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Tim Challies

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christian living

12 years 2 days ago

Pagan influences are everywhere in our culture. They are often, perhaps even primarily, unnoticed as we have become so attuned to them. Where God tells us to worship Him as the Creator, all paganism is based on somehow worshipping creation. Peter Jones has written this little book, Gospel Truth / Pagan Lies to show some of the many pagan influences in our society. He contrasts them with the truths of the gospel as summarized by the five solas of the Reformation.

The pagan influences he identifies are:

  • All is One and One is All. This contrasts with One God, One Creator (Soli Deo Gloria)
  • Humanity is One. This contrasts with One in Christ Alone (Sola Christus)
  • All Reglions Are One. This contrasts with One Truth (sola scriptura)
  • One Problem: Anmesia. This contrasts with One Problem: Death Through Sin (Sola Gratia)
  • One Escape: Look Within. This contrasts with One Escape: Look to Him (Sola Fides)

The author does a capable job of pointing out the main pagan influences on our society and does an interesting job of contrasting them with the truths of the Bible. While I found his comparisons a bit “forced” it does make a fascinating contrast between Christianity and other religions. My only real concern with the book is that I do not quite know who it would appeal to. I suspect most Christians would be familiar with the bulk of the material and the points are not well enough defended to convince unbelievers. Despite this, it is an interesting book and receives my recommendation.

12 years 1 month ago

John Eldredge’s books have become wildly popular among Christians. The Sacred Romance and Wild at Heart have sold millions of copies and have firmly established Eldredge as one of the most-read Christian authors. Wild at Heart has been studied in men’s groups across the world, giving Eldredge a wide reach and his teachings great acceptance. In Epic he changes his emphasis from a Christian audience to an unbelieving audience, as this book is clearly primarily targeted at those who are not Christians.

Conservative Christians have long been suspicious of Eldredge’s writing, and with good cause, for he does not appear to understand human depravity. In previous books he has taught that the human heart, after it is regenerated by God, becomes intrinsically good. He says that the words of Jeremiah which teach us that “the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked” no longer apply to Christians. With such a vast misunderstanding of the human condition, it is no wonder that his teachings often stray. Many of his teachings are also nearly indistinguishable from those who teach Open Theism, though he denies that he holds to this theology. I give this information as background since it is relevant to our examination of his newest book, Epic: The Story God Is Telling And The Role That Is Yours To Play.

Epic tells us that life is a story which unfolds like a grand drama. It seems that humans have an obsession with stories. From the time we are tiny children we love to hear stories about heroes and villains, good guys and bad. The reason we love story so much, Eldredge writes, is that there is something in the human heart that tells us there is an epic going around us, where God is the central character, but where we also play an important role. We love stories about the conquering hero who arrives at the last possible moment to save his lover, because that is exactly what Jesus has done for us.

The book, then, revolves around stories. The author supports his claims with example after example from popular movies. A few of the movies he references are Apollo 13, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, Pinocchio, Finding Nemo, Titanic, Braveheart, Gladiator (no surprise if you have read Wild at Heart and Star Wars. He relies heavily on quotes from other writers such as G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Yancey, Gerald May, Soren Kierkegaard, George MacDonald and William Shakespeare. The book also contains plenty of Bible verses, most taken from solid translations.

And herein lies the greatest problem with the book. Because Eldredge misunderstands the human condition, he believes that some sort of goodness inherent in the human heart causes us to seek after stories the way we should seek after God. The stories we all know and love are an expression of the human heart that tells us that we are all really part of a great, cosmic epic. While we may not consciously realize this, the heart somehow does. When Jack Dawson sacrifices his life for Rose in the movie Titanic, that is an expression of the human heart’s desire to be saved by Jesus.

Despite that problem, I will reluctantly admit that this book was not as bad as I was expecting it to be. I realize I should begin reading each book with an open mind, but having disliked his previous books so much I just couldn’t do it. While there is some poor theology in Epic, there is not nearly as much as in Eldredge’s previous books (though perhaps that has to do with the fact that this book is a mere 104 pages long). There are, however, a few problems. For example, he uses the standard argument that God gave humans absolute free will since only with free will could we truly love Him. He provides no Scriptural support for this, relying instead on a lengthy quote from Phillip Yancey. Also, many of the unbiblical teachings of his previous books find their way into this one, as we continually come across the language he uses in The Sacred Romance and Wild at Heart.

Epic, then, seems to be an effort from John Eldredge to take his message to unbelievers. It is geared as a tool for evangelism. I see little reason to believe that it will succeed in that, for there is no clear presentation of the gospel. Furthermore, he cheapens the gospel story by equating it with the message of movies such as Titanic and The Matrix. At the same time, the book is well-written and can easily be read and digested in a mere couple of hours, so I have little doubt that many will read and enjoy it. I do not recommend this book or any other of Eldredge’s writings.

