John Pavlovitz’s bottom line: Faith should be a life of love

The popular blogger speaks to the pain of Christians who are disappointed with the failures of the church.

If you follow religious commentary online, it’s hard to ignore John Pavlovitz. His blog, Stuff That Needs to Be Said, recently surpassed 100 million total page views. In 2013, a year after launching the blog, Pavlovitz was fired from his church for his “provocative” articles. He remains provocative today. “The steady stream of vitriol I receive from professed Christians who identify as MAGA or QAnon or Republican is completely understandable,” he wrote in a November 5 post. “They’re coming face to face with the sobering reality that they are antithetical to Jesus.”

Pavlovitz describes himself as “a theological mutt.” He summarizes his spiritual journey as a “five-decade pilgrimage . . . from obedient Catholic altar boy to disenchanted teen to hopeful agnostic to defiant atheist to overconfident United Methodist megachurch pastor to deconstructing progressive to humanist Christian to whoever and whatever I am today.”

I’ve appreciated Pavlovitz’s blog posts in recent years, especially his searing and fearless critique of Donald Trump and the evangelicals who love, support, and seemingly worship him. I also enjoyed his previous book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community. Still, when I first heard about If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk, I wasn’t inclined to read it. The title felt contrived and superficial.