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We all have a story. One thing all of stories unfortunately have in common is incidents of shame. To one degree or another, shame becomes part of virtually all of our stories. For some, it is not an incidental detail in a larger story but the bulk of the story itself.

Along these lines, Curt Thompson introduces his book The Soul of Shame: Retelling The Stories We Believe About Ourselves. He says, “This, then, is a book about the story of shame. The one we tell about it, the one it tells about us, and even more so the one God has been telling about all of us from the beginning. Most important, this book also examines how the story of the Bible offers us a way not only to understand shame but also to effectively put it to death, even if that takes a lifetime to accomplish” (12-13). He continues,

The premise of this book, then, is that shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to (1) corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and (2) disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity. These gifts include any area of endeavor that promotes goodness, beauty and joy in and for the lives of others, whether that be teaching our first graders, loving our spouse well, managing forests, conducting healing prayer services, creating a new medical technology, offering psychotherapy or composing symphonies (13)

From this premise, Thompson, a psychiatrist specializing on the intersection between interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) and spiritual formation, unfolds the story and definition of shame in the first chapter. In the following two chapters, he draws on his specialization in IPNB to help readers better understand the nature of shame at that level. This leads to a discussion in chapter 4 about our nature as storytelling creatures and chapter 5 then places this within the biblical narrative.

Starting in chapter 6, Thompson presents a path forward. Healing from shame requires vulnerability, and that tends to take place in community with others. He discusses here how the shame that we feel and have internalized often works against us when it comes to actually overcoming it (see for instance the Brene Brown TED talks). Chapter 7 gives readers ways to address their shame using Scripture. Chapter 8 takes this into community and how that can either nurture shame or be catalysts for healing. Chapter 9 finishes with an eschatological touch as Thompson casts vision for how our freedom from shame can lead to joyfully engage our various creative callings.

While I would take a few things here and there with a grain of theological salt, this is a valuable book for those engaged in ministry. You don’t have to be a full-time counselor to encounter people who are burdened by shame. You might even be so yourself. Thompson’s insights from IPNB, as well as the idea that shame can take on a life of its own to be put to demonic means (Thompson prefers personify evil) were my main takeaways from the book. I might have switched chapters 4 and 5 as well, giving the biblical background and foundation first, then expanding the idea of lives as storytelling creatures. On the whole though, this is a well written book that covers an important topic. I’d recommend giving it a read.


Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling The Stories We Believe About OurselvesDowners Grove, IL: IVP Academic, August 2015. 256 pp. Hardcover, $22.00.

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I have a fairly long interest in apologetics. I’m not actually sure when it started, but the skeleton was taking shape by the time I left Bible school and was put to the test while I worked at Starbucks. The bones got meat put on them while I was in seminary, and I would eventually win the apologetics award for my Th.M thesis. All during this time I was reading books on the subject, either content or method. But, in all that reading I never really came across a book quite like this one.

I’ve read a few Os Guinness books in the past, one at the direct recommendation of Chuck Swindoll when I talked to him after chapel (he enthusiastically told me to read The Call). Neither was directly about apologetics though. This book, is not directly about it either, at least in the sense that most people would think of a book being about apologetics. There is a chapter explain why we shouldn’t be after the latest and greatest techniques (chapter 2), but that’s often a feature of works on apologetics. There is no extended presentation of the viable evidence for Christianity, yet that doesn’t mean arguments aren’t made for its validity. And while technique is eschewed, there are two chapters on general approaches to persuasively interacting with nonbelievers (chapters 6 and 7).

In a word, Fool’s Talk: Recovering The Art of Christian Persuasion re-frames the motive and aims of the apologist slash evangelist. In an age where most everyone says “I post, therefore I am” (15) Guinness seeks to remedy “a central and serious shortcoming in Christian communication today” (16). Specifically, “we have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it” (17). “Persuasion” in this sense being “the art of speaking to people who, for whatever reason, are indifferent or resistant to what we have to say” (18).

This leads to the heart of the problem, which Guinness explains as a problem of the heart (18): “The fact is that much contemporary advocacy ignores the deeper understandings of the spiritual and philosophical ways in which people think through their faiths, change their faiths, and the impact of their cultures and their ways of life on their thinking and beliefs” (18). We won’t understand unbelief and so have difficulty persuasively explaining our beliefs. We also mistakenly assume people are open to what we have to say when increasingly that is not the case.

In the first two chapters, Guinness makes a case for creativity in our persuasion while also avoiding a reliance on techniques. In regards to the former, Guinness argues that our discourse must be cross-centered and cross-shaped. For the latter, Guinness suggests that “Technique is the devil’s bait for the Christian persuader today” (30). Because there is no such thing as “McApologetics” (32) we mustn’t offer a one-size fits all approach to our persuasion. Ultimately, persuasion is an art, not a science and in its creative form “is the art of truth, the art that truth inspires” (34). We need more cross talk than clever talk (39). Because creative presentation is spiritual and moral, in addition to being intellectual (43), we must avoid simple reliance on technique which is never neutral and “essentially soulless” (44).

Chapters 3 and 4 make a case for defending our faith and being willing to be seen as foolish in doing so. In this regard, Guinness states,

Apologetics (from apologia in Greek) is a “word back,” a reasoned defense mounted on behalf of the one we love who is innocent but has been falsely and unfairly accused. Faith desires to let God be God. Sin has framed God, whether by the ultimate insults that he, the creator of all things, does not exist, or that he, the white-hot holy One, is responsible for the evil and suffering that humans have introduced into his good creation. So God’s name must be cleared and his existence and character brought to the fore beyond question (54-55, emphasis original).

Because of this, “so long as sin frames God, those who love God have a job to do in the world” (55). In the course of making our defense, we may appear foolish, but this is the way of the “third fool.” There are fools proper (see Proverbs) and fools for Christ (see 1 Corinthians). Then there are fool-makers, those willing to be seen as foolish in order to “bounce back and play the jester, addressing truth to power, pricking the balloons of the high and mighty, and telling the emperor that he has no clothes” (72).

