The New International Version : Luke 9 : 23-24

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“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’ ” (New International Version, Luke 9:23-24). About a month ago, I was asked to share a five-minute reflection on this verse at New Life’s high school youth group. Little did I know that my attempted message shadowed in comparison to the message of Kenda Dean in her book Almost Christian. Both this verse and her book provide powerful effectiveness through their unpleasantness, if such a paradox is possible. I was hesitant to share this unpleasantness with the youth group students, afraid presenting Christianity as a lifestyle that isn’t easy and isn’t pretty would make them not want to follow Christ anymore. However, Dean asserts that the opposite course of action that is taking place in the North American church right now is even more unadvisable. Dean addresses the issue and takes on the moves of Practical Theology as she consistently presents her argument that “perhaps young people lack robust Christian identities because churches offer such a stripped-down version of Christianity that it no longer poses a viable alternative to imposter spiritualties like Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” (36). With this thesis, Dean engages in the descriptive-empirical, interpretive, normative, and pragmatic tasks of Practical Theology to insist that when it comes to

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