Dave Tomlinson - How to be a Bad Christian - Hodder & Stoughton

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats

How to be a Bad Christian

... And a better human being

By Dave Tomlinson

  • Paperback
  • £9.99

This is a book for people who want God without the guff - showing that it's possible to ditch religion, but keep the faith.

In the course of his work as a vicar, Dave Tomlinson meets lots of people who describe themselves as 'not good enough' to be a Christian, thinking that faith involves going to church a lot, or believing in a list of strange things, or following certain rules. But being a Christian isn't about any of that - and actually, following Jesus is a lot easier, and more fun, than most people think...

In this handbook to Christianity for people who describe themselves as spiritual but not necessarily religious, Dave sketches out some key practices for how to be a 'bad' Christian, including how to talk to God without worrying about prayer, how to read the Bible without turning off your brain, and how to think with your soul rather than trying to follow rules.

With beautiful illustrations from artist Rob Pepper, this is an accessible, light-hearted book, but one with a powerful invitation: to be the person you've always wanted to be, following a God you've always hoped is on your side.

Biographical Notes

Dave Tomlinson was a house church leader for many years and is now an Anglican priest. Unable to accept the narrow restrictions of his tradition, he founded the legendary Holy Joe's, a church in a pub in Clapham for disaffected church drop-outs. He is now Vicar of St Luke's, Holloway, a thriving parish church in north London. He is the author of the seminal The Post-Evangelical, I Shall Not Want and Re-enchanting Christianity.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781444703832
  • Publication date: 15 Aug 2013
  • Page count: 240
  • Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton
Here's my secret: sometimes, when I hear all kinds of outrageous things said and done in the name of Christianity, I think about turning in my membership. I don't want to be part of the elite club of the doctrinally correct and the spiritually superior. But then a book like this one comes along, and I say, "This is a way of being a Christian that makes sense to me. This is a way of life I can live with." I'm glad to be known as a bad Christian, thanks to Dave Tomlinson and this beautiful book. — Brian McLaren
Dave Tomlinson is superb priest who is driven by God's love in Christ, and who understands the spiritual instincts and needs of ordinary people. But he has to work within - or against - an institutional Church which too often either cannot communicate at all, or else communicates a false God with a repellent face. If the Christian faith is ever to capture the imagination of our culture, we have to learn the lessons of this book. — Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans
Dave is super-intelligent, funny, passionate, encouraging, generous, hard-working, self-giving, creative and a deeply faithful witness to the love of God - in short, a bad Christian. His book is a great gift to all who are searching for abundant life, in and out of church. — Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak
A vicar in the pub is worth two in a pulpit. Dave Tomlinson's HOW TO BE A BAD CHRISTIAN is as welcome as a glistening pint to a thirsty patron. Free from religious claptrap and moralistic badgering, here's a book that talks about God without boring your socks off. Tomlinson allows humanity and grace to escape the shackles of pious pedants, and flow into the world we all inhabit. Beautifully written, full of streetwise stories and wisdom, delightful and engaging - read it and discover how good it is to be among the bad. A rip-snorting manifesto for a way of living that makes a difference in the world. — Mike Riddell
Where is God? It's a question I often ask people. Does God live in Church? Does God live in Christianity? Does God live in the world and everything we know? In Dave Tomlinson's book How to be a bad Christian we wander through paths of discovery that God is wherever God wants to be. This is a gentle yet profound book that nudges people towards receptivity through stories and reflections. It invites us to imagine that the "spirit blows where the Spirit wills", and through its stories we are invited into a generous orthodoxy of faith where people discover their humanity - through discovering God, themselves, and an accepting love. Bad becomes good and good becomes reimagined. Please read it: it could change our communities, and the world. — Fuzz Kitto, international church consultant
'Dave Tomlinson has written a book that should be read by every person disaffected by their experience of evangelicalism and by every leader of the contemporary evangelical movement.' (for The Post-Evangelical) — Bishop Graham Cray
'This is a book without the need for profound theology, but a reminder that faith is stronger than theory and based on our busy lives' (for I Shall Not Want) — Christian Marketplace
Honest, intelligent, articulate, insightful and with an air of urbane wisdom, this book really shines for me. Above all it's a book which is easy to read and understand, one that opens Christianity to those outside it, on the fringes of it and just as importantly to those already inside it. — Melanie Carroll, Together
Tomlinson's radically inclusive approach, if it is accepted, moves the tired old debate on religion forwards a little... by using the language he does, Tomlinson provides a framework whereby religious and non-religious folk might find it easier to work together on the issues we all agree upon. — Simon Clare, West Sussex Country Times

If you want a book that is alive with possibilities, that revels in the grace of God and wants to see faith in action in the lives of real people, then you'll love this book.

