Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris

“The message of Christian orthodoxy isn’t that I am right and someone else is wrong.  It’s that I am wrong and God is filled with grace…How can we be arrogant about a truth that is completely outside of anything we’ve done?  If we had earned the gospel, we could be arrogant about it.  If we had somehow created the truth, then we could copyright it and control other people’s access to it.  But the truth is a gift from God to us.  It has changed us only because he extended his mercy to us.”  In this short book, Joshua Harris attempts to balance the difficulty task of orthodoxy – or believing in ultimate truth – with humility – or lack of arrogance (about said truth).  The book is an easy read – only four chapters totaling 61 pages, but it is a worthwhile read.


Harris does a great job of calling all to task – from those who would bend the truth the fit a modern age or “reach the lost” to those who hold so fast to truth that they seem to forget part of that truth is to “love your neighbor” (Mark 12:31); my guess is regardless of your theological position, denominational affiliation, or political persuasion there is something in this book that will cause you to shout “Amen!” and something in this book that will offend and (hopefully) convict you.

One quote that brought me to my knees in worship was, “When we know the truth about God – his love, his power, his greatness, his holiness, his mercy – it doesn’t leave us boasting.  It leaves us amazed.  It leaves us in awe of truth.  It leaves us humbled in the presence of grace.”  I find myself even now reflecting on the awesomeness of God!  This past week in Bible study I was having a conversation with someone that eventually led to discussions of the role of The Law and the nature of grace and salvation; at one point in the conversation I looked at this person and said, “This is so exciting!  Why is it that when we come to church on Sundays we don’t get excited about this?”  I found this week more times than I can count instances where I was reminded of the truth about God and his ways and I was awed and humbled as I sat in the presence of His grace.

One final quote that also has had me thinking is the following:

“Some Christians, driven by a desire to reach lost people, cross the line from trying to reach our culture and start trying to impress our culture.  And when a person is motivated by a desire to impress this fallen culture, very quickly all that God has to say becomes, instead of a precious truth, a hindrance.  The Christians who go this way become slaves to the trends, to the values, to the ideals of a spiritually lost culture.”

Without getting on a soapbox and preaching a sermon here, I have to say one of ways I see this statement living out is in how many churches choose to “do church”, in particular the constant battle over music in church.  Many would be wise to reflect on the words Harris writes here and answer the question, “Do I seek to reach or do I seek to impress?”  The answer may surprise us.

Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone and everyone – particularly because it is so short (though that doesn’t mean it’s not deep).  For the record, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.


Book Review: How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek WH Thomas

When one conversations arise regarding the book in the Bible that most clearly teaches doctrine and theology Romans immediately comes to the forefront.  Some of the deepest chapters in Romans are found in the middle of the book, with Chapter 8 being one of those chapters.  How the Gospel Brings Us All The Way Home by Derek WH Thomas takes us, verse-by-verse, through Romans chapter 8.  While the chapters are short and easy to read (meaning their syntax and word choice are not difficult to follow), each paragraph is packed with deep truths regarding God and our relationship with Him – like the entire book of Romans (and especially chapter 8), one could read this commentary over and over and over and still find new insights.

For those unfamiliar with Romans 8, it is the section in scripture where Paul exposits truths such as

  • There is no condemnation in Christ
  • We are set free by the Spirit
  • The Spirit dwells in us
  • We are co-heirs with Chris
  • God is our Daddy (“Abba”)
  • Present sufferings do not compare with future glories
  • The entire earth is experiencing birth pains because of the fall
  • The Spirit prays on our behalf
  • All things work for good for God’s children
  • The purpose of our election
  • No one can bring any charge against us
  • No one can condemn us
  • Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ
  • We are more than conquerors in Christ

The book was written after the author delivered a series of sermons on Romans 8, and, as such, each chapter reads like a concise, well-delivered sermon.  Each of the bullets above is explored in the book, and, as such, this would be a great book for both new Christians in need of a solid foundation and veteran believers who need a good reminder of the foundations of our faith.  I’ll give this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it (I wish I would have read it years ago and it is certainly one I’ll go back and read again!)  I was honesty surprised at how easy the book was to read – so many theology books read like seminary textbooks, but this one was very conversational in tone and easy to understand.  While a certain level of basic doctrine would help one understand it, most terms are defined within the book itself and so it would be easily navigable by just about anyone.

