Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

Megan Hill | October 23, 2015

A few years ago when our conservative evangelical Presbyterian church moved into a new building, I lobbied my pastor-husband to have the sign painted with the words: “All Are Welcome.” He was sympathetic but ultimately unwilling. “People will think we’re Unitarians,” he said. I sighed. He was right. But it saddened me—saddens me still—that somehow the liberal church got the copyright on that slogan.

I felt similarly wistful when I picked up Nadia Bolz-Weber’s bestselling new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People. In it Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran pastor, celebrates the diverse people who have wandered into her Denver church and found fellowship there. I read the book with a few nods—yes, my church has people like that, too. And I read with more than a few sighs—why are stories of welcoming the outcast generally acknowledged as the exclusive property of mainline Christianity?

Let me be clear from the start: there are seriously offensive things about Accidental Saints. I’m not going to spend time critiquing Bolz-Weber’s ministerial credentials, her prolific use of four-letter words, her salute to homosexuality, or her irreverent—even blasphemous—tone. Given these things, many potential readers would be wise to never open Accidental Saints at all.

In this review, though, I want to engage…

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