Book Review: Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge (Part I)

This post marks the 8th stop on a 9 day blog tour on John Eldredge’s new book, Beautiful Outlaw.  If you’d like to review the previous stops on the tour here are the links:

Though I didn’t intend to write multiple posts on Eldredge’s book, yesterday’s devotional contained comments on chapter 10 (Humility), and today’s post will focus purely on responding to chapter 12 (which is my assigned chapter).  Later this week I’ll do a wrap-up review of the entire book because I have some thoughts that really take me outside the scope of Chapter 12.  Having said that, this post is titled “Part I” because “Part II” is yet to come.

Beautiful Outlaw is a book examining the character of Jesus, but from a perspective many of us have probably never considered.  Each of the first 11 chapters could really be read independently of each other, almost as short essays on a different aspect of Jesus’ character: his playfulness, his generosity, his honesty, his humility, his cunning, and so on.  But Chapter 12 marks a transition in the book – no longer are the chapters separate perspectives on the same Jesus, but Eldredge begins to draw everything together; it’s as if chapters 1-11 are all pieces of a puzzle and in chapter 12 we finally begin to put the pieces together.

This was actually a criticism I had of the book reading through it – that the chapters seemed very disjointed, in a sense. I felt I was being ripped from one topic to another as I read it without very little to tie them all together.  But then I arrived at chapter 12 and realized the frustration was was all worth it.  Totaling only 3.5 pages, chapter 12 reflects the shortest chapter in the book, but without it the book would fail miserably.  Chapter 12 offers a key turning point in the book – no longer do we just look at these different aspects of Christ’s character, but we draw them all together under the term “Beautiful”, and then prepare the way for more fully experiencing Christ (which begins in chapter 13 – so check back tomorrow for the link to the final stop on the blog tour!)  Eldredge won me over much more to his book in chapter 12, and I want to share where it happened….  Eldredge shares the story of the woman at Bethany who anointed Jesus’ head with an expensive perfume shortly before his death.  The disciples criticized the woman, but Christ praised her, telling the disciples she had done, “a beautiful thing.”  And then he writes the following (as a summary not only of this story but, as I read it, the first 11 chapters of his book):

“All of this is merely entertaining unless it opens the door for us to experience Jesus.  The best thing we can do now is pause, before we are saturated with more information about Jesus, and being to discover him for ourselves.  Experience him personally in these ways.

“Come and see,” as Phillip said to Nathaniel (John 1:46).  Come and see for yourself.”

So for those who feel like they are laboring through chapters 1-11, realize that Chapter 12 offers the turning point in the book.  Push through your frustration – don’t give up – because it all starts to make sense once you get to these 3.5 short pages.

For the record, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge (Part I)

  1. Pingback: Disruptive Honesty | More: Love. Life. Action.

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge « Thomas R Feller, Jr.

  3. Pingback: Best Books for 2011 « Thomas R Feller, Jr.

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