Tuesday, October 6, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Not My God" by Ken Babington

BOOK REVIEW
Not My God
My Life as the Pastor
of the Man Who
Murdered John Lennon
- Ken Babington -
_________________________

Despite the provocative
title, the debut memoir
from Ken Babington is,
in reality, a mixed bag.
_________________________

Truth be told, NONE OF US deserve the grace and forgiveness of God. Yet, through the blood, shed by Jesus Christ at Calvary, that glorious FREE gift IS available — TO ALL OF US — even crazy people who gun-down pop culture icons.

Shortly after murdering beloved former BeatleJohn Lennon, outside New York City's famed Dakota apartment building in December 1980, 25-year-old Mark David Chapman announced to the world that God had told him to commit the heinous crime. Then-34-year-old South Carolina pastor, Ken Babington, took issue with that statement. "NOT MY GOD," Babington exclaimed, upon seeing the sensational magazine headline.

With several years of prison ministry experience already under his belt, Babington reached out immediately to Chapman in late 1980  just as he had done previously with near countless other inmates from around the country. Months later, Chapman responded to Babington's outreach. A personal connection was made — and so began an unlikely 35-year relationship.

Author and (now) First Baptist Church of Cocoa Beach pastor, Ken Babington, is seemingly wise, knowledgeable and compassionate. And he succeeds in coming across as genuinely likable without an agenda, other than an honest and pure desire to reveal to readers the grace and forgiveness of God that's available through Jesus Christ — albeit via Chapman's rather dubious testimony. But based on the brief glimpses of Babington's personal life, the fistful of fast-forward accounts of his other ministry experiences and the numerous random inspirational anecdotes offered throughout, I'd wager a bet that there's at least three or four truly powerful books buried within, and worthy of escape from this particular mixed bag.

What I struggled with was not Babington. I would have actually enjoyed getting more of him from the book. What I struggled with was the perception that the central character might still be nuts. Mark David Chapman apparently began hearing and responding to "the little people" in his head at a very early age 250 pages later, I honestly didn't see where much has changed over the years.

The fact that Chapman remains quite possibly the most universally hated man currently on the planet is irrelevant to me. I struggle with anyone who plays the "God told me to do whatever" card while spewing memorized Scriptures and committing despicable acts and / or making dopey statements. If his salvation is truly legit (this time), all I can say is "praise Jesus" — there IS hope for us ALL! But it seems to me, Chapman lost any shred of credibly that he might have had after he "cried wolf" the first time. Hence, my concern here, is that Mark David Chapman's "testimony" will actually be perceived by the World as a yellow penalty flag on the field setting "Team Jesus" back 15 yards. 

Spreading the "Good News" of Jesus Christ is honorable and admirable. The value in showing the goodness, grace and forgiveness of God to everyone around the world  immeasurable, indeed. And for that, Ken Babington scores high marks here. And I encourage him wholeheartedly to continue sharing his personal stories based on the real life (and likely more effective) testimonies of the others he's encountered while involved in his various ministry endeavors. 

-Christopher Long
(October 2015)

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Not My God on Amazon
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