I promise we will finish the last section of Mere Christianity next week. This week though I had a book that I had to read all of so that consumed my reading time. So for this week I thought I would review the book that I read, and which I have mentioned in the last couple of posts – I Sold My Soul on eBay.

The premise of the book is that the author, an atheist, decided to place his time up for auction on eBay. For every $10 that the auction went for he would spend one hour in a church of the winning bidders choosing. In the end the auction went for a little of $500, which the author donated to a charity.

The winning bidder was unique in that he wanted Hemant to visit several different churches; different denominations, different sizes. This really helped him get a feel for the many facets of Christianity. He was also able to make some interesting observations and comment as someone with an outside perspective. The book is the result of that 50 hours of church visiting.

The way the book is arranged is by church size. To be fair the sizes are a little skewed when it comes to the national averages, but it was still a fair way of presenting the data, though one needs to keep that in mind when reading the book. It is also written in a very friendly and natural way; you really feel as if you are looking at the scene from his point of view and we get a wonderful insight into the various thoughts that go on in his head as he observed the various church services.

The book overall is a good read and really helps one to think about the church from the perspective of an outsider. His insights into the things that bother him about churches are understandable and nothing that I don’t think can be overcome. I did find that there were some things though that I disagreed with, though that may be because of how I view the ministry of the church.

First let’s talk about the suggestions that I enjoyed. One of the things that he brings up is that too often the church is focused on itself and ignores the rest of the world around it. Often times he saw “Christian Business Directories” which promoted various business. To him this practice was strange – what did it matter if my mechanic was a Christian as long as my car got fixed? Are Christian plumbers somehow better than non-Christian because of their faith? I completely understand where he is coming from and I agree with his evaluation in this area. That being said our church put together directory recently but it was slightly different from the normal directory; only members of the church are in it. The idea behind this was to help out those of our family during these tough economic times. If I needed something done why not at the same time help out someone I know so that I know that my money is going to help them. I think that type of directory is perfectly fine and is a useful tool for the community.

One of the things that I disagree with Hemant about is that he enjoyed the churches that did not quote as much Scripture. In his mind it is okay to draw our moral principles from the Bible, but he likes to see just a single passage given and then not really looked at for the remainder of the time (sermons typical of someone like Joel Olsteen for example). Personally I want to learn more about the Scriptures. I want to know what a passage means and how it can be applied to my life. I want to draw out the principles based on careful exegesis of the passage so that someone can come to the same conclusions and understand how it was arrived at. I understand why a “Scripture light” message would appeal to a non-believer so I don’t fault him for that analysis, for me though I want a Scripture rich message.

Overall the book is very interesting and really gives one some insight into the mind of an atheist. I know that my interactions with them have been brief and overall not very positive, so it was nice to see an open and honest dialogue. The book is very simple to read and could be knocked out in a couple of days, but the questions raised will give you plenty to think about. Pick up a copy if you are interested in how outsiders view our churches and it may help you make some changes and hopefully be more effective!