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

Corporate Sin

This past week in my early-morning men’s Bible study we began looking at the book of Nehemiah, and the following verse just jumped off the page at me (1:5-7):

And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.

The underlined verses are the ones I want to reflect on.. Let’s put this passage in context.  Israel was taken captivity by the Babylonians back in 586 BC; after 70 years a group of Jews returns to the promised land, and at some point a man named Ezra goes back to rebuild the temple.  A few years after that a young man named Nehemiah becomes the cup bearer for the king – you know, the one who gets to drink the king’s drinks before the king to make sure they aren’t poisoned!  Anyway, some of Nehemiah’s friends go off to Israel and then return and Nehemiah asks how things are going.  But what he hears isn’t what he expects: things are not as good as he had hoped.  Now Nehemiah wants to return to help rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.  The prayer recorded here in Nehemiah 1 is his plea that sets the stage for him to lead a group back to Jerusalem.  But notice how he starts: after acknowledging God’s power and love Nehemiah goes on to confession.  And not just any ol’ simple confession, mind you – no, he confesses things like corruption and failure to “keep the commandments” God himself gave.

But here’s the really interesting part: he includes himself in the confession.  Notice the underlined words: “Even I and my father’s house have sinned.”  This prayer actually reminded me of Daniel’s prayer, as recorded in Daniel 9.   Daniel prays the same thing, saying, “we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled….we have not listened to your servants the prophets…To us, O LORD, belongs open shame…because we have sinned against you…”  I think you get the idea here: both Nehemiah and Daniel include themselves in the sin committed by Israel.

I think this is something we miss today, this idea of individually accountability for corporate sin.  We do a great job in the church of looking at individual sin and calling people to repent for what they have done individually.  We talk all the time about how Jesus came to forgive individuals of their sin.  And these are all true, but there’s another equally important truth that we don’t every discuss: rarely do we talk, at least in evangelical circles, of corporate sin and our individual involvement in it.

I think that’s a reflection of how our culture has infected our theology.  As Americans we are very much focused on the individual and not as much on the corporate.  The evangelical church does a great job of pointing out the corporate sins in our culture, but we don’t like to include ourselves in that mix.  In an effort to not distract from my argument by picking a hot-button moral issue of the day to illustrate my point, let’s look at slavery, which I believe all my readers (regardless of whether they are on the left or the right) can agree on.  Slavery was evil and the fact this country allowed it at all was a monstrous sin.

Let’s assume, for a minute, that slavery was still allowed on the basis of one’s race.  Let’s also assume that the church by-and-large did not approve of or condone slavery but in fact stood against it.  Let’s assume that church leaders constantly brought it to the attention of the public, calling those who kept slaves sinners and calling on politicians to outlaw slavery.  (I say assume because we know that even the church didn’t always see slavery this way)  Now, here’s the question: do you think you’d hear the Church including itself in prayers of confession of slavery, or would we confess that “America has sinned and walked away from you, Lord God” while at the same time removing ourselves from that “America that sins”?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t see that happening.  The church suffers from a Pontius Pilot complex – we warn sinners of their sin and then we wash our hands of them, saying “It’s their choice.”  We confess that “America” has sinned, but we wash our hands of any involvement by saying, “America may do this, but I do not.”  Yet that’s not how God sees it.  As evidenced by both Nehemiah and Daniel, we need to confess our involvement in the sin around us.  “Wait,” you say, “I don’t own slaves!”  That’s right, you don’t.  But are you trying to tell me that Daniel himself “acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from [God’s] commandments and rules”?  Are you suggesting that the one who was willing to face a den of lions rather than not pray is one who did “not listen to the prophets”?  Absolutely not!  Daniel and Nehemiah were moral pillars of their day, yet when they confessed their sins to Almighty God they included themselves in the sins of the nation.  And they included themselves in the consequences of that sin.