He is very likeable and generous and loves people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds.

— Christian Today
Dave accompanied Vanessa Feltz on her BBC London programme to speak all about HOW TO BE A BAD CHRISTIAN — BBC Radio London

Guardian coverage of Dave Tomlinson taking the funeral of Ronnie Biggs:

Tomlinson, who had conducted the funeral of Biggs's fellow robber Bruce Reynolds last year, said he had received many anonymous emails asking him how he could justify taking the funeral.

"Jesus didn't hang out with hoity-toity, holier-than-thou religious people," he told the congregation in the standing-room-only chapel.

"He seemed much more at home with the sinners. At the end of the day, we are all sinners."

He anticipated that Biggs's arrival at a metaphorical pearly gate "will create a bit of a stir".

— The Guardian

Dave Tomlinson's How to be a Bad Christian is a heartening, life-affirming volume about how to get the most out of your existence...
Atheists and rationalists will also find aspects to enjoy, taking away some insights into how to live a good life; and Tomlinson's friendly treatise may persuade those generally repulsed by religion that can also present itself in a palatable form.

— Greg Jameson, Entertainment Focus

Church Times piece on the funeral of Ronnie Biggs:
After the Biggs funeral, many of us piled into a pub around the corner, where I had a stream of conversations with people whom many would classify as "sinners". Yet what I discovered was a great deal of goodness, love, and openness towards this particular man of the cloth's talking about Jesus.
They represented the hordes of people who know that their lives are a bit screwed up, who make no claim to being squeaky-clean Christians, but whose hearts are open to God, in all sorts of ways.


The Revd Dave Tomlinson is the Vicar of St Luke's, West Holloway, in London. His latest book is How to Be a Bad Christian - And a Better Human Being (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013).

— The Church Times

The Daily Mail reporting on Dave Tomlinson's involvement in Ronnie Bigg's funeral:

Was the floral V-sign on Ronnie Biggs's coffin evidence that the career criminal went to his grave unrepentant at the start of this month?

Some people thought so, but the trendy vicar who took the funeral insists it is none of our business and that Biggs and his fellow villains are the essence of Christianity.

The Rev Dave Tomlinson asserts that it is 'arrogant judgmentalism' to deplore Biggs's apparent lack of contrition. 'Constantly I hear people refer to Ronnie Biggs as unrepentant,' he writes in the Church Times. 'But how are we to know? That is God's call.'

Tomlinson, who also conducted the funeral of another Great Train robber, Bruce Reynolds, says he would be happy to be known as 'the villains' priest'.

After the funeral Tomlinson 'piled into a pub round the corner' with several of Biggs's mates.
He adds: 'What I discovered was a great deal of goodness, love and openness.'

— The Daily Mail

The Independent ran a two page spread on Dave taking the funeral of Ronnie Biggs:

"He was criticised for burying Ronnie Biggs but passing judgement is not Rev Dave Tomlinson's style. Tomlinson, author of a book 'How to be a Bad Christian', has embarked upon a mission to sweep up the disaffected hordes who would never set foot in a church by urging them to ditch religion ...in favour of a creed based on generosity and compassion. '

— Adam Sherwin, The Independent
If you're looking for labels, then Tomlinson is a liberal-leaning Anglican priest, with high church tastes (he wears vestments ) and a low church manner (he sometimes swears). He's most at home when chatting over a pint, and lately it's his ability to speak to ordinary people (who don't care much about labels) that's getting him noticed. — Justin Brierly, Christianity
[The Lady] said: 'Your book, your book, Dave. My Dad couldn't put it down. It's the first book he's ever read in his life.' That's pretty good really. He's the sort of person I wrote the book for. People who are not part of this religious conversation. — Stephen Tomkins interviews Dave Tomlinson, Reform Review
There's a lot of wisdom and insight in here, and I'm glad people like Dave continue kicking at closed doors and asking questions. It's a healthy sign in the Church. — Inspire Magazine
Hodder & Stoughton