Chapter 5 presents an erudite explanation of unbelief. In biblical perspective, “the central core of the anatomy of unbelief stems from its willful abuse of truth” (85). It does this through suppression, exploitation, inversion, and ultimately self-deception (86-89). This all leads to a tension that will not quite go away. Because the truth is, well, the truth, a worldview that reacts the way unbelief does will always sit uneasily in a person’s conscience. Guinness explains this the “dilemma pole” and the “diversion pole”:

The dilemma pole expresses the logic of the fact that the more consistent people are to their own view of reality, the less close they are to God’s reality and the more likely they are to feel their dilemma. The diversion pole expresses the fact that the less consistent people are to their own view of reality, the closer they are to God’s reality so the more they must find a diversion. Neither pole is necessarily closer to God, because unbelief as unbelief will not bow to God either way, but the people at either pole are relating to God and to their own claims to truth in entirely different ways (96, emphasis original).

In our culture, people more often gravitate toward the diversion pole as a our technological society proliferates. However, the dilemma pole is more consistent and leads to biblical themes like becoming like what your worship and reaping what you sow (98).

Given this understanding of unbelief, Guinness offers two strategies for persuasion in chapters 6 and 7 respectively. The former discusses “turning the tables,” which is more suited to those near the dilemma pole while the latter discusses “triggering the signals,” which is more suited to the diversion pole. For those more consistent in rejecting God (dilemma), the tables being turned pushes their own argument back against them in a variety of ways. For those less consistent, but just as disinterested (diversion), the signals triggered point to something beyond their current belief system that can only make sense in God’s reality. It is a way of sometimes waking our conservation partner from their agnostic slumbers.

In the final chapters, touches on using questions well in conversation and other ways to spring load our persuasion (chapter 8). He also discusses how to not shy away but embrace the accusation of hypocrisy (chapter 10), while not claiming to always be right (chapter 9). He closes chapter about those in the church who have left and how they become formidable challengers to the Christian faith because of their inside perspective (chapter 11), and a general overview of the apologist’s journey (chapter 12).

While I could probably continue on for another 500-1000 words about how excellent this book is, I think you get the idea. Guinness helps readers go a long way toward recovering the art of persuasion which often fails to be on many would be apologist’s radar. He takes elements from many schools of thought and threads them together in a way that will help readers integrate the best insights those schools have to offer. What might have been helpful is to chart some of this more clearly in the endnotes (which are unfortunately not footnotes). Having read widely in apologetics, I’m aware when he is being presuppositional, but that’s not always clear. The target audience might be why this kind of conceptual architecture wasn’t laid bare. It seems geared toward a general audience (this isn’t IVP Academic), but it is a very sophisticated read, and so may shoot over many lay reader’s heads. Needless to say, this all points to the challenge involved in writing this sort of book. At the end of the day, I think Guinness did a fine job and you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of this book.


Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk: Recovering The Art of Christian PersuasionDowners Grove, IL: IVP Books, July 2015. 270 pp. Hardcover, $22.00.

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One of my earliest reviews was Joe Thorn’s Note to Self. I thought it was an excellent little devotional work.It is not so much something you read and move on from, but continue to come back to read time and time again. In a very similar vein, Joe Thorn’s most recent book, Experiencing The Trinity: The Grace of God For the People of God, offers readers devotional readings to be savored and re-read. The 50 short chapters are divided into three parts, one for each person of the Trinity. Each chapter focuses on either the person or work (or both) of the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. I gave it an initial read-through so I could comment here, but I plan to go back and read them with my wife this summer.

Initially what really caught my attention was Thorn’s introduction, which you can actually watch an interview about here or read the excerpt offered below. The short version is that in 2011, Thorn went through a “dark night of the soul.” In the process of reaching out to David Murray, making some lifestyle changes, leaning more into God and the gospel, he began finding a way out of the darkness. It resonated with me because much of what he described feeling was what my summer was like last year and I’ve only recently started feeling semi-normal again. I don’t think my experience was as intense as Thorn’s, but there seemed to be similarities. Knowing that, I now know that this will be a book that I come back to when the anxiety seems overwhelming, and that seems to be what Thorn has in mind for readers. As he says by way of conclusion,

What follows are fifty daily readings that reflect on God and the gospel and how they overcome our fear, failure, pain, and unbelief. Much of this I preached to myself over the last couple of years, and all of it is directed toward my own heart. So, for instance, when I write “there is a kind of deficiency in your christology,” I’m referring primarily to my own weakness. But if you find yourself with a heart like mine, weak and in need of grace, I pray these readings will be an encouragement to you. For God offers his grace to people like us. (18)

What I hope you will discover—what I continue to learn over and over again—is that all of us are far weaker than we know. Our sin, which is much darker and goes much deeper than we realize, is the real source of our most significant weakness. Neither you nor I can measure up to God’s standards. We are trapped in our condition of guilt, and the only hope is the offer of grace by our triune God. (19)

Joe Thorn, Experiencing The Trinity: The Grace of God For the People of God. Wheaton: Crossway, february 2015. 144 pp. Paperback, $10.99.

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Although I didn’t request it, I recently found myself with a copy of Brant Hansen’s Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better. A simplistic explanation of the book is that it’s like the main song from Frozen. Or, at least it’s a plea to reader to not get so worked up about things that would otherwise make us angry. In that sense, the book is an explanation of the author’s own journey to being less able to be offended.

On the one hand, I appreciate Hansen’s argument since I’m already tired of the current outrage culture and cannot really relate to it. To some extent, I’m already unoffendable, and I worry that might not be a good thing. I’ve wondered if maybe I should be more outraged than I am about certain things. In that sense, I’m kind of predisposed to read Hansen’s book as a justification for what I already feel.

On the other hand, I think there is probably room for a general ability to be offend and outraged when the time calls for it. Hansen’s argument is that we’re not necessarily entitled to our anger (hence the need to “let it go”), and that righteous anger is generally a myth. I’m not sure I completely bought the argument for the latter, but I do think placing things in the righteous anger category doesn’t necessarily mean that being worked up about the issue is psychologically or spiritually healthy for everyone involved.

That being said, I enjoyed reading the book, will probably reflect on it a bit more, and would recommend others read it as well. I’d particularly be interested what some other reviewers think since this book is a little outside of the normal types of books I see reviewed (based mostly on whose reviews I read). I think at the very least, we as evangelical Christians could probably stand to be less offendable than we currently appear to be, but whether or not we should be completely unoffendable is something we could still explore.

