As a blogger and reviewer, I sometimes get books sent to me for review or as a gift in the hopes that I will recommend it to someone else. I received The Stream by James Robison in the mail and I cannot stress strongly enough NOT to buy this book. In fact, tell other people not to buy this book. It purports to be a Christian book on how to renew freedom in America, but it does not espouse Christian values. If you’re going to claim Christianity as the basis for your argument and then pepper nearly every page with Scripture, you had better be sharing Christian beliefs and in my opinion this book does not.
I believe James Robison is speaking from the heart and that his intentions are good, but as is too often indicative of those who adapt this idea that God is on “our side,” this book demonizes those who don’t agree with the author’s point-of-view. Literally. He implies that President Obama is either on the side of evil, under its influence, or simply not intelligent enough or savvy enough to understand it. He does mention we should pray for our leaders, but spends far more time telling us how we should replace them with more effective people who agree with “us” without ever questioning if his own beliefs are in line with the Bible.
He incorrectly assumes that the Founding Fathers believed in America as a Christian nation and that the premise of America is that it is and will always be Christian. He adapts the view “Our Founding Fathers never conceived a nation separated from God (p.11).” This is not true. The Founding Fathers wanted to protect the rights of any person to worship God as they saw fit. That is why they were strenuous in making sure there was no state religion.
This book is really an endorsement of standard evangelical conservative beliefs and not a book about how Christians should guide their lives within the framework of government. While he does pay lip service to those ideas and writes that Christians need to be guided by Christ, he makes assumptions about what God says is “right.” His views on marriage, abortion, small government, and the willingness for our nation to go to war against “the enemy” are all standard Republican fare. Anyone who doesn’t agree with him is labelled as a “progressive” (which I never understood why that was bad) or a “relativist.” But Robison doesn’t really understand what relativism is.
Some aspects of the book I completely agree with. We do need to have more of an “attitude of gratitude” and as Christians we do need to rely more on God and less on ourselves. We do need to be guided by Jesus in how we live and how we behave. And as pastors and preachers we do need to preach the Word of God. But we certainly don’t need to preach politics. There are times when politics and the pulpit collide, but as a pastor who preaches to a diverse group of people, your job is not to endorse or demonize politics. Once we do that we lose our authority. Our job is to teach the Word of God, lead by example, share the love of Christ, and pray that we are effective in what we do. Partisan politics is not the purview of the preacher. James Robison would do well to remember that.
Bottom line: This book doesn’t add to the already existing conversation. I was hoping that it would be a spiritual guide on how to focus on our freedom in Christ rather than a partisan stance on politics. If you already hold these views, Robison doesn’t add to them. If you don’t, you’ll feel as if Robison was on the attack rather than on a quest to help transform the world for Christ.