Corporate and generational sin are very real in the Bible – and their influence was not magically removed with the arrival of the new covenant.  How much of what we are suffering today as a country/state/city/church/family is a direct result of our corporate sins?  It is pride that says, “They may have done that sin by I didn’t.”  No, “I” (you) did, because we are a part of the body.  That’s not to say that God will not hold slave holders and traders to a different standard than he will those who are more passively involved because I do believe a just God will punish evil doers accordingly and differentiate consequences based on our involvement (or lack-there-of).  But here’s the real question: Do you really want to be standing in front of God trying to explain how so-and-so is worse than you are – how their participation in the sin was much more than yours?  Do you really want to just be “a little less sinful” than the next guy?  There’s an old joke about how to out-run a bear: just be faster than the slowest person in the group.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just be less sinful than the worse person on Earth.  Yet when we wash our hands of the corporate sin of the family/state/country to which we belong that’s exactly what we’re saying.

“But how can anyone ever be good enough for God?” someone’s objecting.  That’s the point: no one can.  All have sinned, the Bible tells us; through Adam all are dead (you didn’t eat the forbidden fruit in the garden, yet you are and will pay the price for Adam’s sin).  But Jesus tells us that what is impossible for man is possible for God. We can’t ever be good enough for God’s standards – because all of us are so infected and intertwined that even if one of us could live a perfect life we’d still be responsible for the corporate sins of the group to which we belong.

Enter grace: “For it is by grace you have been saved,” writes Paul; and I think that both Nehemiah and Daniel understood that, too.

God’s Favorites

For those who don’t live on the East Coast, last week Hurricane Irene visited Eastern NC and did quite a bit of damage – at our house we lost a 45′ tree, part of a fence, and a ton of shingles off our roof, not to mention power for 12 hours and phone and internet for three days.  But we weren’t even the worst hit.  We had friends here without power for 4-5 days (one couple in our neighborhood is STILL without power after 12 days!), trees fell on houses and literally killed people, and schools and businesses were shut down for at least two days (some districts are still out two weeks later!).  It’s not that Irene was a terribly strong storm (it was only a Category 1), it’s that it was a BIG and SLOW storm (roughly 900 miles from north to south and moving at only 14 mph here).  We had sustained hurricane force winds for, well, 20+ hours.

It hit two Friday’s ago overnight and all day on that Saturday.  On Sunday church was cancelled (as were most churches since roads were still impassable because of downed power lines, trees, and localized flooding), so when I got up on Sunday AM I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to see how everyone had fared.  I loaded the girls in the stroller and the three of us set out about 8:00am to see the world outside our four walls (Melissa was still sleeping).  I have to say that the entire time I was just in awe at the devastation around the area; below are some pictures I took while on my walk around the neighborhood.

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As we walked Chloe kept saying over and over (and she said it for days afterwards), “This storm made a mess, Daddy.”  The overwhelming response I had while I walked was just thanksgiving and praise to God that he protected my family, and at one point I said to Chloe, “Chloe, do you realize how much Jesus protected us yesterday?”  And she said, “Yes.”

As I spoke with other people in our church and at work I was amazed at the stories I heard – stories that I used to just hear on the TV or read in the newspaper but I was not experiencing first-hand.  I also spoke with many people who said they felt guilty because they had no damage – not even a loss of power.  I heard myself saying (and hearing other people say), “We were very blessed that we didn’t have any more damage than we did.”  And we spoke with the girls repeatedly about how important it is to pray and how God answered our prayers for safety and protection during the storm.

But here’s where I struggle: I also know that at the same time I say these words (“We were blessed” or “God answered our prayers”) people will naturally hear that if they suffered significant loss then they are not “blessed” or God did not answer “their prayers”.  Several days after the storm I was speaking with a couple from my church and I made the comment to them, “We were kept safe and we were blessed – but it wasn’t because of anything I did or any value I have – it was completely the grace of God.”

Too often I hear people shout how God saved them from disaster and protected them from harm – which they should proclaim – but we need to be careful our choice of words does not also communicate a sense we are “God’s favorites” – because he doesn’t have any.  At the same time, we need to accept the reality that sometimes the disaster/tragedy itself is God’s work.  Job said, “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”  We love to talk about what the Lord gives – but read that verse again.  It doesn’t say Satan takes away, it doesn’t say we loose it, it says “The Lord has taken it away.”