Brant Hansen, Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, April 2015. 224 pp. Paperback, $15.99.

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Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy!


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When I was looking through the available books on BookLook Bloggers, I came across Jeff Goins’ most recent effort, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do. To cut to the chase, the path Goins suggests looks like this (196):

  • Awareness: Before you can tell your life what you want to do with it, you must listen to what it wants to do with you
  • Apprenticeship: Every story of success is s story of community. Although mentors are hard to come by, accidental apprenticeships are everywhere. Your life is preparing you for what’s to come.
  • Practice: Real practice hurts. It takes not only time but intentional effort. But some things do come naturally. Be open to learning new skills, and wathc for sparks of inspiration to guide you.
  • Discovery: Don’t take the leap; build a bridge. You never “just know” what you’re supposed to do with your life. Discovery happens in stages.
  • Profession: Failure is your best friend. Don’t push through obstacles; pivot around them. Let every mistake and rejection teach you something. Before a season of success, there often comes a season of failure.
  • Mastery: A calling is not just one thing. It’s a few things, a portfolio that isn’t just your job but the life you live.
  • Legacy: Your calling is not just what you do; it’s the person you become – and the legacy you leave.

While this more or less lays bare the conceptual structure of the book, it doesn’t give you the full picture. Goins is a masterful storyteller and so part of the effect of reading is the way his stories might spark your imagination. Personally though, I was more interested in the conceptual structure and particularly the follow up exercises that Goins suggests doing to pursue this particular path. As I’m still in a place of clarifying and consolidating my calling and work, I found Goins these the most helpful and still need to put some of the suggestions into action.

If you’re in a place where you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, or like me are in a season where graduation looms large and helps you re-think life, this book might be worth checking out. At the very least, it might make an excellent graduation present to either some embarking on college or a career. I learned a lot in my 20’s, but one thing I learned the harder way was that figuring out your work is not an easy task. But as Goins helps explain, it’s not supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away. Rather, Goins will hopefully help readers work their way down the path that will clarify exactly what they were meant to do.

Jeff Goins, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To DoNashville: Thomas Nelson, March 2015. 240 pp. Paperback, $16.99.

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For a while, I wondered whether or not to request a review copy of Michael Wittmer’s Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? I had heard both good and critical things about it, and it seemed to be getting enough publicity without my 2 cents. But then, a copy showed up unexpectedly with a note from Wittmer himself. I’m not sure whether I was specifically selected by the way it was worded or whether my name came from a list of people that ought to get a review copy. So, if you’re reading this Dr. Wittmer, thanks for the copy, personal invitation or not!

To the book itself, I thought it was a bit mis-titled after reading it. The question posed by the subtitle arises from the background of fundamentalist evangelical culture that seems to treat pleasures of the world as antithetical to true Christian living. I went to a Bible Institute the first two years of college that gave that impression and it seems like Wittmer had a similar college experience. Wittmer’s answer in this book is really to offer a balance between a Kuyperian and Two-Kingdoms approach to appreciating culture. In that sense, it’s not really a plea to be “worldly” in either negative connotation (as in Scripture) or in a sense of being overly focused on the good pleasures of creation in the here and now.

As you read the book, Wittmer works through four major parts: Creation, The Meaning of Life, Fall, and Redemption. Curiously, “Consummation” isn’t a separate part but is instead the last chapter under Redemption. In it, the Beatific Vision is more or less absent, and God’s presence as part of the Consummation of all things is a seemingly minor feature. In trying to address the problem of conservative Christians undervaluing creation and recognizing its original goodness, Wittmer has perhaps unintentionally downplayed a major feature and expectation of life on the new earth. At the same time, maybe I need to read Wittmer’s other book, Heaven Is A Place on Earth to get the full picture of his thought on the matter.

For the rest of the book, I thought Wittmer did a helpful job of explaining the original goodness of creation and our life in it (parts 1 and 2). His section on the Fall is likewise helpful in moving readers to see that the problem is not creation or culture, but sin and its effects on both. In addition, I think Wittmer offers an interesting alternative between Kuyperian views of culture and a Two-Kingdoms approach. In that case, the fourth part of the book is where Wittmer I think invites the most critical interaction and engagement and attempts to further the conversation on topics that relate to eschatology and culture. If that’s something that’s right up your alley, you might want to check this volume out!

Michael Wittmer, Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life?Grand Rapids: Zondervan, January 2015. 208 pp. Paperback, $15.99.

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Earlier this fall, Tim Challies went through John Owen’s Mortification of Sin, one of three works collected together in Overcoming Sin & Temptation recently updated and published by Crossway. If you missed out, here’s his list of posts:

You Must Put Sin to Death

Owen says that Christians—the choicest Christians—hate sin and pursue it to its death. Could there be a conclusion that is farther from the world around us? The world, the flesh, and the devil tell us to pursue our sin, to enjoy our sin, to go deeper and deeper into our sin, to identify ourselves by our sin, to become our sin. God’s Word tells us to identify our sin, to hate our sin, to destroy our sin. And by God’s grace we can do that very thing. He can give us a revulsion toward our sin, and then empower us to kill it. Praise God!

Christian, Do You Make It Your Daily Work?

Here is Owen’s thesis for the chapter: “The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify [“kill” or “put to death”] the indwelling power of sin.” In other words, Christians battle sin and put it to death. They battle sin every day until the day they die. They never stop. They never let up.

You Need The Power of The Holy Spirit

Owen’s purpose in this chapter is both simple and clear: He wants his reader to know that sin is put to death only by the power of the Holy Spirit. There may be other ways we suppress sinful behavior, but true mortification always depends upon the Holy Spirit.

6 Evil Effects of Sin

In chapter four of his book, Owen wants the reader to think about this: A God-honoring life is one in which we constantly wage war against sin. He says it like this: “The life, vigor and comfort of our spiritual life depend much upon our mortification of sin.” I take life to be the existence of spiritual life, vigor to be the extent of it, and comfort to be the Holy Spirit’s assurance of its existence. All of these are imperiled by the existence of sin. He will give six consequences of sin in our lives, but first he has a couple of foundational points to make.

5 Ways to Lose The Battle Against Sin

The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. One of the ways such deceit manifests itself is through convincing us that we have battled a sin and put that sin to death when really we have done nothing of the sort. John Owen is a steady guide in the battle against sin, and in chapter 5 of his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation he deals with misconceptions about what it means to put sin to death.

