Book Review: Being The Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World That Says You Shouldn’t By Stephen McAlipine

26 Oct 2021

By Tanwin Tanoto


It is good to be bad.

Christianity has had the privilege of being the good guy a few generations ago. Where many laws were derived from Christians ethics, morals, and values. Where Christianity morality and identity was assumed and was never challenged. Today, however, Christians are increasingly viewed as the bad guy. More and more laws were made that lie outside the morals and values of Christianity. Our views are considered hostile and unloving. Suddenly, we become the bad guy. Our beliefs are not merely seen as wrong but dangerous.

“Christianity is no longer an option; it’s a problem.”

This book is written from the perspective of a Christian writer who lives in 21st century post-Christian western society – in this case, Australia. Which I found to be very helpful. It is an honest and raw look at how Christianity is seen in Australia today. But, instead of telling us to stop being the bad guys; McAlpine outlines how to be the bad guys. How to be the best bad guy we can be. This book is a wake-up call for Christians in Australia.

McAlpine divides this book into three major sections: How we got to be the bad guys, what being the bad guy looks like, and how to be the best bad guy we can be. In each section, McAlpine uses biblical, historical, and socio-cultural narratives to bring forth his arguments. He argues that we are being offered a rival gospel: “A narrative that seeks first to expose the Christian gospel as bad news, and then to replace it with much-needed good news.” This fake good news is the replication of the kingdom vision of the good life – human rights, dignity, freedom, love, and equality – but all without Jesus at the centre. The world where the individual is the one enthroned in this new kingdom.

So how should we respond when we are the bad guys? How should the best bad guy behave? Spoiler alert: McAlpine argues that we should rejoice! Instead of being angry, outraged, or threatened, we should embrace our bad guys’ identity and rejoice.  This is the joy that is front and centre in Christian communities throughout history.

On the socio-cultural side of the arguments, McAlpine addresses the hot topics in today’s society: gender identity, cancel culture, victimhood, self-actualisation, and authenticity. In each topic, McAlpine contrasts the view of the world with the view of the bible. Instead of being dismissive or hostile to those views, McAlpine acknowledges them as real issues. He just shows that those views are often counter-gospels. Then by unpacking the bible, he walks us through how to be the best bad guy by showing us the true gospel views on those issues.

In summary, this is an excellent and relevant book on the tension of being a Christian in the world that views us as the bad guys. It is honest in telling us how we are viewed but it is also encouraging that we don’t need to change that bad guy perspective. We just need to be good at being the bad guy. Let us all be the best bad guy we can be.

“We must cultivate exemplary, grace-filled and generous lives that challenge any allegation that our beliefs lead us to be mean-spirited, hostile and dangerous.”


Read another of Tanwin’s reviews HERE.