Songs My Grandma Sang

Bishop Michael B. Curry
Authors:
Bishop Michael B. Curry
Hodder & Stoughton

Your Battles Belong to the Lord

Joyce Meyer, Joyce Meyer
Authors:
Joyce Meyer, Joyce Meyer
Hodder & Stoughton

How the Bible Actually Works

Peter Enns
Authors:
Peter Enns

Hodder & Stoughton

The Bible Tells Me So

Peter Enns
Authors:
Peter Enns

Peter Enns recounts his transformative spiritual journey in which he discovered a new, more honest way to love and appreciate God's Word.Trained as an evangelical Bible scholar, Peter Enns loved the Scriptures and shared his devotion, teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary. But the further he studied the Bible, the more he found himself confronted by questions that could neither be answered within the rigid framework of his religious instruction or accepted among the conservative evangelical community.Rejecting the increasingly complicated intellectual games used by conservative Christians to 'protect' the Bible, Enns was conflicted. Is this what God really requires? How could God's plan for divine inspiration mean ignoring what is really written in the Bible? These questions eventually cost Enns his job - but they also opened a new spiritual path for him to follow.The Bible Tells Me So chronicles Enns' spiritual odyssey, how he came to see beyond restrictive doctrine and learned to embrace God's Word as it is actually written. As he explores questions progressive evangelical readers of Scripture commonly face yet fear voicing, Enns reveals that they are the very questions that God wants us to consider - the essence of our spiritual study.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Sin of Certainty

Peter Enns
Authors:
Peter Enns

Bible scholar and author of The Bible Tells Me So Peter Enns explains how Christians mistake 'certainty' and 'correct belief' for faith when what God really desires is trust and intimacy.With compelling and often humorous stories from his own life, Bible scholar Peter Enns offers a fresh look at how Christian life truly works, answering questions that cannot be addressed by the idealized traditional doctrine of "once for all delivered to the saints."Enns offers a model of vibrant faith that views skepticism not as a loss of belief, but as an opportunity to deepen religious conviction with courage and confidence. This is not just an intellectual conviction, he contends, but a more profound kind of knowing that only true faith can provide.Combining Enns' reflections of his own spiritual journey with an examination of Scripture, The Sin of Certainty models an acceptance of mystery and paradox that all believers can follow and why God prefers this path because it is only this way by which we can become mature disciples who truly trust God. It gives Christians who have known only the demand for certainty permission to view faith on their own flawed, uncertain, yet heartfelt, terms.

Hodder & Stoughton

How to Pray

Pete Greig
Authors:
Pete Greig

Hodder & Stoughton

Following the Way of Jesus

Bishop Michael B. Curry
Authors:
Bishop Michael B. Curry
Hodder & Stoughton

The Prodigal Prophet

Timothy Keller
Authors:
Timothy Keller

Most people, even those who are nonreligious, are familiar with the book of Jonah: a rebellious prophet defies God and is swallowed by a whale. Less familiar to most people is the second half of this Biblical story--what happens after Jonah is released from the belly of the fish. Yet it is in this second half of the story that one of the most powerful and important lessons of the Bible is hidden.The famous story shows how, if we would understand the mercy of God, it will always take us in directions we would rather not go, toward people we would rather not care about, and ultimately into the deepest counsels of God. In a time of growing division, The Prodigal Prophet shows us God's love among people, and how Christians must listen to God's call even when it takes them to uncomfortable places.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Confident Woman Devotional

Joyce Meyer
Authors:
Joyce Meyer

Based on her #1 New York Times bestseller, THE CONFIDENT WOMAN, Joyce Meyer taps into the concerns and issues that trouble women most. She provides encouragement and tools to help resolve problems in the areas of life women struggle with most-including confidence, self image, and relationships. It is easy to get caught up in what the coming weeks, months, or years might hold and forget to slow down and live in the present. This powerful daily devotional will help women on their journey towards a confident life filled with love, laughter, and God's acceptance, one day at time.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Culture of God

Nadim Nassar
Authors:
Nadim Nassar
Hodder & Stoughton

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Eugene Peterson
Authors:
Eugene Peterson

'Sixty years ago I found myself distracted.' So begins the introduction to As Kingfishers Catch Fire. What follows is the record of the collaboration of pastor and congregation in acts of worship and a life together. What Eugene Peterson, for thirty years pastor of a Maryland church, discovered is that the pastor's life is much more than just the preaching. It is also made up of attending to the details in all the circumstances and relationships specific to a people and a place - prayers at a hospital bed, conversations with the elderly, small talk on a street corner. This collection of spiritual writings presents Peterson's distinctive approach designed to communicate to his congregation, and the reader, 'the full counsel of God.' Seven sections containing seven teachings, each expertly crafted to stir the biblical imagination. In these teachings, Peterson walks the reader through Scripture to bring fresh insight to familiar names such as Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John of Patmos.

