Updated: Aug 1, 2019
This article was originally published several years ago. As far as I know, nothing has changed in regards to Pastor Dave's views. But we can see that many of the concerns I have with this book that was written several years ago are coming to fruition in today's church.
First, however, let me preface this review with a little background. My wife and I used to live in San Francisco. During that time, we attended a little church (at that time) called Reality SF, which was pastored by Dave Lomas. We absolutely loved the church! We felt that Reality was the closest thing to a biblical church; true community, real worship music (not just a show to pack the room), and solid verse-by-verse Bible teaching. Ultimately, we felt that this was the closest thing to the church that we see in Acts. My wife and I had been calling Reality SF our home church, even after we left SF to move to West Hollywood.
With that in mind, when I picked up Pastor Dave's debut book The Truest Thing About You, I had high hopes and was looking forward to a good book on Biblical Identity. I was sorely disappointed.
Instead of a book focused on the biblical definition of identity and how God wants us to view ourselves, I found a book that just seemed like a combination of Rick Warren's mystical view of God's will found in The Purpose Driven Life, Billy Graham's high view of the Catholic Church, and Joel Osteen's high view of self and low view of Christ. I was literally shocked reading this book... I mean, how could this bad theology be coming from our pastor whom we had learned from every Sunday?
Before I wrote a review on the book, I reached out to Pastor Lomas, hoping for reassurance that I was just misinterpreting what he was saying. I wrote to him very non-confrontationally, asking for clarification... posing my questions as "You seem to be saying..." and "You seem to imply..." giving him the opportunity to clarify his position. He did respond, but I won't disclose that here, as his response did not clear up any questions that I had.
The majority of my concerns fall into a few main categories.
1. The people he quotes:
My first red flag came when I noticed the people that Pastor Dave was quoting. The names kept sounding familiar, but I couldn't place where I had heard the names before. So I started looking up the people that he was quoting. I found that the majority of the people that Dave referenced were Catholic priests, and there was even a Buddhist, an atheist who is living in a homosexual marriage, and a female pastor who is a Nazarene Theologian. If you take a look at these authors' beliefs and views on salvation, it is clear that they are not biblical Christians. These are not the biblical scholars that you would want to be quoting if you were looking to biblically define God's view of identity. If these are the people that Pastor Dave is studying during his research, that raises a huge red flag in who his influencers are.
2. Low view of Christ:
Throughout this book, I understood Dave's intention of realizing our identity through understanding how Christ understood His identity. With that said, I think that Pastor Dave was so focused on relating our identity to Christ's, that he seemed to be trying to convey that we are equals with Christ, even going so far as to say that we are God's beloved "just like Christ." I understand his intention, but this is dangerous ground that could lead people away from the Christ found in the Bible into false theologies like the "little god" theology found in many Charismatic circles.
3. Twisting and changing Scripture:
There were several instances where Pastor Dave twisted Scripture to fit his narrative. In fact, there were even instances where he literally changed passages to fit with his point. One example was his rewording of Matthew 3:17. Instead of quoting "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," he quoted God as saying, "This is My Son. I love him, and the fact that He's alive makes me unbearably happy." Do you see the difference? It is a subtle rewording of the Bible in order to fit in with Pastor Dave's point that God is happy with us just as we are. However, if you actually take a look at the intention of God's statement, that was not His point. There are several examples of this throughout the book, and shows that he either has a poor understanding of Scripture, or that he is willing to change the meaning of the Bible to fit his theology. Either way, it’s not good.
4. Lack of repentance:
When writing a book on the Biblical definition of identity, the first thing that needs to be explained is man's identity apart from Christ... i.e. sin nature and depravity. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Without this understanding, it is hard to understand our identity within Christ and how different the two are. However, in this book, there is almost no mention of sin (except to confront Christians and their intolerance towards "gay Christians") and no mention of repentance or turning away from our sinful nature. In fact, he goes so far as to blame a lack of repentance on God by stating that "When God changes us, we don't control how much change we go through. God does." Hence, if we don't see enough change (or repentance) in our lives, we shouldn't do anything ourselves... if God wants us to change, He'll make that change occur. That is completely opposite of what the Bible states. Even just a glance at Acts 3:19 shows us that we are commanded to repent, not just wait for God to repent through us: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”
5. View of homosexuality:
To understand Pastor Dave's view of homosexuality, let me just quote Dave himself. "Most people I know believe that their sexual attraction - no matter who it is for - identifies them. In addition, many believe that the identity of 'Christian' competes with certain identities grounded in sexuality. This is wrong." "Identity in Christ is truer than every other voice we hear. Gay, straight, divorced, lesbian, single, bi, celibate - identity in Christ is true regardless of our attractions. It's truer than our sexual identity labels." Even though Pastor Dave denies that he ever even implied that you can be a Christian without repenting from homosexuality, it is clear what he said in this book. To contrast what Pastor Dave wrote in his book, this is what God says about homosexuality: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” This is not a passage that Christians should use to persecute the gay community, by any means! However, this list shows us our mission field, and our goal should be to bring these people to Christ, just like we needed to come to Christ! However, giving people living in sin a false sense of salvation is not loving them… it is not giving them the opportunity to repent and follow after Christ to receive eternal life!
6. False Gospel
To be a Christ-follower, it takes a biblical understanding of sin, depravity, repentance, who Christ is, that He died to pay the penalty for our sins, conquered death by raising from the dead, that He is our only source of salvation, and that He is our Lord who we are to obey as our master. What is found in The Truest Thing About You is a far cry from the Gospel found in the Bible. This is a matter of life and death (spiritually speaking), and I truly hope that Pastor Dave will rethink his theological views in order to line them up with Scripture.
Now, in closing, Pastor Dave was gracious enough to respond to my concerns. When he responded to me, he denied every issue that I had with his book. And even though I asked him give me a few examples of how I was misinterpreting what he was saying, he did not do so. So, I could give him the benefit of the doubt by stating that maybe his ghost writer is the one who added all of this false theology in this book. Maybe this book started out with his outline, and then the ghost writer is actually the one with the false theology. Maybe. However, it is still Pastor Dave's name as the author of the book, and this is being presented as his work. So maybe, just maybe, he needs to go back and edit his editor's work. Either way, these issues need to be addressed to protect his readers and congregation from misunderstanding God's Word.