (5) This is not a book of theology. The preface goes on to explain these points in more detail, but they turn out to be extremely accurate. On top of sexual sin and other shocking stories, the guys are also quite blunt with their language. While this shouldn't be the focus of a book with such a strong and challenging message, I will give some info on the language used in the book later to help you make an informed decision on reading. While it may make some people uncomfortable to read such content, the message of this book is worth the minimal discomfort.

In the end, Matt, Toby, and Joey are promoting Jesus and community fellowship. It's quite obvious that they are truly followers of Christ and it's really hard to point the finger at them for being hypocritical. They openly admit their mistakes when so many others bury them deep. While your fellow Christians may not know you are struggling with sexual sin, because you hide it so well, Jesus knows. Why bury your problems? Confess them to Christ and confess them to your friends is one of the strongest messages I took from this book. Holding one another accountable for your actions in open fellowship seems to be a much stronger message than to ask forgiveness from God and hide it from the world. The guys remind us of the "Acts Chapter 2" church and suggest that they be our guide today. My favorite, and perhaps the most profound line in the entire book, is found near the end. Matt writes, while contemplating the idea of trying to stop sinning versus following God more closely, "What if our problem was not a lack of effort in will power, but a lack of effort in just living the way God asked us to in the first place?" This is a must-read for most Christians; especially if you are struggling in some area of your life or walk with Christ. It's potent, but it's almost necessary in a sense. As a reader, I could have done without the language, but I think it was an attempt at full-disclosure more than anything else. Additionally, the digital version has annotations and links to the Un-Learning blog posts that relate to the discussion at hand in the book. Another Bad Christian book is promised and I'm excited to see it. If you only take one thing away from the book, take this: We are ALL bad Christians, but Jesus is a great Savior. He's far greater than we really know or deserve.

Language Breakdown:
*This is meant SOLELY FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AS A READER and not to cast judgment of any sort against the authors.
       8 "S" words, 4 "A" words (different variations), 3 "h*ll," and 1 "d*mn"
Other possibly offense terms include "eff," "WTF," and "Bl*w J*b.

- Review date: 7/23/14, written by Michael Weaver of


. Publisher: Bad Christian
. Page Count: 52 Pages
. Street Date: December 4, 2013
. Buy It: (Kindle)


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