What To Expect When Battling Sin

Owen says that putting sin to death consists of “a habitual weakening of sin,” and I take this to mean that over time and through our habits we chip away at our sin bit-by-bit and day-by-day. Rather than expecting sin to be destroyed in a moment, we expect that it will take time and focused effort. In this way putting sin to death is relative to our maturity as Christians and to the amount of time we have dedicated to battling a particular sin.

Don’t Expect Unbelievers to Act Like Believers

So often I see Christians acting surprised that their non-Christian friends or family members are acting like non-Christians. John Owen addresses this in his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation. The book deals with the subject of mortification, of putting sin to death, and Owen dedicates one chapter to explaining why only Christians can behave like Christians.

A Deeper and Wider Obedience

It is an experience every Christian knows. You become aware of a sin and come to fear and hate it. You focus all kinds of attention on that sin and on putting it to death. You ask friends to pray for you, and you cry out to God for deliverance. Well and good, right? Well, not necessarily. John Owen has something to say to you: You will not be delivered from this sin until you pursue a much deeper and wider obedience.

7 Marks of a Deeply Deadly Sin

In chapter 9 of his work Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen wants you to think about that besetting sin in your life to consider if it is an “ordinary” sin, or if it is one that is particularly deadly and that, therefore, requires something more than the usual pattern of putting sin to death. The deadliness of a sin is not related so much to the category of that sin, but to how deeply-rooted it is in your life, and to how you have responded to God as he has revealed it to you.

3 Things to Consider Before That Next Big Sin

Sin promises so much but delivers so little. Sin always amplifies its benefits and minimizes its cost. Sin always aims at the uttermost, always nudging toward utter death and destruction. And yet we love our sin, and secretly harbor it, and grieve to turn aside from it.

John Owen has a challenge for you. Before that next big sin you are pondering, he wants you to simply consider three things.

9 Steps to Putting Sin to Death

All throughout the New Testament we are told to put our sin to death. For example, in Colossians 3 Paul says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” How do you do that? How do you stop a sin, and how do you stop an especially stubborn and deep-rooted sin? Is there any hope? I want to track with John Owen here (via his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation) and give a list of 9 things you need to do to overcome sin. Consider that sin that is prevalent in your life and then consider each of these 9 steps.

A Debate I Would Watch

I would pay good money to watch a debate between John Owen and Joel Osteen. Wouldn’t you? I have read John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation many times now, and have benefited with every reading. It just never gets old and it just never stops sounding so counter-cultural, countering both the wider culture and even the going Christian culture.

This week I read a chapter that teaches the value of self-examination and self-abasement. I was immediately struck by the difference between the heart of Owen’s understanding of the Christian life and what passes for Christian living today. I don’t mean to pick on an easy target, but it makes a fascinating contrast to compare Owen’s books with, say, Joel Osteen’s. I am not exaggerating when I say that they really are polar opposites in just about every way. Though both pass as Christian books, they could hardly be more different.

True Peace With God Comes on God’s Terms

We all long for peace. We all want to be at peace with God and men. The problem is that we usually want that peace to be on our terms. So we strive against men and battle against God until we feel that we have achieved what feels to us like peace.

John Owen knows this temptation and in his great book Overcoming Sin and Temptation he includes an entire chapter on the theme. He gives his reader this charge: “Do not speak peace to yourself before God speaks it, but hearken to what God says to your soul.”

The Theory, The Practice

Putting sin to death is at once so simple and so excruciatingly difficult. The theory of it is simple enough, but the practice takes a lifetime. It is fascinating to me that in John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation he dedicates thirteen chapters to the preparatory work of putting sin to death, but just one chapter to the actual practice of it. That fact alone is worth pondering.

As he comes to that one chapter, Owen has only two broad instructions: Put your faith in Christ, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

A resource that will prove helpful if you’d like to apply some of the wisdom from Owen’s work to your life is this Battle Plan chart.

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For this past year, I’ve been teaching a psychology elective at the Christian school that employs me. Knowing roughly this time last year I’d be teaching it, I began looking for potential textbooks. Because it is a class that meets just once a week and is for a half credit, a standard college psychology textbook isn’t really the best option. I had compromised on that the first time I taught the class, and with mixed results. This time around, I wanted to try something a little different.

I noticed sometime late last spring that Baker Academic had a book titled Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith: An Introductory Guide slated to release late summer. It is written by Paul Moes and Donald Tellinghuisen, both professors at Calvin College. Together they’ve written an insightful look at psychological study in Christian perspective. While there were some other options I had looked at, just judging from the table of contents, I thought it might be a useful text for the first semester of the class. Baker Academic graciously sent me a review copy that arrived in time for me to read ahead and prep a bit. I’ve now worked my way through it on my own, and we’ve done about 12 chapters together in class.

So far, I would say it has gone very well. The book really is a look at the study of psychology from a Christian standpoint. By that I mean it’s not a psychology textbook, but is an exercise in thinking theologically about many of the subject areas that are covered in a standard psychology textbook. That means there are chapters on research methodology (chapter 2), the mind body connection (3-4), consciousness and sensation (5-6), learning (7), memory (8), decision making (9), growth and development (10), social psychology (11-12), personality (13), disorders (14), and therapy (15). Some of the chapters could have been subdivided (the sensation chapter could easily be multiple chapters), but given what I imagine were tight space constraints, I was satisfied with the layout.

As readers are guided through each of these dimensions of psychological study, the authors utilize five themes from Scripture concerning humans to think theologically. Those themes are (ix, also explained in detail in chapter 1):

  • Relational persons (we are made in the image of God, meant for relationship with him and meant to steward his creation)
  • Broken, in need of redemption (we are sinners in need of salvation through Christ, living in and part of creation that suffers the consequences of all humanity’s sin)
  • Embodied (we bear God’s image in real bodies in a real world)
  • Responsible limited agents (we make choices, within constraints, that result in actions for which we are both individually and corporately responsible)
  • Meaning seekers (we seek to make sense of our surroundings, our experience, and our purpose through perceiving patterns, creative meaning making, and desire for a deity)

Helpfully I think, the authors parenthetically note when they are drawing on these themes later in the book. Rather than simply telling you these themes are the backbone of their analysis and letting you pick up on it, they draw your attention to their use throughout. Also helpfully, the authors draw on up-to-date psychological study that has made popular impact. For instance, they draw on Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow in the chapter on decision making, John Gottman’s work in the chapter on research methodology, and Steven Pinker makes several appearances. And just easily they reference classic studies like those of Pavlov, Stanley Milgram, and the strange story of Phineas Gage.

