I’ve just finished a book I know you’re going to want to pick up. The latest from Hugh Halter, Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgement picks up an important thread from his last book (Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth) and offers what turns out to be an essential read if you hope to reach real people who are far from God.
The idea at the heart of Brimstone is that Jesus “was the least judgmental person the world had ever met and that if 1 John 2:6 is serious, then everyone who claims to be a Christian must walk as Jesus walked.” Halter goes on to write that “this should make the Christian movement–the church–full of the least judgmental people the world has ever known.”
Brimstone begins with a look back at a question Halter posed on his blog “the day the story broke about the Christian bakery owners who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.”
“In a small town there is only one bakery.
Jesus is the baker.
Two gay men walk in and ask Him to bake a cake for their wedding.
Would Jesus bake the cake.”
A great question and one that generated over 4500 responses in the first hour. The responses were split down the middle and “almost every response contained an air of confidence, and often arrogance, as if it was unfathomable not to take the side of that dilemma.”
Brimstone, like Flesh, is not a difficult read. Halter’s writing is always engaging and peppered with personal stories from his own journey. Honestly, it is equally a challenging read in that I found myself and my own judgmental tendencies peeking out a number of times. The bottom line though is that it is an important read and well worth a thoughtful and careful investment. If we want to truly follow Jesus we’ve got to learn to walk as He walked.
There is something about the way Halter works his way through our need to develop a nonjudgmental posture that lowers our defenses. He lays out the challenge very thoroughly but with a sensitivity that acknowledges his own struggles.
Brimstone is best read with a group. While there isn’t a study guide that accompanies it, every chapter concludes with a set of thought-provoking observations and questions that will easily form the basis for a powerful discussion.
I have to say I love this book and have already recommended it to many of my friends. If you’re serious about incarnational ministry, Brimstone might be required reading. Certainly, if we have any hope of sharing what we have with the men and women all around us, we need to learn to live the way Jesus lived. Brimstone will help us do that. I highly recommend this book.