Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Jen Hatmaker and the Made-to-Order Gospel

Jen Hatmaker and the Made-to-Order Gospel

Describing herself as a “Hippie-dippy, Big Love Jesus Type,” Hatmaker describes how God loves us, “like a crazed, obsessed parent who will never shut up about us.” The impression is that I need to look inside myself and realize how adorable I am, rather than deny myself and pick up my cross and follow Jesus.

Hatmaker assures me that “I deserve goodness. Full stop.” She continues, “Because you are a cherished human being created by a God who loves you. Because you bear the imprint of heaven. You are worthy of honor; every person is.”

I agree that because we’re made in God’s image, every person has inherent worth and dignity. This is a glorious truth! Yet Hatmaker omits the part about how we’ve managed to distort that image with our sinful choices. Though she acknowledges human evil, her answer isn’t repentance. Rather, it’s to realize that even the worst evildoers still “have something precious at their core.” Readers are encouraged to practice “self-compassion,” not self-denial.

Where’s the Bible’s message that we’ve sinned against God, which causes us to be separated from him? Where’s the truth that though we deserve death, we can be justified by faith in Jesus and reconciled to God, who then adopts us into his family? The saddest part of getting our condition misdiagnosed is that we lose the beauty of gospel’s cure.

What Is Love?

Love, according to Hatmaker, should be defined by observing the effects an action has on a person’s feelings. Rather than appealing to an objective standard to define love, she writes:

I lack all objectivity. I evaluate the merit of every idea based on how it bears upon actual people. . . . [W]hen “loving God” results in pain, exclusion, harm, or trauma to people, then we are absolutely doing the first part wrong. It is not God in error but us.

This is a fundamental pillar of her worldview, which she credits as being paramount in helping change her mind on issues related to same-sex marriage.

Such logic gives unequivocal permission to judge every biblical position and worldview question through the lens of emotion. This is a dangerous way to define love because Jesus taught that all manner of evil resides in my heart and emotions. Scripture teaches that I can only discern the will of God once my mind is transformed and renewed in Christ (Rom. 12:2).

According to the Bible, love is patient and kind—absolutely. But love also refuses to delight in evil; instead it rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). It is a defining characteristic of God himself (1 John 4:16). And God’s love can’t affirm or celebrate anything that contradicts his holiness. When love is plucked from its biblical context, and morality defined by personal desires, one is left with a gospel made in her own image. The only thing left is to “do the work” of self-discovery and improvement.

What Is Truth?

It’s no surprise, then, that Hatmaker redefines “truth” to be a relative catch-all word for what makes someone feel good. She writes, “[Truth] is super-pumped about what we love.” After connecting Jesus with truth, she adds that in Jesus, “everyone belongs . . . until everyone belongs, we’ve replaced truth with a lie.” This, she says, is the world Jesus envisioned.

I read this book with a friend who happened to also be reading through the Gospels at the same time. She mentioned how radically different Hatmaker’s description of how Jesus envisioned the world is from what Jesus actually taught. She noted the shocking nature of his words: “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). Sadly, when contrasted with Hatmaker’s description, Jesus is almost unrecognizable.

Jesus’s vision for the world isn’t that “everyone belongs.” He was clear that many will not only be excluded but will be separated from him for eternity. To enter his kingdom, we must be “born again” (John 3:3), be “born of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:5), and “do the will of my Father” (Matt. 7:21). Jesus describes a “narrow way” that only “few will find” (Matt. 7:13–14). Who will not inherit his kingdom? To “workers of lawlessness” who reject his free gift of salvation, Jesus will say, “Depart from me.” This might sound a bit jarring, but these are Jesus’s words. Not mine.

Consequences of Following a Fallen Heart

As already noted, Hatmaker offers some helpful advice. Unfortunately, though, she spends a good bit of time bashing the church, diminishing the clarity of Scripture, and downplaying the necessity of obedience to Jesus’s teachings. Instead of embracing the beauty of grace, she teaches a gospel of works. “Do the work” is the takeaway. Reminiscent of the Osteenian promise of “your best life now,” Fierce will leave the reader with nothing but herself to deal with the consequences of following her fallen heart.

Hatmaker seems sincere in her desire to encourage women to follow their dreams. She asks, “Dear reader, YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE. What if you die tomorrow having never given your dream a shot?” This is a good and sobering question. But for the Christian, the promise of eternal life shifts our focus from the short and temporary phase that happens on earth to the everlasting joy of heaven. To quote Jesus again: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19).

At the end of the day, Fierce doesn’t pass the scriptural proof test and should be read with utmost discernment. After all, if you die having never started that business, achieved that career goal, written that book, or created that great work of art, you possess the promise of eternity—life with your Creator who loves you and rescued you from your sin. And once you’ve died to yourself, confessed your sin, and given all the pieces of your life to Christ, he will give you a much better dream to follow. This not only awards you the hope of eternity; it offers you a much more viable path to finding real strength and freedom in this life.

This article originally appeared here.