On the whole, I’d say this book works well in the venue I’m using it. The discussion questions help us personalize and develop the material from the standpoint of our Christian faith. Outside of the classroom, this could be a good book for someone interested in psychology, especially if they are considering majoring in it in college. Post-college, this could be a helpful look at psychology for those in minister who lack a background in psychological study. It’s certainly not as extensive as actually majoring in psychology or capable of replacing extensive reading, but it does provide a good general orientation for further study. In the end, I think it is ideally suited for the classroom as either a primary text in smaller class like I’m teaching, or as a supplemental text for a full psychology class at the college level.

Paul Moes & Donald J. Tellinghuisen, Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith: An Introductory GuideGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, August 2014. 304 pp. Paperback, $21.99.

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Thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy!

Thanks to Matt Perman posting this, you can now watch a 10 minutes animated run-down on Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It’s a book that is helpful if your job involves working with people, and I regularly return to it for insight. If you don’t have time to read it, you’re probably too busy (it’s a quick read or even scan). But, if you’ve got 10 minutes, this is well worth your time.

9780062218339_p0_v5_s260x420Every now and then, ideas I have for blog posts indirectly relate to larger online conversations. Even before this week, I was planning on talking about this chapter from Think Like A Freak. Given the discussions I’ve seen on Twitter (as a result of blog posts and movements in evangelicalism), I hope you find this useful.

As a bit of background, Think Like A Freak is a kind of practical how-to counterpart to Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, books I’d recommend you add to your summer reading, if you haven’t read them (and even if it’s been a while). In those books, authors Steven Levitt (a University of Chicago economist) and Stephen Dubner (an award winning writer) explain the results of their research to dig beneath the surface of cultural trends and phenomena. In this book, they explain some basic principles for how to think and approach problems they way they did in their books.

The second to last chapter is titled “How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded,” and it is a brief goldmine of practical advice if you spend time on the internet (particularly Twitter). Especially in light of recent online discussions, here’s some important tips to keep in mind if you’re truly trying to persuade people.

Understand how hard persuasion will be – and why

Especially if you are having a discussion with people who are intellectual, keep this in mind. Persuasion (which is different than proving a point) requires you to move someone from thinking one way about a subject to thinking differently. If you’re talking to smart people (or people who think they are smart), this is even more difficult. As Levitt and Dubner point out:

Smart people simply have more experience with feeling they are right, and therefore have greater confidence in their knowledge, whatever side of an issue they’re on. But being confident you are right is not the same as being right (171).

Further, smarter people have probably thought about the issue more (if they’re arguing about it), and “when someone is heavily invested in his or her opinion, it is inevitably hard to change the person’s mind” (171-172).

So how do you deal with this? Don’t assume that a person’s position is based on pure fact and logic. If it were, all you would need to do is deconstruct their position logically and they should be persuaded. If that doesn’t happen, then it means there are deeper ideological and possibly emotional factors playing into their position. A negative way of framing it (which will get you nowhere) is to call it some variants of this “herd thinking.” That certainly plays a part, but pointing it out will undermine your efforts.

It’s not me; it’s you

Keep in mind that persuasion is difficult because it does not rest on logic alone. This points to the fact that a lot depends on how you present the argument. As Levitt and Dubner explain,

Whenever you set out to persuade someone, remember that you are merely the producer of the argument. The consumer has the only vote that counts. Your argument may be factually indisputable and logically airtight but if it doesn’t resonate for the recipient, you won’t get anywhere. (173)

In other words, you have to keep your audience in view. If your goal is persuasion, then your argument will look much different than if your goal is merely to prove the other person’s position wrong. In the evangelical world, we see an awful lot of the latter and much less of the former. The latter is preaching to the choir while the former is actually capable of producing dialogue.

Don’t pretend your argument is perfect

As Levitt and Dubner say, “Show us a ‘perfect’ solution and we’ll show you our pet unicorn” (173). The same goes for theological argumentation. “If you want your argument to be taken seriously, you’d do well to admit the potential downsides,” Levitt and Dubner point out (175). Likewise, you’d do well to acknowledge tensions and potential problems in your espoused theological positions. That’s not the same as admitting they are wrong. Rather, it’s acknowledging your creatureliness when it comes to what you know and how you know it. We worship a perfect savior, but have no perfect arguments.

Acknowledge the strengths of your opponent’s argument

This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, why lend credence to the other position?

One reason is that the opposing argument almost certainly has value – something you can learn from and use to strengthen your own argument. This may seem hard to believe since you are so invested in your argument, but remember: we are blind to our blindness

Furthermore, an opponent who feels his argument is ignored isn’t likely to engage with you at all. He may shout at you and you may shout back at him, but it is hard to persuade someone with whom you can’t even hold a conversation (177, bold added).

It isn’t likely that the person you are trying to convince is articulating a value-less position. There is probably some aspect of the truth in what they are saying, otherwise it wouldn’t gain any traction. If their argument was 100% worthless, no one would listen or care. If people are listening and caring, try to find out what is resonating and what has value that you can affirm before moving to your critique.

Keep the insults to yourself

You may name-call if you’d like, but it will not get you anywhere if you’re trying to be persuasive. Case in point, if you label someone a heretic (rightly or wrongly so), you’ve just made it very unlikely they will listen to your argument and will probably double-down on their position. Once you start using unflattering labels, you’ve decided implicitly that you’re not interested in persuasion. Here’s how Levitt and Dubner put it:

If you are hoping to damage opponents’ mental health, go ahead and tell them how inferior or dim-witter or nasty they are. But even if you are certifiably right on every point, you should not think for a minute that you will eve be able to persuade them. Name-calling will make you an enemy, not an ally, and if that is your objective, then persuasion is probably not what you were after in the first place (181).

