I have been reading a lot of non fiction lately, both for the blog and for other reasons. While different in substance, and even style, there is an element of knowing what you are getting into with a non-fiction piece that I really like. The words themselves will surprise, or even offend me, but the form and shape is fairly constant from one to another. Active Spirituality is sub titled “Grace And Effort in the Christian Life.” When I sat down to read it for review I knew what I was expecting, and I had some idea of the topics the author would discuss. I was interested to see where exactly he would land on this thin balancing beam between true grace and antinomianism. Instead, I still haven’t figured out exactly what I was reading.
This is not a theological treatise. This is not a devotional. This is not an opinion piece. I was baffled. Frankly, I put it down and gave up. But I kept coming back to it.
Active Spirituality is written as a series of letters between a pastor and relatively new Christian. It has a rambling, non-linear structure. The subjects seem to come at random, then disappear, only to reappear three or four letters later, tied to another thought, or idea. I felt as if I had entered a conversation in which I had missed the introductions and a few key facts. I was that awkward person who smiles and nods but never knows exactly what is going on.
Except, just as I was ready to toss it aside, and say, “enough of this!” there would be a moment of brilliant clarity. The chapters on the armor of God were amazing. The idea of acedia (spiritual laziness) was brand new to me, and extremely convicting. And the style of the book itself became a teaching tool for me.
The bottom line is that friendships and conversations are never linear and tidy. I often leave conversations feeling that there were only snatches of ideas, threads of possible topics, instead of orderly discourse that would meet a rhetoric guideline. Yet, when I am back with that friend another day, something picks up something else and we’re back tugging at that thread again, much like the letters in this book.
I wish I had read this book for book club, instead of for review. I have no idea what I thought of it, and I would love to sit back and listen to what others took away. If you’re looking for a bible study or an instructional manual regarding law and grace and personal responsibility, this isn’t what you’re looking for. But it is a good example of how we disciples those with whom we have relationships, and I think new believers would find it helpful.
You can click here to listen to an interview with the author, which will be far clearer than my review.
I received no compensation for this post. I was provided an electronic copy for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one. I keep a disclosure statement here.