Now at number 9 on Amazon’s top free Kindle book list is Martin Thielen’s
What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?: A Guide to What Matters Most (Westminster/John Knox, 2011). According to the product page, Thielen is a United Methodist minister from Lebanon, Tennessee, and in the book, Thielen
has compiled a list of ten things Christians need to believe and ten things they don’t to qualify as Christians.This lively and engaging book will be a help to seekers as well as a comfort to believers who may find themselves questioning some of the assumptions they grew up with.Many people in the twenty-first century hunger for an expression of Christian faith that is different from the judgmental and narrow-minded caricatures they see on television or in the news. With an accessible, story-telling style that’s grounded in solid biblical scholarship, Thielen shows how Christians don’t need to believe that sinners will be “left behind” to burn in hell or that it’s heresy to believe in evolution. And while we must always take the Bible seriously, we don’t always have to take it literally. At the same time, Christians do need to believe in Jesus—his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, and his vision for the world. A great benefit of those 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? Thielen articulates centrist, mainline Christianity in a way that’s fresh and easy to understand and offers authentic Christian insights that speak to our deepest needs.
Of course, this line has been subject to various drawings, but from a great many confessional perspectives, the question (or something like it) is well worth asking and carefully considering, even if one ultimately disagrees with Thielen’s proposal and even though (and perhaps because), from a Pauline viewpoint, one particular line drawing—namely, that of Abraham’s God in Jesus—serves as the norma normans for all the others (e.g., Rom 2:16).