I guess this blog post has to happen only because I said it would. Because I have reviewed books in the past I occasionally get offers to review books on my blog. Often I don’t bite but this time I did… twice as it happens and they turned out to be eminently forgettable books. Basically I do not recommend either of the books but I have to review them so here goes:
I have watched a few of Andy Stanley’s teaching series before and enjoyed them but I have never read any of his books. So I thought this might be a good time to check one out. I was also doing quite a bit of reflection about my life and direction at that time so this seemed like it could be a good book to read. The most redeeming feature, however, was that it was an easy read so I did not have to waste more than a weekend reading it!
It falls into that stereo-typical American popular (Christian?) authorial style – of inane stories, massive repetition and superficial content. As I said I have been encouraged by some of Stanley’s teaching and was quite frankly disappointed. While the book certainly talks about God and his role in our lives and encourages us to know him and submit to his plan, there is very little gospel in the book. The agent for change is very often right thinking, self-awareness, self-improvement or at times minor scale legalism. At some points I found myself wondering if I substituted the obvious references to God in certain sections whether a non-Christian author could have written something very similar. Not that I think Stanley is anything other than, from what I have seen, a man deeply committed to Christ and has a strong grasp of the sovereignty of God, the all-encompassing nature of Christian discipleship and a deep love for Jesus. I am, however, disappointed in this book and probably won’t ever read any of his other books.
I would rather recommend: Tim Chester’s: You Can Change or Jonathan Dodson’s “Fight Club: Gospel Centred Discipleship”
In one sense there is nothing wrong with this book in its theology and message. There is just nothing unique or memorable about it. It’s main theme is neither new nor original. The content has been done before – just better! The writing style is bad – sentences are often clumsy and badly written. And despite his constant attempts at humour, he is just not funny – certainly not to anyone over 18 would be my guess. Just because you have a good idea does not mean that you ought to write a book. Like the above book the author may have been better served writing a pamphlet – such is the lack of substance to fill an entire book, padded out by needless repetition.
I suspect the main reason this unremarkable book got published was as the blurb on the back says, Idleman is the “teaching pastor at… the fifth largest church in America.”
Again I would rather recommend Tim Chester’s “The Ordinary Hero”
Note: These reviews are way overdue but I hate writing content like this so true to my nature I have procrastinated until I forced myself to be done with this and write them.