Q&A an interview with the author
After years of living with a set of religious demands that he could never live up to, Fil Anderson found himself spiritually bankrupt and emotionally drained. Following a crash-and-burn in professional ministry, he found relief in learning to be with God rather than doing for God. Instead of desperation, he found healing, and a rich new life with God.
What prompted you to write Breaking the Rules?
Fil Anderson: The first "nudge" came shortly after the release of my book Running on Empty during a visit with a close friend. Having read about my three decades-long pursuit of the Christian life and the painful realization that my pursuit wasn’t taking me where I longed to go—deeper into a nurturing and life-giving relationship with God—she graciously wanted to thank me for telling my story. Yet it was apparent that she also wanted to hear more. So after describing how my religious striving had left me spiritually bankrupt and emotionally drained she leaned forward and posed a simple question: "Have you told me the whole story, or is there more?"
My stunned silence must’ve implied to her an answer. "Fil, if there is more of your story than you’ve told, for your own sake and for the sake of others, I hope you’ll dig deeper and tell us more."
Looking back, I guess it was my friend’s urgent plea to dig deeper that prompted me to write Breaking the Rules.
How have you struggled with religion? And what did you mean when you said religion lied to you?
Fil: I’m convinced that everyone enters life with a proud, natural, uncontrollable urge to make their own life better. And so, at an early age, I became convinced that religion’s self-salvation blueprint provided the best plan for satisfying that urge. Thus, swallowing it hook, line and sinker, religion became the center of my life. It was a brilliantly designed and seductively attractive marketing program whereby following Jesus was reduced to following doctrinal beliefs and morals commandments while promising me a better life.
Who is Breaking the Rules written for?
Fil: Breaking the Rules is written for anyone who longs to be loved. For this reason, I believe this book was written for everyone...
- Tired & weary souls burned out by the demands & pressures that unbending rule-keeping religion requires.
- People sick and tired of religious hypocrisy.
- "Churched" people frustrated & disappointed that their life hasn’t been transformed.
- Religious people needing encouragement or permission to trade the rigors of religious performance for intimacy with Jesus.
- People that religion tells its followers to avoid.
- People being destroyed by their mistakes and foolish choices.
Breaking the Rules truly is written for everyone... prostitutes and Pharisees, rich and poor, porn stars and preachers, gays and straights, Republicans and Democrats, head cases and scholars, adulterers and saints, losers and successes of all kinds. It’s written for people who need to quit trusting in their own ability to live for Jesus, and simply trust in Jesus instead; whose astonishing invitation is simply "Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you" (John 15:4 ).
What do you hope readers take away from Breaking the Rules?
Fil: The first step to a richer, fuller life is giving up the lie that living in intimate union with Jesus depends on you. The life God uniquely designed for us to live and for which our hearts naturally yearn cannot be achieved by means of our own effort, no matter how disciplined we may be. Instead it comes only by way of a few prepositions, with, in and for, what Eugene Peterson calls "prepositional participation." These prepositions join us to God and God’s action. They are essentially the ways and means of being in on and participating in what God is doing. With, in and for. These are the authoritative connecting, enabling, relationship-forging words that set us on the course God designed us to follow.