Rating – Put it on you list
Level – Easy, moderate in length
First of all, do not be thrown off by the cover/title. This is not a fluffy self-helpy type book. Instead Dr. Crabb challenges the readers to love like Jesus, but not the usual Sunday School love you hear about in church. He lays out true sacrificial love and all that it entails; and maybe the best part, he asks, doing you even want to try?
The book is broken in to two main parts, with a third part, that’s really mostly a conclusion/summary. The first part is the idea of happiness. Crabb says there are two kind, first thing happiness and second thing. Firs thing, better known as joy, though he uses them interchangeably, is happiness IN Christ. Second thing happiness is the happiness of pretty much everything else – family, money, health, etc.
The second part consists of an introduction what he calls Spiritual Theology, followed by the seven questions to ask and answer of this theology. The questions are:
- Who is God?
- What is God up to?
- Who are we?
- What’s gone wrong?
- What has God done about our problem?
- How is the Spirit working to implement the Divine Solution to our human problem?
- How can we cooperate with the Spirit’s work?
He wraps up with some concluding thoughts and presents the question(s) he was hoping this book would ask. Finally, he spends a little time trying to answer that question.
This book was surprising challenging. I say challenging, I guess I’m basing that on the cover. I had never read anything from Dr. Crabb before. Then all of sudden this summer, he was everywhere to me. First as I have been looking into Christian & Biblical Counseling, his name comes up often. Then I met with the community group pastor of my church who bases some of his small group leader training on ‘Inside Out’, Crabb’s most famous book. About that time, Baker Book’s email to people whom want to receive review copies had this book. So, despite the cover, I gave it a try.
I’m really impressed with his writing. In fact, I ordered ‘Inside Out’ before I even finished reading this book. This book, for one thing, is incredibly honest about prayer. He basically says he doesn’t get it. He’s not sure it helps, or how it works. I find that kind of candor to be refreshing from a Christian author/publisher.
Most importantly, though, this is the most challenging book I’ve ever read when it comes to love. What he lays out, and it’s not just his idea, he is proof texting this command the whole way, is just too much to handle. He admit’s as much, but goes even further, not only can’t we love like Jesus, but we often don’t want to.
It should hit every reader in the heart when he writes of those of us in the Evangelical church and the way we thing about love and service. We pray for blessing and then love our spouses and our children. We lead Bible Studies, do service projects, and go on mission trips. Isn’t that good? Why do more? I honestly feel the same way. But that isn’t the love we are called to. That isn’t the happiness we are called to. When we do this we are bent inward, often only looking for ourselves. He’s not saying that these things are bad, but that must also look at our motives.
Additionally, every believer needs to read at least the part about how American individualism and our current therapeutic culture give us only second thing happiness and actually move us away from the happiness of being fulfilling in Christ.
I really struggled to rate this book, but I think everyone should put it on their list. Anyone looking to study love, ‘doing community’, loving your neighbor, or even sacrifice should pick this up. The writing isn’t quite tight enough for this to be a good book for a study group. It meanders sometimes and he admits he didn’t have a full outline before he started and I think at times it shows. But overall, this book will challenge you. Even to the point that you may just say no.
Final Note, I guess more for the publisher, this cover is, honestly, just awful. I almost past up on a free copy of this due to the design. I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with it, but it looks like it’d be some more from a prosperity gospel guy. It looks very ‘spiritual’, very ‘therapeutic deism’. It just doesn’t match the tone of this book. I think the depth of the theology and the intensity of his challenge is far to great for the style of the cover, and really the title, too, but I don’t want to keep harping on this.
I’m excited to have finally had a chance to review a book for Baker Books. This is my first review working directly with them. I know I’m late in getting the review up, but hopefully they will send me more in the future. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review (see my about page for more info).