Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PRIMAL -book review

Confession: I read this book out of an obligation to the publisher. I got a free advanced copy and they get a book review (you're reading it). It quickly morphed from an assignment into something nourishing that my soul didn't know it needed.

The premise is simple: it is an elaboration of Mark 12:30
"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength."

Naturally it's laid out in four parts: The Heart of Christianity, The Soul of Christianity, The Mind of Christianity, and the Strength of Christianity.

I must say that I've read and heard this verse many times; Mark Batterson's book helped it hit me with all the newness that anyone who's been a follower of any length of time hopes for.

One thing that strikes the reader about Batterson is that he is an intelligent guy, e.g. "counterfactual theory," "hippocampus," and "metacognitive ability." (pgs 26, 90, 115)

That is NOT to say that this is in any way "heady" or for "thinker types." The beauty of Batterson's writing is that it's based in Scripture and the brightest minds of this world, yet set upon a table that everyone can eat from; that's a gift.

Case and point, his appropriate intellect is countered by simple down home advice that's impossible to disagree with:

"I know we're busy, but no one is too busy to go to the bathroom, right? So here's an idea. If you simply put a book in your bathroom, you can read at least one book a month." pg 95

Ironically I began reading PRIMAL at the same time I was prepping a talk (click here to hear it) at Oakbrook Church on the topic of biblical generosity. His first section on the heart became the perfect thing for my own soul to wrestle with, and then in turn for our congregation to wrestle with. I credit this book with the bedrock of that impacting talk.

As he cleverly unwrapped each section (the different ways we are to love God), I noticed how much you and I camp out in one area in the name of "how God wired me" instead of fully living this life the way God intended.

I.e. thinkers love to love God with their mind at the peril of their heart and vice versa, while "white collar Christians" love to love God at an online computer at the peril of breaking a sweat for God with their bodies.

As we "specialize" and learn to work from our strengths there is a danger to not live fully in all the ways God has called us to. This book is a holistic plea for us to return to the lost soul of our faith, loving God in all the ways laid out in Mark 12:30.

Some things that I personally found interesting:

  • Having a laugh with God is an important part of loving God with our mind. pg 93
  • Christians need to ask more questions and admit we don't have all the answers instead of acting like we do. pg 96
  • "Christianity was never intended to be a noun. And when we turn it into a noun, it becomes a turnoff." pg 135
  • Sin is de-energizing. Obedience is energizing. pg 145

Who is this book for? It's for people new to or on the edge of coming to faith; it's a great healthy, accurate and compelling picture of what the life is that God's calling us into. (It's a more accurate and exciting picture than most churches have painted, I'm afraid.)

It's also for people who've been following Christ for a while--especially if you're finding you're a little less excited, you have a little less wonder, you have fewer questions, and you don't seem to be laughing as much as you'd like. It's helped me reawaken some of those things in me just in the week it took me to read it.

If I could do it over, I would have read it slower. It's really worthy of pouring over slowly, evaluating, and seeking God. It would be great for a couple friends to read together or even a small group.

I thought I was reading it because I got picked to write a review and get a free book. But I got picked because God knew just how much my soul needed watering.

It's a great read.

Check out Mark Batteron's site. Buy the book.


-Morgan Young