Why you should tell stories

Lastly, we need more storytelling in our persuasive efforts. In reality, it is the most powerful form of persuasion, and Levitt and Dubner use the story of Nathan and King David to illustrate its power. A story, keep in mind, is not the same as an anecdote, which something that happened to you this one time. Stories, as Levitt and Dubner say, fill out the picture and use “data, statistical or otherwise, to portray a sense of magnitude” (182). Stories are powerful tools in teaching and capture attention better than a syllogism (however accurate and precise the latter may be).

In the end, whether we follow these steps will show whether we are interested in persuasion or proving our point. They are not mutually exclusive. You can have the latter without the former. But, you cannot have the former without the latter. If we believe our positions on important matters, theological or otherwise, are true, then we should hope to persuade as many people are we can. But that requires much more than presenting a sound argument. It may require more work, but in the end, it should be something we all aspire to in our conversations about things that count.

9780802868633

James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, and Sexuality: Reframing The Church’s Debate on Same Sex RelationshipsGrand Rapids: Eerdmans, February, 2013. 312 pp. Paperback, $29.00.

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Thanks to Eerdmans for the review copy!

James Brownson is the James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan. He is also an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. In Bible, Gender, and Sexuality he is attempting to look at the issue of same sex from a fresh angle.

The reason Brownson wants to look at the issue from a fresh angle is twofold. First, there are “gay and lesbian Christians who exhibit many gifts and fruits of the Spirit and who seek to live in deep obedience to Christ (11).” While Brownson was able to engage this issue from a “moderate, traditionalist position,” he was unable to continue doing so when his son announced he was gay.The second motivating factor made Brownson realize his former work “had stayed at a level of abstraction that wasn’t helpful when it came to the concrete and specific questions” he now faced with his son. His own son didn’t seem to fit the typical narrative used by traditionalists to explain homosexual orientation (and divide orientation from behavior). Likewise, his son seemed to him like a normal and healthy high school senior, in need of the grace of God, but not particularly or deeply troubled (12).

As a result, Brownson wanted to discern “what the most central and truest message of Scripture” was for his son, and “not to justify a certain conclusion” but discern as best the truth as best he could. In other words, because of personal issues, Brownson felt the strong need to go back and ask “Does Scripture really say homosexuality is wrong?”

Predictably, Brownson comes to the conclusion that Scripture doesn’t really say that. Once Brownson shared his personal motivations in his book project, I knew immediately this was the conclusion he would come to. That I read the rest of the book, I didn’t need to in order to see that Brownson would conclude from his study that same-sex relationships would be ok if they follow the same guidelines as opposite-sex relationships (sexual activity only within marriage). Having spent time depressed “grieving the loss of the heterosexual future” his son would miss (12), it was only natural that Brownson would now envision a “healthy” homosexual one instead.

To get there, Brownson concludes that same-sex relationships are not condemned by Scripture primarily by digging into what he calls “the moral logic” of what Scripture means by what it says. To be honest, it felt very much like the idea was to see if we could get behind what the text plainly says in order to see if actually applies to our modern situation. Lo and behold, it we dig deep enough we find that behaviors that are condemned in no uncertain terms can actually be morally acceptable in a different cultural context (if you also think that context isn’t anticipated by the biblical authors).

To make this case stick, Brownson has to argue several things. To begin, he denies that Scripture teaches gender complementarity (chapter 2). He focuses almost exclusively on Genesis 1-2 to prove this. Interestingly, he does not interact with any major commentary on Genesis in his interpretive efforts, nor does he really present a case from biblical theology. He simply examines the text for himself and finds it wanting.

Having done this, he then proceeds to try to distance himself from revisionist interpreters (chapter 3).Though it might appear like he is distinguishing himself from both traditionalists (complementarians) and revisionists by critiquing both camps, as mentioned above, he is ultimately part of the latter. He just thinks he is not as extreme. But, since he comes to more or less the same conclusions, that is really a hard sell to the reader.

After this preliminary ground clearing in the first part of the book, Brownson turns to four crucial topics in the second:

  • Patriarchy (chapter 4)
  • The one-flesh union of marriage (chapter 5)
  • Procreation (chapter 6)
  • Celibacy (chapter 7)

To summarize briefly, Brownson argues that the rules of a patriarchal culture are not normative (this builds on the denial of gender complementarity). Then, he says that the one-flesh union of marriage is primarily a kinship bond (and so not necessarily sexual). Given this, procreation may be part of marriage but not the ultimate goal, and so is not necessary. Lastly, it is wrong to argue that all people who want to gay or lesbian and Christian must be celibate because it is a gift not given to all.

This is all done without really engaging Romans 1:24-27 because Brownson devotes the entire third part of the book to this passage. He is concerned to understand what Paul means by lust and desire (chapter 8), purity and impurity (chapter 9), the dishonorable use of the body (chapter 10), and finally the “unnaturalness” of homosexuality (chapter 11). Briefly summarized, Brownson concludes that Paul condemns homosexual behavior that is driven by unrestrained lust. Then he suggests that for Paul and the rest of the NT authors, purity moves away from actions toward attitudes and dispositions. Next, if gender roles evolve, certain sexual behaviors that violate those gender roles may be acceptable. Lastly, in light of all this, there is no objective basis on which to classify homosexual behavior as “unnatural” and hence in the proper moral framework (marriage or civil union), the church should be open to accepting it.

In all this, no major Romans commentaries are consulted in reference to Romans 1. It is frequently asserted that neither Paul nor the other biblical writers were aware of something like sexual orientation. Frequently, sociological and psychological research in the abstract is referenced if it helps make the point and overlooked if it doesn’t. Speculative background contexts are used to try to reframe what Paul is saying.

But all of that pales in light of what Brownson says way back in chapter 5:

The fact that the Bible uses the language of “one flesh” to refer to male-female unions normally does not inherently, and of itself, indicate that it views such linkages normatively. (105)

This allows him to later make the following expanded conclusion:

It is clear that Scripture assumes that this one-flesh bond only takes place between a man and a woman. Yet there is nothing inherent in the biblical usage that would necessarily exclude committed gay or lesbian unions from consideration as one-flesh unions, when the essential characteristics of one-flesh unions as kinship bonds are held clearly in view. (109)

In other words, “what is normal in the biblical witness may not necessarily be normative in different cultural settings that are not envisioned by the biblical writers.” This is essentially a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture. Scripture may depict certain cultural relationships as normal, but it is not our norm for understanding cultural relationships. That “norm” is whatever the deeper moral logic of Scripture is, which from Brownson’s point of view, seems to be an almost entirely cultural human product. Brownson is only interested in the moral logic of the biblical writer, as understood only as the text’s human author.