Hodder & Stoughton

30 Days

Nicky Gumbel
Authors:
Nicky Gumbel
Hodder & Stoughton

The Marriage Book

Nicky Lee, Sila Lee
Authors:
Nicky Lee, Sila Lee
Hodder & Stoughton

Interrupting Silence

Walter Brueggemann
Authors:
Walter Brueggemann

Silence is a complex matter. It can refer to awe before unutterable holiness, but it can also refer to the coercion where some voices are silenced in the interest of control by the dominant voices. It is the latter silence that Walter Brueggemann explores, urging us to speak up in situations of injustice.Interrupting Silence illustrates that the Bible is filled with stories where marginalized people break repressive silence and speak against it. Examining how maintaining silence allows the powerful to keep control, Brueggemann motivates readers to consider situations in their lives where they need to either interrupt silence or be part of the problem, convincing us that God is active and wanting us to act for justice.

Hodder & Stoughton

Timothy Keller: The Reason for God, Making Sense of God and The Prodigal God

Timothy Keller
Authors:
Timothy Keller
Hodder & Stoughton

Seize the Day

Joyce Meyer
Authors:
Joyce Meyer

Today is no ordinary day. You may perform simple routines, feel uninspired, or lack the excitement of hope. But today could be the most important one of your life -- depending on how you choose to spend it. Joyce Meyer encourages you not to waste another minute. There is something special, valuable waiting for you to discover in each day. And when you spend time with God daily, asking Him to help you find it, you'll unlock the wonderful purpose He has in store for you. When you commit to letting God direct you, instead of resting passively in your own disappointments, you'll be open to receive greater happiness and blessings than you ever thought possible. All you need is the right encouragement. With over four decades of experience helping others find fulfillment, Joyce shares key biblical insights and personal stories that will help you make the most of this moment and SEIZE THE DAY!

Hodder & Stoughton

You are the Beloved

Henri J. M. Nouwen
Authors:
Henri J. M. Nouwen

'We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That's the truth of our lives. That's the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That's the truth spoken by the voice that says, "You are my Beloved."' - Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved Henri Nouwen, priest, professor and writer, devoted much of his later ministry to emphasising the singular concept of our identity as the Beloved of God. In an interview, he said that he believed the central moment in Jesus' public ministry to be his baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, 'You are my beloved son on whom my favour rests.' 'That is the core experience of Jesus,' Nouwen writes. 'He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is ... I think his whole life is continually claiming that identity in the midst of everything.'You Are Beloved is a daily devotional created from the very best of Nouwen's writings, paired with daily Scripture readings, that reveals our identity as children of God, and which encourages us to live out that truth in our daily lives. Nouwen is at once refreshingly accessible, unafraid to wrestle with challenging questions, and above all an encouraging and sympathetic voice along the way.

Hodder & Stoughton

My Time with God

Joyce Meyer
Authors:
Joyce Meyer

Everyday life can be demanding; it's easy to become distracted by so many things that seem important. But in order to achieve the life God has planned for you, you have to make time for what's most important - and the building block of a fulfilling life - your relationship with Him. In My Time with God, Joyce Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author, offers a practical way to spend time with God. Joyce shares powerful Scripture and personal illustrations that will help you experience the joy and peace that is gained through spending time with Him. You'll begin to navigate life more effectively, make better decisions, and claim the wonderful life you were meant to lead, day by day.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Way of Wisdom

Timothy Keller
Authors:
Timothy Keller
Hodder & Stoughton

Black Sheep and Prodigals

Dave Tomlinson
Authors:
Dave Tomlinson

'Very interesting, it's all about not alienating people before they even think about crossing the threshold of where you worship.' Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2Do you feel more at home on the edges of faith than at the centre? Would you call yourself a bit of a black sheep? Too often Christian spirituality has been associated with conformity, or a subculture where people don't feel able to ask questions. But Dave Tomlinson, author of How to be a bad Christian, doesn't think it has to be like this; instead, our spiritual communities can be 'laboratories of the Spirit' - places where we can explore issues of faith and spirit with openness, imagination and creativity. Welcome to black sheep spirituality - where doubts and questions are an essential part of faith; where difference of opinion is a sign of a secure community; where divine revelation is embraced wherever it is found - in the arts, science and the natural world as well as religious tradition; and where faith is something that is lived and practised rather than embalmed in beliefs or ritual.'Theology for anyone and everyone' BBC Radio 2