When the term “Christian” was first coined in Antioch, it was a term of derision. These “little Christs” were creating such an upheaval by promoting things like being good and loving that the ancient world decided the best course of action was to kill them. Since then the term “Christian” has had its ups and downs, sometimes it was the status quo, and sometimes like today it has born negative connotations.
However the name has been viewed one thing is certain, being a true follower of Jesus Christ has always born a stigma that led to persecution no matter what society His followers lived in; sometimes persecution came even by those bearing the name “Christian”.
The stigma of bearing Christ’s name is the topic of R.T. Kendall’s book “Unashamed to Bear His Name”.
Kendall points out that the Gospel itself is offensive, so anyone who claims that it’s true and lives accordingly must be by association offensive. The Gospel says, we’re naturally evil—opposed to God. We can do nothing good. People tend to have a problem with being called evil, never mind the good news inherit in God’s promise to forgive and transform us in all righteousness; they just don’t want to admit to being evil in the first place.
However, Kendall also points out that a lot of Christian circles are offensive unnecessarily. If the Gospel offends someone, so be it. But there’s no point in being purposively offensive like some groups out there. The Westboro Baptist folks come to mind in this area: God judges, not us.
The thing that really floored me is that Kendall is by all accounts a charismatic Calvinist. I didn’t even know such people existed. It was awesome reading, and a different perspective on most things than I’ve ever encountered. A lot of his beliefs mirrored my own; for example, miracles without a presentation or the Gospel don’t accomplish much. You can read what I wrote about the subject in Healing and God's Heart.
Kendal goes so far as to say that you can recognize a true charismatic revival by whether the Gospel is shared or not, and he points to the recent Lakeland revival as an example of a fraudulent revival. Considering what came to light about the leadership there, I’d say he is probably right.
I can’t say this book will be for everybody. In fact, I’m sure most who read it will find it offensive because in love he critiques conservatives and charismatics for being offensive for every reason but the Gospel, but I loved it, and I think Jesus words in Matthew 11:6 “"And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” applies very well to the words of Truth in Kendall’s book.
I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.