Book Review: Where Are All the Brothers?, by Eric Redmond
We have all heard the excuses. “The church is full of hypocrites.” “The Bible is just a book.” “I’m not into organized religion.”
Those of us who spend the majority of our time among African-Americans frequently hear these and a few more. “The church is for women.” “Islam has more for black men.” “The church is just in it for the money.”
These excuses are found in a variety of places. Often we hear them as we sit and admire the hair carving skills of our local barber. Other times we are privy to them as we attend family reunions and dinners. Sometimes it’s just the unexpected conversation of the person sitting next to us on the train, plane, or bus. Though the occasion may change, the excuses and questions seem to remain the same.
How often have we left those conversations wishing we had a resource to give to our skeptical friend or family member! Thankfully, Eric Redmond has helped us with this dilemma.
Eric Redmond, senior pastor of Reformation Alive Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Maryland, has given the body of Christ an excellent resource in Where Are the Brothers: Straight Answers to Men’s Questions about the Church. In a terse yet engaging format, Redmond has reminded us that not only do our family, friends, and neighbors have legitimate questions, but we as Christians have sound, reasonable, and convincing answers.
Eric begins the book with an assertion that some will find hard to believe. He states, “Giving me ten minutes of your life for the next nine days could change your whole life.” Eric makes this claim because he has written in the book in a usable format such that the chapters are to be read at a day at a time. The chapters deal with the following questions:
Day 1. Isn’t the Church Full of Hypocrites?
Day 2. Wasn’t the Bible Written by Men?
Day 3. Isn’t the Church Geared Toward Women?
Day 4. Isn’t the Preacher Just a Man?
Day 5. Doesn’t Islam Offer More for Black Men?
Day 6. Aren’t Some Churches Just After Your Money?
Day 7. Is Organized Religion Necessary?
Day 8. Jesus Never Claimed to Be God, Did He?
Day 9. What to Look for to Find a Good Church
(There are also two appendices, one on The Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecies about Christ in the New Testament and a second on The Church Does Not Welcome Homosexuals. These easily could have been included as chapters, only the nine day the reader would have been challenged to do an eleven day exercise—still well short of the forty day fad. Yet this decision in no way takes away from the impact and import of this book.)
As Christians who love Christ and his church, we understand these questions are merely excuses and even smokescreens. Yet we should give reasonable answers with care and clarity. Eric has done both. The little book is filled with pastoral and theological insight, challenge, and care. For example, in answering the question, “Wasn’t the Bible Written by Men?” Eric establishes his answer upon the testimony of Scripture itself. He then concludes with these words:
Therefore, my brother, the truth—God’s Word—is available and is not distorted by the hands of men. So find a copy of the Bible so you can read the written words of God. Therein you will find the message of life. The same God who worked through men to give you his very words became a man to address your need to know him through repentance from sin and faith in the Son of God and his work to pay for your sins and rose again to offer you eternal life. This is God’s final word “written” for man.
Though Eric writes with a particular eye toward African-Americans, the scope of the questions and answers clearly apply to practically any cultural and ethnic context. Wherever these questions are found, this apologetic should be on hand.
So I strongly encourage you to read it. Read it because it can do nothing but bolster you own ability to give an answer for the hope that you have within you. Read it because, if we are honest, some of these questions creep into our own minds from time to time.
Once you have read it, give it away. Give it away because a biblical answer to one of these excuses may be the catalyst for calling a wayward sheep home. Give it away because Eric’s answers will leave many without excuse and thus even more accountable before God. Give it away because someone may find reason to give God eternal thanksgiving for your gift.
And once you have given it away, buy some more and give them away as well. Who knows, maybe having them on hand will encourage us to engage with those who ask such questions. Maybe one day the question will cease to be, “Where are all the brothers?” Instead, we will look around our churches and ask, “Where did all the brothers come from?”