There is no concern for God’s moral logic and what might bring him glory through our sexual relationships. There is only the deeply personal experience of gay and lesbian persons that forces us to reinterpret what Scripture means by what it says. There is no recognition that we are all sexually broken in way or another and that homosexual patterns of desire represent one type of brokenness that needs the grace of God just as much as every other kind of brokenness.

In the end, there is book is a father’s attempt to affirm his son by re-reading Scripture and re-imagining a future for his son that can include a valid, church approved same-sex union. To do this, he must fight against the tide of traditional biblical interpretation and consult outlying sources to support the conclusion he was inevitably moving toward when he went back to “see what Scripture really means by what it says.” On the one hand, this book shows how tightly inter-related the case for traditional gender role is with the case for traditional marriage, and for that we should be grateful. But on the other hand, it shows what happens when experience becomes normative over and above Scripture, and for that we should take warning. Many people will find Brownson’s case compelling. Those same people may claim sola Scriptura, but approving the argument of this book requires affirming sola experientia instead.

9780802406521_p0_v1_s260x420Matthew Lee Anderson is the lead writer over at Mere Orthodoxy and the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith. You may have seen articles from him elsewhere, including but not limited to CNN, the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, Relevant, and The City. 1 Right now, Anderson’s working on an M.Phil in Christian Ethics at Oxford and offering us his own exploration into the nature of questioning and confidence appropriately titled The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith.

First off, this is an interesting book, and I mean that not in the sense the content itself is interesting, 2 but that the nature of the book is interesting. Usually books are about some particular topic and explore it from different angles. This book is about exploring and specifically about the interface of questioning, confidence, and doubt. It’s almost like reading a book about reading books, 3 but is more about the disposition that lies behind reading itself. Usually, if you read a lot of non-fiction books, you are doing some sort of exploring, 4 and Anderson wants to explore the nature of that exploration. 5

That said, this is a book offering a kind of philosophical meditation on the nature of questions. Questions are what drive exploration, so that is what Anderson focuses on. After “A Beginning,” Anderson’s first chapter offers thoughts on the “anatomy of questions.” Questions are “one of our most common ways of interacting with the world,” yet as Anderson wisely notes, the “mechanics remain ambiguous” (18). To that end, he would like to open up the hood and examine how it all runs.

In chapter 2, Anderson explains that questions (like facts) are not neutral but are inherently value laden. As an illustration, and probably one of my favorite headings in the book, Anderson points out that “the first question was not God’s and it was not good” (32). So, while questioning is unavoidable, questions can be misused. 6 But, they don’t only have to misused since they can be used in redemptive fashion.

This is an apt framework to have in place before discussing doubt, a subject Anderson turns to in chapter 3. Here, he offers numerous quotables; things like “In its popular form, postmodern doubt is merely modern skepticism with hipster glasses,” (47) and “faith is not fundamentalism and doubting is not questioning” (50). In perhaps one of the most helpful clarifications, Anderson notes that “doubt seems to be more of a state or condition, while questioning is a pursuit.” Given this distinction, “our questioning may be rooted in our doubts, but it does not have to be. Conflating doubt and questioning is one of the chief confusions of our age” (51). And further (if you’re looking for a money quote, here it is):

Faith is the presupposition to questions and inquiry, the ground that we stand on as we look out and survey the world. It is not the end of our exploring but the beginning for it engenders a love that longs to see the one whose life gives us life. (52)

In the end then, “the questioning faith is a confident questioning, a questioning that knows the answer we seek is already known by God and will be revealed to us when we are ready” (64). This is immensely helpful, both as ground clearing and stage setting 7 for the rest of the book to be able to explore the nature of questions and questioning without being incorrectly labelled as a book on “doubt.”

Chapter 4 explore the nature of satisfaction. 8 Brilliantly, Anderson points out that “searching for information on the Internet is easy; pursuing understanding is hard” (72). In other words, part of questioning well is looking for something specific to reach a point of satisfaction. Otherwise, you’re just curious, which is not necessarily a good thing (being curious simply for novelty is somewhat of a vice, a topic discussed in chapter 6).

Chapter 5 explains how questions interface with our world and introduces the idea that there is a progression to our questioning. That is, sometimes you don’t even have the framework in place to understand the answer to certain questions (the lesson Job learned at the end of the book). But, as you grow through your pursuit, your questioning matures as well.

In chapter 6, Anderson shows how questioning can be liberated. As he explains,

Questioning needs to be liberated. We can’t simply take up inquiry as part of our formation without seeing the ways in which it too has become entangled in a fallen heart and the structures of a fallen world. If we fail to orient the practice appropriately – around the gracious actions of God and His authorized witness to them – then we will simultaneously fail to cultivate the virtues and communities that we need in order to question well (107).

Specifically, Anderson sees that questioning well can set us free from defensiveness (108-113), self-sufficiency (113-115), curiosity (115-117), and the need to have everything now (118-124).

In chapter 7, Anderson explains and promotes the value of questioning within community. As he says, “we explore best when we learn to question with others” (127). These others are best real live people you know and live with, but questioning with the past is also helpful as well. Writers in the past had different questions than we have and offered different answers to questions we still have. This historical focus helps develop questioners well. Perhaps the best route would be to read a old book with a group friends since that unites the best of both worlds. 9

Chapter 8 takes an issue that arises in conjunction with questioning in community, that is, how to handle disagreements among friends. To help with this, Anderson highlights the role fundamental commitments play and how many times we can share fundamental values and commitments (like questioning well, arguing a case reasonably, and show respect to others) with people who ultimately disagree with on important matters. Anderson offers several personal anecdotes to support this, and I think he frames the issue well.

Chapter 9 is perhaps the only overtly practical chapter. Here, Anderson offers us advice on how to ask a good question, though he is really just building on much of what he had already been saying about the nature of questions. Still, it is a useful chapter and Anderson rightly suggests that the more saturated we our with Scripture, the better our questioning will be (172).

