Item description for True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In by James Choung...
Overview In this engaging narrative, James Choung weaves a tale of a search for a Christianity worth believing in. Disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the plausibility of the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering. Along the way, they have some surprising realizations that real Christianity is far bigger than anything they ever heard about.
Publishers Description "Christianity seems like just another screwed-up religion " Anna said. "Seriously, what has Christianity done for us--or for the world, for that matter? They're just a bunch of hypocrites, that's what I think Are they good for anything?" "I don't know, Anna," Caleb said. "I just don't know." Caleb has been a Christian for a long time. But he realizes that he can't bring himself to share his faith with anyone because it doesn't sound like good news anymore. Christianity's truth claims come across as hollow, arrogant and intolerant. Christians have a bad track record of hating and condemning those they disagree with. Worst of all, it feels like Christianity is just about "saving souls," giving people an escape ticket to heaven while the world falls apart. Is it only about Jesus forgiving our sins? There must be more to it than that... In this engaging narrative, James Choung weaves the tale of a search for a Christianity worth believing in. Disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the plausibility of the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering. They ask each other tough questions about what Jesus really came to do and what Christianity is supposed to be about. Along the way, they discover that real Christianity is far bigger than anything they ever heard about in church. And the conversion that comes is not one that either of them expects. Join Caleb and Anna on their spiritual journeys as they probe Christianity from inside and out. Get past the old cliches and simplistic formulas. And discover a new way of understanding and presenting the Christian faith that really matters in a broken world.
From Publishers Weekly Brian McLaren started a genre of fiction in which a disenchanted evangelical meets a wizened ethnic teacher of a new sort of Christianity, prompting a second conversion to a faith that is more world savvy, compassionate and appealing. In Choung's version, a college student in Seattle named Caleb struggles to share the gospel (and a bit more) with his friend Anna. While the narrative runs the risk of falling into stereotype (and often does resort to evangelical catchphrases), Choung manages to make readers care about his characters' religious and romantic fates. Its best moments are Caleb's wrestling with the relationship between his Korean ethnic identity and his faith. Choung concludes the book in his own voice, with a diagram designed to help an individual share the gospel with another on the surface of a napkin. While the faith presented is indeed more passionate about the environment and social justice than many evangelicals are wont to be, the goal of a more effective one-on-one evangelism is hardly revolutionary. The book will appeal to readers of McLaren and others for whom vampire Christianity, a phrase Choung's real-life mentor Dallas Willard uses to describe a faith reduced to a bit of blood shed on one's behalf, has become untenable. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In by James Choung has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 02/04/2008 page 39
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James Choung started his educational odyssey at MIT, graduating in 1995 with a Management Science degree before heading off to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to acquire a Master of Divinity in 1999. Feeling more confused about God when he left seminary than when he started, he eventually wound up sitting at the feet of the wise gurus at Fuller Theological Seminary and graduated in 2008 with a Doctor of Ministry in Postmodern Leadership. Along the way, Choung helped plant an urban, multi-ethnic church called Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, and eventually became the pastor. He also served as intern pastor over international youth, college and expats in the English-speaking ministries of Onnuri Community Church in Seoul, Korea. Previously Choung served as divisional director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's San Diego Division. He kept busy with over 16 campuses and 220,000 students to connect with. But somehow he managed to write the book True Story and companion booklet, Based on a True Story, as well as maintain a speaking schedule traveling throughout the country shaking up ministerial minds on topics like leadership and evangelism. Today Choung is national director of Asian American Ministries for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, serving 168 staff and 4,646 students all over the country. He also teaches classes on evangelism and missional leadership development at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Choung lives with his wife, Jinhee, and their two little ones in Torrance, California. Visit James at his website, jameschoung.net.
Reviews - What do customers think about True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In?
Amazing Feb 22, 2010
This is a great book that explains in a simple way the part of our Christianity that we often overlook and neglect. It doesn't focus too much on the salvation of the individual in terms of Jesus death on the cross because that is a part of Christianity that is so widely preached and known by everyone. Instead it focuses mostly on the other aspects of Christian faith that people often neglect. Its extremely eye-opening and presents an amazing way of knowing what our faith is about and being able to communicate it with others.
A Good Telling of the Gospel Aug 10, 2009
James Choung's book provides a simple but faithful way of telling the gospel story on a napkin! I think he succeeds admirably. It is a huge improvement over the "four spiritual laws." I recommend this book for those who want to present the gospel in a clear but basic way that takes into account the "big picture" of God's story. This is a gospel presentation that takes account of the larger insights that N. T. Wright and Brian McClaren write about-kingdom theology, social justice, community, mission, etc. Evangelicals who critique his work do so on the basis that he does not give enough attention to personal sin, penal substitutionary atonement, and the afterlife. I think this is the strength of his book. He does not deny these themes, of course, but gives the gospel a wider angel through the lens of the kingdom of God-which, I think, is the message of Jesus himself (see my post on Luke).
His diagram comes in four parts: designed for good (creation), damaged by evil (fall), restored for better (redemption), and sent together to heal (mission of the church towards eschatological renewal). This is a wonderful summary, and it takes into account multiple levels. It is cosmic (how we relate to creation-part of the good for which we are designed is as stewards of nature), relational (relationships among human beings-prophetic relationship toward biogtry is part of the gospel message), and relationship with God (personal, individual as well as communal). It is an evangelistic tool that moves, as Choung describes, from mere/single individual descision to life-long spiritual transformation and discipleship, from individualism (not merely a "personal" relationship with Jesus) to community (belonging to a community), and from preoccupation with afterflife ("going to heaven") to missional life (kingdom of God in the here and now as well as the future). See Choung's website for further discussions of his diagram, video examples, etc. I highly recommend this book as an effective summary of the gospel which is useful for evangelistic strategy.
Opens up Christianity for All People May 14, 2009
I recommend this book to everyone who ever wonders why we have this longing for a better world. There's a reason why there are animal activists, vegans, civil rights groups, environmentalists, people who choose right over wrong, etc. This book ties in our current transformation of our world with the Gospel.
I've spent years looking for this book Nov 24, 2008
I've spent years trying to do what James Choung has done in this book: give a simple explanation of what it means to become a Christian. I've heard countless "plans of salvation" over the past 40 years that focus on making a decision that guarantees I will escape hell and gain heaven. So many of these plans seem trite and mechanical in comparison to the grand narrative of the Bible. By contrast, Choung gives a four-part explanation of the gospel: 1) designed for good; 2) damaged by evil; 3) restored for better; and 4) sent forth to heal. Choung's book explains each of these four parts in a fictional encounter with a skeptical, cynical college student. This is an excellent book that models evangelism for a post-modern age.
Christianity Re:Viewed Nov 11, 2008
James Choung has given us a great gift in "True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In". For our rising Millennial generation that sees the world through an increasingly post-Christian lens, James' book is a refreshing, if not surprisingly engaging invitation into the life and mission of Jesus.
Accessible to those who would never suspect Christianity to be the vanguard of social action, "True Story" presents a fuller, more accurate picture of the Gospel through a narrative of exploration, confusion, disillusionment, and restoration.
Entertaining and practical simultaneously, "True Story" should set the standard for post-modern evangelism and cultural engagement for those of us who are more familiar with the interior view of our church walls and iPod headphones than we are with engaging our broken world in conversations that inspire hope and transformation.