Now, here’s the mystery: do I believe God answered our prayers for safety?  Yes.  Do I believe those prayers were powerful?  Yes.  Do I believe the reason we didn’t suffer any major damage to our house or life is because of those prayers?  Now that’s the hard one.  While I want to say “Yes, absolutely”, I also can not ignore the fact that there are people out there who prayed for safety and yet suffered extreme loss.  Shoot, 12 years ago I prayed for God to heal my sister from cancer and she died – and even Jesus prayed to avoid the cross but his prayer wasn’t answered… By saying “Yes, absolutely” to the question “Is the reason we didn’t suffer any major damage because of those prayers” it implies that the power to stop the storm rests in my hands – that if I prayed just a little less then disaster would strike, but thank God I prayed enough.  It gets us all mixed up in this whole works-for-salvation mess that I want to stay far away from. What I refuse to accept and believe (translation: what I don’t have enough faith to believe in) is that the power of prayer rests in the strength of the one praying (translation: if I had just prayed a little bit harder or a little bit longer then God would have answered the prayer OR it’s a good thing I prayed as much as I did because if I hadn’t then God wouldn’t have heard).

Now before I get attacked from multiple sides with scripture verses and teachings from the Bible that say God answers our prayers and that the reason we don’t have is because we don’t ask (yes, I’ve read the book of James), I know there is a very scriptural truth that prayer moves God’s heart and causes him to act.  Jesus did say that whatever we ask for “in his name” will be “given to [us].”  Yes, I know that – so cool your jets and take a deep breath before you call me a heretic 🙂  Here’s what I am saying: The power of prayer rests not in me (or us) but in the one to whom we pray.  And, what I’ve learned over time, is that the number one thing (or person) prayer changes is me.  I have to believe that when I pray for safety God keeps me safe because he redefines my definition of safety; when I pray for healing God heals because he redefines my definition of healing to match his.  In Isaiah I read, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’”  Or as the NIV translates it, “Neither are my ways your ways.”  God doesn’t operate in ways that often make sense to us!  Let’s go back to my sister for a second.  The fact is she died.  The reality is that God healed her forever – and what I prayed for was healing.  In a very real sense God answered my prayer – maybe not how I thought I wanted it answered, but he answered my prayer.  And the real answer he gave me was that he changed my perspective on life, sickness, death, and prayer through the whole process to align more closely to his perspective.

Too often we (and when I say “we” I probably mean “me”) approach praying to God like the ancient rubbing the genie in the bottle issue – if we just say the “magic word” then we’ll get what “we wish” for.  Sometimes I think we even reinforce this by how we (again, perhaps I should say I) raise our kids: so often while teaching manners we tell them that the word “please” is what?  The “magic word”!  Until they say “the magic word” we ignore them, and then once they say “the magic word” – BAM!  They get what they ask for.  It’s the genie in the bottle routine played out multiple times a day in every household in America with children in it!  We raise our kids this way because we were raised this way – so is it any wonder we start to think God owes us something when we ask “in Jesus’ name,” like tacking on “Jesus” at the end of our prayers is the “magic word” and divine equivalent of saying “please” to our parents?  Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong to train children to use good manners – don’t get lost and distracted by the analogy here – what I’m saying is we can’t approach God in the same way we often teach our children to approach us.

And therein lies the real problem.  Mark Driscoll compares talking with God to a toddler talking with his daddy – and I can think of no better analogy than that one.  But we also need to get rid of the junk we put into that picture (like the “magic word” issue) and look deeper and see the heart of the daddy and the heart of the child.  That’s the point of the image – but first we need to get past the baggage we bring into it.

Now I’m not trying to be super-spiritual or anything, but here’s the question I found myself asking after the storm: “Is the reason we (translation: I) didn’t suffer any further damage is because my faith wasn’t strong enough to withstand any more?  And if the answer to that is yes then shame on me.”  Now I’m not going to say that the reason I didn’t suffer any more loss than I did is because my faith is “too weak” because I also know that God does – for his own reasons and because of no value of my own – protects us and blesses us, so I’m not going to get all guilt-ridden because I didn’t suffer a major loss.  So the question becomes, how can we view even the disasters as a blessing from God.  Look at Job’s words again: he had lost everything except his own life (but even that wasn’t great because of all the health problems he had), but he was able to praise the Lord even in disaster.

In the New Testament we read to give thanks in “everything” and rejoice “at all times”.  Those are two verses I think were meant to be taken literally but we rationalize away (even those of us who claim to take the Bible “literally”!).  So here’s a radical thought maybe we really are supposed to rejoice in suffering.

