Aug 072010

John MacArthur is one of my favorite Bible teachers, and the topic of this book is something that Wolf and I feel very strongly about, so I was really looking forward to reading it.

Meek and mild. Politically correct. A great teacher. These are the popular depictions of Jesus. But they aren’t the complete picture. Maybe because it’s uncomfortable, or maybe because it’s inconvenient, Christians and non-Christians alike are overlooking the fierceness of the Savior, His passionate mission to make the Gospel clear and bring people into the Kingdom of God. A mission that required he sometimes raise his voice and sometimes raise a whip.

My favorite point, summing it all up:

Truth doesn’t defeat error (or lies) by waging a public relations campaign.

The reality of the book, though, was somewhat disappointing.

I think part of the explanation may be found in the Acknowledgements – MacArthur thanks all the staff who have recorded, stored, and organized his sermons over the past forty-plus years. He gives special notice to his assistant who, “compiled, combined, adridged, and edited the material in this book, translating it from those hundreds of sermons to about 250 pages of prose.” Sounds like he should have a joint author credit!

My first issue is obviously not unique, as I found it eloquently spelled out over at token lines suggesting rhythm:

However, he explicitly addresses much of his biblical interpretation and personal criticism to a narrow group – those emergents and postmoderns who have hijacked or misinterpreted the Jesus of the gospels or who have selectively emphasized the “nice” side of Jesus. While these are not bad to criticize, and MacArthur does a good job of showing the fuller picture of Jesus’ hard teachings, his frequent jabs and applications to postmoderns grows tiring. More general application would have been beneficial.

I think my bigger problem, though, is that this book seems to lack a “voice” – and again, I think this may have to do with the fact that it is (or at least started life as) a compilation of MacAthur’s sermons edited by someone else.

* For a layperson or casual reader, the book is probably quite dense and boring. If you’re looking for Max Lucado, forget it. But for someone interested in a serious in-depth study, the book also falls short.

* Many areas seem repetitive and/or redundant, while other times he mentions something tantalizing then says “of course we don’t have the space in a book like this for an exhaustive study of that, but let me just point out…”

* The book is very impersonal. The title says that “I” can’t ignore Him; the subhead tells me that the books tells, “What [I] must learn from the bold confrontations of Chirst”; the back cover text carries a message about how our view of Christ colors our whole life… But the book did not speak to me. In part because it was largely slanted against the Emergent and Postmodern Evangelicals (as discussed above), but I think also in part just because of an overall lack of focus and direction.

Is it a good book, with tons of good information? Absolutely.

Is it compelling, life altering, or profound? Sorry, no.


I received this product free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program; I was not compensated in any other way for this review. This review has not been approved or edited by anyone.
I was “disclosing” before it was cool. See my Review Policy for the full scoop.

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