Martin's most recent book, What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? - A Guide to What Matters Most articulates mainline, orthodox Christianity in a fresh, accessible, and storytelling style.
This new edition includes a Leader's Guide and a new introduction from the author that reflects on the book's reception. The Leader's Guide features unique and easily implemented aids for carrying out a seven-week, congregation-wide initiative that will help local churches reach out to their communities. More information is available at http://thielen.wjkbooks.com.
An Excerpt from the Introduction
When I first met Danny, he said, "Preacher, you need to know that I'm an atheist. I don't believe the Bible. I don't like organized religion. And I can't stand self-righteous, judgmental Christians."
In spite of Danny's avowed atheism and my devout Christian beliefs, we became close friends. Over the next year Danny and I engaged in numerous conversations about God, religion, and faith. During that time Danny softened his stance on atheism. One day, after a long conversation, he announced with a laugh, "I've decided to upgrade from an atheist to an agnostic." Several months later Danny said, "I've had an epiphany. I realize that I don't reject Christianity. Instead, I reject the way that intolerant Christians package Christianity." A few weeks after that conversation, Danny said, "Martin, you've just about convinced me on this religion stuff. So I want to know—what's the least I can believe and still be a Christian?"
"What's the least I can believe and still be a Christian?" What a great question! This little book represents my best effort to answer that question. Part 1 presents ten things Christians don't need to believe. In short, Christians don't need to believe in closed-minded faith. For example, Christians don't need to believe that Jews are going to hell or that it's heresy to believe in evolution. Part 2 presents ten things Christians do need to believe. They need to believe in Jesus—his life, teachings, example, death, and resurrection. A great benefit of these beliefs is that they provide promising answers to life's most profound questions including: Where is God? What matters most? What brings fulfillment? What about suffering? And is there hope?
Praise for What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?
"Thielen, senior pastor of Lebanon First United Methodist Church in Tennessee, has written a brief book that somewhat belies its catchy title—it is not a cynical expedient for quasibelievers, but rather a purgative for overeager and bigoted Christians. He reminds readers that Christians need not be sexist, anti-Semitic, literalistic, anti-evolution, or judgmental; they do, however, need to believe in and embrace Jesus and his message. VERDICT: Clear and easy to read, with punchy messages, Thielen's book will find favor with pastors, church groups, and individuals." — Library Journal (January 15, 2011) by Graham Christian
"If you long to clear away theological underbrush and discover (or rediscover) a Jesus-centered approach to the Christian faith, read this book. Don't be deceived by the book's brevity or title. Thielen engages the kinds of questions people actually ask. He combines theological acumen, a pastor's heart, and a knack for storytelling to fashion one of the most useful books I've read in a long time." — Michael A. Smith, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
"Martin Thielen's whimsical title disguises a very serious issue every clergyperson deals with daily: how to help Christians navigate through myths and misunderstandings and faulty assumptions about our faith. This is a fine resource for clergy and laity alike, particularly those who have wondered: "Do I have to believe that?" — John M. Buchanan, Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois
"For anyone still trying to get out from under that old, hard brand of Christianity that clinches its fist against science, women, or other faiths, and for those trying to sort out the simple basics of what we believe is at the heart of the Christian faith, Thielen's book is clear, accessible, down to earth, and reliable." — James C. Howell, author and senior pastor, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina
"What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? sounds almost sacrilegious but it's anything but! With this book, Thielen invites readers into a safe space to ask the tough questions surrounding our most commonly held beliefs. He releases us from the guilt of doubt and sets us free to examine our faith and conclude that doubt not only goes hand in hand with faith, but actually enhances it. His book is a call to the world of 'both/and' rather than 'either/or.' It is a call to freedom in faith, to being openly Christian, yet open minded as well. We don't have to leave our brains or our doubts at the door when we receive Jesus as savior—hallelujah!" — Sharon L. Baker, Associate Professor of Theology and Religion and Coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Messiah College
WJK Radio 22: Martin Thielen Explains the Least We Can Believe
Martin's other books, seen below, are out of print. However, most of them can still be found on the Internet. His sixth book, If Money, Success, and Beauty Don't Make People Happy, What Does? will be released by WJK in 2012.
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