This post is getting very long and I fear it’s degenerating into rambling, so I’ll wrap it up.  Here’s the question we all (myself included) need to come up with an answer to (how many times have I said that in this post?): Do I believe in a God who is all-powerful and in control at all times or do I believe in a God who relegates the outcome of situations to me, a sinful, weak, selfish human?  The answer to that question will dictate how we live every minute of our lives.  Either we rest in the grace of God or we don’t; either we trust in God’s goodness or we don’t; either we believe prayer changes us or we believe that when things don’t go as planned it means our prayer and faith just weren’t strong enough to change him; either we believe our perspective is sometimes (often?) wrong or God’s is; either we believe we are in control or God controls it all.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going with God on this one.

Book Review: Defeat Fear Forever by Christina Li

One of the greatest advantages of blogging specifically to review books is that I’m able to read a lot of books I normally wouldn’t read on my own, partly because when I choose books I choose stuff I may not spend money on, and partly because some stuff literally just lands in my lap.  This has been a great experience over the past several months.  Today I finished reading Defeat Fear Forever by Christina Li, one of those books that literally just landed in my in-box to review.  Ms. Li’s first book can be purchased by visiting her web page, and she also has a blog which can be accessed by clicking here.

Now for my review.  Over all, I found the book rather simplistic and lacking in depth, not to mention some significant theological issues; I also found her reliance on the KJV to be cumbersome to read through at the beginning of the book, though, to be fair, she also quotes heavily from the Amplified and the Message (KJV at the beginning, with more Amplified in the middle, and the Message in the latter third).  In terms of readability, her writing is very conversational and easy to understand, though when Bible verses are quoted back-to-back in multiple translations I did find myself wishing she had chosen one over the other instead of making me wade through two different ways of saying the same thing.

My biggest disappointment in the book is that there was no clinical examination of fear, no exploration of the psychological sources of it.  Granted, the book was clearly written for Christians (the gospel message is not even introduced until the latter 1/3 of the book), focusing solely on the spiritual aspects of fear without giving it any context psychologically left too much up to the reader to understand exactly what she was referring to.  For example, while Ms. Li touches on the difference between positive fear (“fear of the Lord”) and negative fear, there could have been a much deeper study of these two terms that would have made the book easier to read.  Each chapter ends with a summary paragraph (or paragraphs) that begin with something along the lines of “In this chapter, we discussed…”  and for the first three or four chapters when I got to that paragraph I literally found myself thinking, “Oh, so that’s what this chapter was about?  That’s not what I thought.”

While I understand that there are differences of opinion within Christianity in regards to theology, there are three major concerns I have with this book, and, over and above my criticism above, are why I would not recommend it to any of my friends or family.  Before I mention those, let me be clear that I fully accept that Ms. Li is a sister of mine in Christ and I am not suggesting she is not.  I am simply taking a different opinion on three theological issues (one which I consider rather significant).  The first is her position on speaking in tongues, the second is the implication that we can loose our salvation, and the third is her over-glorification of man in God’s eyes.  Without going into a deep theological treatise here defending my own views, I’ll simply show hers and say how my disagreement impacts my understanding of the book.

Let’s start with tongues.  While many evangelicals will say that tongues has ceased, I am not one of those people.  My issue with Ms. Li is not that she believes in the gift of tongues or speaks in tongues herself.  My issue is that at multiple times throughout the book she heavily implies that tongues are a requirement for salvation.  Take this statement from Chapter 6, where she presents the gospel message:

“The obvious first thing to do is repent of your sins (say you’re sorry for all the bad things you’ve done), get baptized in Jesus’ name, and receive the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, Acts 2:38”

Again, I have no issue with speaking in tongues, but in this passage, and several others throughout the book, Ms. Li seems to suggest that tongues are a sign that we are saved, which begs the question: If I don’t speak in tongues am I not saved?  And if that is the case it is simply not Biblical teaching.  Paul himself addresses the issue of tongues quite extensively in his epistles to the Corinthians and flat out tells us that not everyone speaks in tongues – it is a gift to some but not to others.  To list speaking in tongues as a requirement in the same sentence as “repent of your sins” during  a gospel call is to put a requirement on salvation that just isn’t in the scripture.  Later on in the book she retells an incident where she went in to pray for a friend in the hospital and wasn’t sure what to say to the person, so she prayed first in tongues and “waited for the interpretation.”  (Chapter 9).  While I’ll be honest and say I don’t have this gift of the Spirit, I will say my understanding of Scripture is that the person who speaks in tongues is never the interpreter for what was said.  Perhaps I’m wrong on this second point, and if I am any of you readers are free to point that out.  This is not my main issue with the tongues issue.