The final chapter shares a title with the book and like all good final chapters, helps drive points home and tie everything up. 10 In a very poetic fashion (helped by quoting T. S. Eliot), Anderson explains where the end of our exploring is leading and how our faith guides us along the journey. This is followed up by two short appendices: “How to Not Lose Your Faith in a Christian College” and “Loving Those Who Leave.” Much could be said about both, but I’m out of time and space. 11

On the whole, I thought this was an excellent read. Very timely and very important for just about everyone to digest. It helped me in thinking through the role questions play in my teaching (probably from Anderson’s several examples of his own use in that context) and how it might help me this fall. I would like to train my high schoolers to ask better questions of the Bible and learn how to discover the answers themselves rather than just giving them a list of answers and/or Bible facts. I was already leaning that direction, but Anderson’s book helped me clarify a few things.

If you’re the inquisitive sort, or know someone who is, this is probably a great book to read together and profit from. It will help you understand the role your questions play in intellectual formation and help you in your own journey, wherever you may be at the moment.

Book Details

Notes:

  1. He has also guest posted and answered questions on the blog of she who must not be named
  2. Which it is
  3. For instance, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
  4. That is unless you genuinely enjoy reading non-fiction over fiction/TV/the internet
  5. Kind of like Inception, especially when you consider that my review is exploring Anderson’s exploration of exploring (which is exploring what other people have said about the subject)
  6. This reminds me of the role inflection plays in the words used for questioning. (e.g. “Did God really say? vs. “Did God really say? vs. Did God really say? vs. Did God really say? – same question, different intent in asking)
  7. Which are both important activities, but are not strictly speaking, synonymous
  8. Unless I missed it, there were no references to The Rolling Stones
  9. An idea wholeheartedly supported by Tony Reinke in Lit!
  10. I realize I’m getting vague here, but this review is getting long and you’ve hopefully gotten the point by now
  11. Which depending on how you take it, could be a rather jarring admission

9780801039362

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the multi-view books. I think this is my fifth one to review, but it’s my first one to offer a giveaway for. Keep reading for detail on that.

Overview

Understanding Spiritual Warfare opens with a substantial introductory essay. Editors James Beilby and Paul Eddy have done their share of multi-view books, and they provide a strong foundation for the ensuing dialogues. They detail 3 broad issues that inform the spiritual warfare conversation: (1) moral objection to the spiritual warfare language, (2) the actual existence and nature of spirit beings, and (3) Christian perspectives on the theology and practice of spiritual warfare itself (2). Their opening essay contributes a vital part of the discussion in its own right, which is a marked contrast to the last multi-view book I reviewed.

With the stage set, the first contributor is Walter Wink, though his writing is edited together by Gareth Higgins. Wink is the only contributor who denies the existence of Satan and demons and this significantly weakens his overall model, the “World Systems” approach. Instead, he sees what we attribute to be Satan and demons is the emergent “soul” of corrupt world systems. For the most part, conservative evangelicals will find Wink’s liberal theology unpalatable and as David Powlison notes in his response, it really is a different kind of religion (77, in Wink’s case at least). Having misdiagnosed the issue, Wink’s approach is not attractive, but it gives the book an overall balance.

David Powlison is the next contributor, and his approach is dubbed “The Classical Model.” Every setting some biblical foundations, Powlison answers 5 key questions (98):

  • What is the look and feel of spiritual warfare?
  • How do we understand and help those involved in the occult?
  • How do we understand and help those living in addictive bondage to sin?
  • How do we understand the exorcisms in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts?
  • What about the experiences that are common in “spiritual warfare ministries” and in animistic cultures?

I like this layout and I think it really hits on the key questions we need to ask and answer on this topic. Honestly, I think the whole book would be stronger if each contributor had had to answer these questions.

Next comes Gregory Boyd with “The Ground-Level Deliverance Model.” I think this is the next strongest approach, even though I would disagree with most of Boyd’s theological positions. He at least takes the text of Scripture seriously and offers a model that grapples with the realities at work (unlike Wink’s approach). Boyd also offers some proposals for actually engaging in spiritual warfare, which are (1) wake up (to the reality of warfare), (2) live a revolting lifestyle against the kingdom of Satan, and (3) stand against demonic oppression and infirmities. (151-154) Powlison and Boyd really seem to be only separated by a theological divide, as Boyd affirms most of Powlison’s position (117-118) and only questions Powlison’s approach to divine providence (118-119) and feels Powlison may have overly domesticated the battle (119-122).

Lastly, C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood offer “The Strategic-Level Deliverance Model.” Greenwood does most of the writing, but Wagner is the forefather/innovator of the position. As they understand it, spiritual warfare has a “ground-level” dimension (delivering an individual from demonic influence), a “occult-level” (more organized demonic presence through witchcraft, Satanism, etc.), and finally a “strategic-level” (power confrontations with high-ranking principalities and powers). To the latter, Boyd objects in his essay not to its practice in general, but that the Scriptural precedent seems that angels take care of this without our help (cf. Daniel). However, the majority of the essay is Greenwood offering anecdotal evidence for practicing this very thing. Though this essay is the most overtly focused on explaining how to do spiritual warfare, it has the least developed foundation, something each responder points out.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a very helpful book. The introduction sets out the issues nicely, and the contributors come from a variety of positions. Rather than each being a different shade of evangelical options, only the central two positions are. Though the final position is not entirely incompatible, it represents a well-developed approach that lacks appropriate biblical foundations, which is problematic to say the least. Maybe not as problematic as Wink’s denial of Satan and demons, but his approach is a kind of non-approach anyway.

Readers who want to dig into this subject ought to pick up this book, and here’s how you can win a copy. If you’re in RSS, you’ll probably need to click through to see the PunchTab form. As always, just follow the prompts to earn your entries! I do want to add this disclaimer though: I plan on starting a blog newsletter in the coming weeks or sometime before Google Reader’s demise. By entering your email, you are also adding yourself to the mailing list. You can enter the giveaway without using your email, but if you go that route, that is what you’re doing (and this will be true in giveaways from now on!)

Book Details

  • Editors: James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy 
  • Title: Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views
  • PublisherBaker Academic (December 1, 2012)
  • Paperback: 240pgs
  • Reading Level: General Reader/Bible School
  • Audience Appeal: Christians and especially pastors interested in the subject of spiritual warfare
  • Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of Baker Academic)

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