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Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the ‘Rules’


Jacqueline Bussie knows that too many Christians live according to unspoken “laws” that govern the Christian life: #1: Never get angry at God; #2: Never doubt; #3: Never question; #4: Never tell your real story; #5: Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering; and #6: Always believe hope comes easy for those who truly love God.

Living according to these rules is killing real Christian life; Outlaw Christian proposes a rebellious, life-giving, authentic alternative. Through captivating stories and with disarming honesty, Bussie gives concrete, practical strategies to help readers cultivate hope, seek joy, practice accompaniment, compost their pain, and rediscover the spiritual practice of lament. Tackling difficult questions without political divisiveness, Bussie speaks to both progressive and conservative Christians in ways that unite rather than divide. And in doing so, she provides a new way to handle the most difficult and troubling questions of life in a broken world that God will never abandon.

“A solid exhortation to live outside the sphere of hackneyed holiness…Excellent exegeses…authentic insights…Bussie piles on stories of hope to countermand lies such as ‘nothing ever changes’…Bussie writes with poetry, pathos, and pepper.”-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“There’s nothing fluffy about this book. It is raw, sassy, and from the heart…This is a fresh invitation to the faith for skeptics, doubters, seekers, and even folks who like that old-time-religion. Become an outlaw Christian. God likes holy rebels.” -Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President, and the new book Executing Grace

“Reading Outlaw Christian was like having a late-night conversation with a dear friend. The experience is filled with deep confessions, refreshing honesty and new grace. I hope readers take away the same thing I did — a rekindled love for the God who finds us and frees us.” -Sarah Thebarge, author of The Invisible Girls

“Dr. Jacqueline Bussie has written this book for those Christians who crave the honest Gospel, stripped of deceptive prettiness and unreal promises; one that acknowledges our pain, welcomes our doubts, legitimizes our anger and insists that only when we are able to witness to the entire truth of our lives can we truly understand what the Good News means for us and for the world. Outlaw Christian invites us to step out of bounds again and again in search of an authentic faith with the end result being that we encounter our most authentic self.” – Paul Raushenbush, Huffington Post Executive Editor of Global Spirituality and Religion

“While this is a Christian book, its gifts are available to anyone who has ever wrestled with the seemingly impossible task of making sense of suffering, loss, evil, inequity, and loneliness–including atheists like me. Reading Dr. Bussie’s call to reject clichés and sit with uncertainty, I found myself hoping this book makes its way into the hands of every Christian who has ever had their questions or pain shut down by a platitude or an easy answer.” –Chris Stedman, author of Faitheist and Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community

“I served as a parish pastor for twenty five years.Walking with my people in times of crisis and deep pain I came to realize that some of their deepest struggles were not about loss nor about making sense out of what had happened, but finding the space within themselves and within their faith communities to speak honestly and openly about their doubt and anger toward God. Now Jacqueline Bussie, a theologian of the church, shares her experience and gives voice to all who have been caught in the belief that doubt is faithlessness and anger toward God is blasphemy. Quite the opposite, Dr. Bussie argues, doubt and anger are real expressions of a living faith. Outlaw Christian might break the rules but it opens up the possibility of deeper faith.” -The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
About the Author
Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is an author, professor, theologian, public speaker, and student of life in all its messy beauty. Jacqueline teaches religion and theology classes at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she also serves as the Director of the Forum on Faith and Life. Every day she is amazed and grateful that she actually gets paid to do the three things she loves most: 1) interact with incredible students, 2) write, and 3) try to make the world a more compassionate place.

In her free time, Jacqueline loves to: read books, ride in the front car of roller coasters, take ballroom dance classes with her husband, and travel to any place she has never been before. She is a huge fan of long walks, laughter, the band Bon Iver, the smell of honeysuckle on a hot day, and her husband’s fantastic fajitas. Her favorite place to write is next to any body of water. Though Jacqueline hails from Florida, she now lives in Fargo, North Dakota–which is all the proof she needs that the Divine has a sense of humor.

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