My second issue is that suggestion that we can loose our salvation.  Again, I’ll quote Ms. Li in Chapter 6:

“Once a person has been saved, he/she needs to take steps that will insure he/she stays saved.”

As with tongues, the doctrine of eternal security is one that (unfortunately) divides people and denominations.   But it is a doctrine I subscribe to.  So let’s be clear on this: Scripture clearly teaches that once we are saved we can not loose our salvation, so there are no “steps” we can or must take to “insure [we] stay saved” – it’s simply not Biblical.  Why is this an issue?  In a book about overcoming fear I find it absurd that the author would place forth a doctrine which should rightly contribute to fear (ie, “I’m afraid because I don’t know if I’m saved or not.  Did I do enough today to insure my salvation?  What about yesterday?  Have I confessed all my sins?”)  This one doctrinal position seems to me to make her entire thesis impossible (that being, we can overcome fear forever).

Finally, what I call the over-glorification of man in God’s eyes.  Perhaps this is symantix, but, again, it is significant.  Ms. Li throughout the book seems to have a very high opinion of humans, writing that

“In fact, He [God] wants me to sit on His throne – next to Him!” (Chapter 6)

Now, again, this may not be that big of an issue, but I read no where in scripture where we are told we will sit next to God on His throne.  God is the only one who will sit on God’s throneYes, we as humans are the crown of creation and we will serve as judges over angels, but we will not sit on God’s throne.  She talks about the difference between vertical and horizontal relationships (ie, Master/Servant and then two equals); the book indicates that God wants to have both a vertical and a horizontal relationship with us, but while Christ does call us his brother we are never equal to Christ – we will share in his glory, but never in the fulness of his authority.  She also mentions that you and I should consider Jesus our fiance’ because, in essence, we are since we are his bride.  While in some ways this may be technically true, we do need to remember that the Church is the bride of Christ, not individual people.  Additionally, at several places in the book she flat out writes that we should not trust our feelings, but then in Chapter 8 we’re told to tell God “the desires of your heart” so that we can know what God wants for us.  Which way is it?  Are we supposed to ignore those feelings we have or are we supposed to look to them for guidance?  Personally, I think there’s a little truth in each answer – but there was no in-depth treatment or examination of this in the book.

So why are these three issues enough to push me away from the book when there are plenty of good things in it (see below for some great quotes)?  In the case of tongues, Ms. Li is placing a requirement on salvation that just doesn’t exist in Scripture.  This is the modern day equivalent of the first century requirement that Gentiles be circumcised to be saved.  We are trusting in something outside of the grace of God for our salvation.  In the case of eternal security, I have already pointed out that without a belief in that doctrine we have something to fear and that fear can never be put to rest, which is a direct contradiction to her thesis.  In the case of the third, by raising the view of humans to such a high level we run the risk of becoming God ourselves (note, Ms. Li does NOT say or imply that and I don’t believe she feels that way, but it will be a logical conclusion of someone who is not well-grounded in scripture to reach).

There were some great testimonies of the power of God throughout the book (the story of her husband preaching at the prison and the story of the little girl who couldn’t walk are two of them), and some great quotes that are worth sharing.  My favorite two highlights are the statement in chapter 2 that “Fear is a choice” and her final conclusion that “Fearless living isn’t really hard.  It’s simply choosing to trust the Lord no matter what the circumstances around you are.”

But because of the theological issues I have with the book and the sense that the book lacks some real spiritual and psychological depth, I can not in good conscious recommend it to anyone.  A wonderful book worth reading is Robert McGee’s Search for Significance.  While not specifically on fear, it does explore fear and the reasons behind fear as well as how fear affects all areas of our lives, helping us to understand the root causes of our insecurities and fears, bringing specific Biblical promises to counter the lies we have been led to believe.  If you’re looking for a book to read on this subject that is the one to invest money in.  I’ll give this book 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Note: I received this book free from the author specifically to review on this blog.  I was not required to write a positive review of it.  I am disclosing this to comply with FTC regulations.