So you're frustrated with Christianity? So is a former pastor and founder of a Christian rock band who wrote his first book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity, to help himself and others resolve the issues they have with the Christian faith.
“This book is filled with my angst-ridden frustrations,” writes Jason T. Berggren, founder of the Christian hard rock band Strongarm and former associate pastor at Calvary Fellowship Church in Miami. “This book is me sitting on the counseling couch having it out with God. Telling Him how I feel and trying to find my way.”
But contrary to what the title suggests, the book is meant to channel the anger and frustration non-believers and believers have with Christianity and use it to build a stronger relationship with God.
In raw, sometimes uncomfortably honest writing, Berggren tackles the top ten frustrations he struggles with in his Christian faith. They include faith, prayer, the Bible, sin, rules, love, hell, church, Christians, and various discrepancies between the reality in the world and what the Bible says.
“I thought that since I was tapping into truth I would have all my questions answered, all my insecurities would go away, and I would get everything I wanted,” said Berggren to The Christian Post in an interview Wednesday.
Christians had “planted” that misconception into Berggren’s mind early on in his faith life when they said if he had enough faith then everything would come true.
“That didn’t happen,” he stated.
“My faith did bring me clarity and peace more than I had before, but it didn’t fix every problem in my life,” said the author who grew up in a broken home where his stepmother said she didn’t love him and his mother was never around.
Sometimes it even seemed like believing in Jesus added to his inner struggles.
“Over and over, I’ve had to face certain aspects of my faith that don’t seem to line up,” he writes.
The first frustration Berggren tackles in his book is the problem of faith when it seems like God “didn’t come through.” The author shares that he is sometimes mad at God when prayers aren’t answered, and hates the “fantasy element” such as God’s invisibility and not being able to prove God’s existence with facts and figures.
But what Berggren came to realize about the value of his faith is that it is “the reason good times are better and it makes hard times livable.”
“I think that’s essentially the promise God does make to humanity as we place our faith in Him – he’s still with us regardless of how we feel,” he writes, after telling a true-story about his college friend, also named Jason, who abruptly took his own life after facing hardship.
“My faith is still a mystery in many ways, which drives me insane, but I also know it’s the one thing that’s true,” Berggren states.
The former rocker, whose band disbanded and who is now a Christian writer/local handyman, is also frustrated when it seems like the Bible is being inconsistent.
“I hate that I can’t figure it all out,” Berggren declares.
For example, he notes, in the Ten Commandments God says do not murder, but then God tells King Saul to kill the Amalekites. Another problem he sees is God’s chosen kings had multiple wives when the Bible teaches Christians to have only one wife.
For the problem of murder, Berggren resolves it by noting that murder is always killing, but killing is not always murder. The Amalekites had “waged unprovoked attacks” on Israel many times, he noted citing the Bible, and God allowing King Saul to kill the Amalekites was in defense to protect their families.
In regards to polygamy, the author finds that at the end of King David's and King Solomon’s lives they regretted their many bad decisions.
“God loves humanity and wants to establish a relationship with us, no matter what,” Berggren writes. “He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. That’s what I learned from this apparent inconsistency. He wasn’t approving their bad behavior. Instead, he was accepting them, telling them they needed to change, and still loving them.”
The frustrated Christian also argues against the claim that the Bible was manipulated to spread propaganda. He pointed out that this is unlikely since the Bible includes so many “ugly” details about people who were followers of God.
Biblical heroes like King David who plotted the death of one of his military leaders so he could marry his wife and the famed Apostle Peter who denied knowing Jesus three times while he was being interrogated “would seem to reflect poorly on God.”
“If I were trying to persuade people through propaganda, I’d leave out details that tarnish my reputation. Wouldn’t you?” Berggren poses.
The one theme he sees running through the multi-author, multi-book Bible is “God’s loving humanity and wanting to rebuild a relationship that was lost.”
“I’ve come to see that this book’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing; it’s a story about fixing things that have been broken, especially the bond between God and humanity.”
Berggren, who has three tattoos, also talks about how he hates the concept of sin that judges his morality, all the rules that Christians set up that makes it seem like you can’t be a Christian and have fun, having to love people that he'd rather hate, and people who call themselves Christians but are “crazy, annoying, judgmental, and hypocritical.”
“I want readers to know that it’s OK to be imperfect, to have your doubts, to have questions,” said the author to The Christian Post. “I just don’t want them to give up and know how much God loves them, that Jesus is real, and God just wants to pursue and have a real, raw relationship with you."
“God accepts you how you are and I just want people to not give up on their relationship with God,” he said.
On the Web: www.10thingsihate.com