12 years 2 months ago

Richard Ganz is pastor of a vibrant, growing church in Ottawa, Canada. I have had the privilege of attending that church many times over the years and have always been blessed by Richard’s exposition of Scripture. He truly is a very gifted teacher. While he is primarily a pastor, he has also written several books, the most recent of which is “20 Controversies That Almost Killed A Church.” The book examines Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, touching on twenty major themes. While Scripture is featured prominently throughout, the book avoids becoming a dry commentary. It focuses on thematic discussions rather than a thorough verse-by-verse exposition.

Ganz does a great job of interpreting the words of Paul in the light of their historical context while at the same time making the book equally relevant to the twenty first century believer. He shows how the issues faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ nearly two thousand years ago are really no different from the issues we face today. The tone of this book matches the tone of Corinthians. While First Corinthians is a pastoral book, written by a man who deeply loved and cared for his flock, so “20 Controversies” is written in a pastoral tone. Just as Paul was not afraid to call his church to task, so Ganz emulates the apostle’s example, being harsh when necessary, yet maintaining a respectful, loving tone.

It takes courage to tackle the issues of Corinthians, yet Ganz does so unapologetically. He writes forcefully about the gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, headship and situations regarding marriage and divorce. Each topic is interspersed with examples from Ganz’s own years of ministry which lends a helpful authenticity to the book. More than mere exposition, this book is built on pastoral experience. Other topics he writes about are baptism with the Holy Spirit, baptism for the dead, lawsuits against the church, divisions in the church, the scandal of the cross and idolatry.

There were two little nagging problems that I found with “20 Controversies That Almost Killed A Church.” The first was that the book was inconsistently formatted. Some chapters were presented ordinally (ie topics were listed 1) 2) 3) and so on) while others were presented with subheadings. A small problem, I admit, yet I find it is easier to read a book when the formatting is consistent. The second was that the book was not terribly well-written. While certainly readable, it is a bit clumsy in parts, especially in regards to sentence structure. However, neither of those problems significantly detracts from the book.

I found this book thought-provoking and, as Jay Adams says in his endorsement, “thoroughly biblical.” It is filled with practical guidance that allows Paul’s words to ring loud and true through two thousand years of history. I am happy to recommend this book without reservation. And as the author includes discussion questions about each chapter, I would also recommend the book for group study.

As an aside, if you have never read Richard Ganz’s testimony, I highly recommend it as an awesome example of God’s grace. You can read it here.

12 years 9 months ago
Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life is a runaway bestseller, having already sold over ten million copies, making it one of the best-selling Christian books of all time. Thousands of churches have committed to leading their congregations through the Forty Days of Purpose program. I decided to spend forty days journaling my way through this book to try to determine what they hype is all about.

The Purpose Driven Life proclaims itself to be “more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?” We see that the author is setting his sights high; he is going to attempt to answer the greatest question we can face – that of our meaning and purpose. He promises that at the end of the journey “you will know God’s purpose for your life and will understand the big picture – how all the pieces of your life fit together.” The results of this will be amazing. “Having this perspective will reduce your stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and, most important, prepare you for eternity.” It is a courageous man who would write a book that claims it will do all of that. Of course these lofty standards help us realize why this book has attracted such great attention!

The format of the book is simple. The book is divided into six parts: an introduction followed by a section for each of the five purposes Rick Warren has discovered. Each day’s reading is only a few pages long and is followed by a verse of the Bible to memorize, a point to ponder and a question to consider. The book is packed with over 1200 quotations from the Bible.

There are many positive aspects to this book. The author obviously loves the church and views the local church as a beautiful institution. He speaks of the value and necessity of Christian community that can only be gained through the local church. He is firm on this point, stating that there is no such thing as a lone Christian. He has many good things to say about worship and how so many people view worship as being about themselves rather than being an outpouring of praise and obedience towards God. He speaks of the value of identifying and utilizing our spiritual gifts.

I believe Rick Warren is a godly man who truly wants to reach the world for Christ. In interviews I have read I can see that he certainly has an understanding of the Reformed tradition and has affirmed his belief in the “five solas” of the Reformation. When with Reformed people he certainly can talk the talk, so to speak. Though I do not doubt his faith or his intentions, I find that the book itself deviates from Reformed doctrine on many points.

There are literally hundreds of reviews of this book that focus on the positive attributes of the book. Many of them are written very well and there is little I can add to them. For that reason I am going to focus on some of the concerns I have with this book.

Problems in the Introduction

As I pointed out, this book makes great promises. Though there is nothing wrong with setting high standards, what is the measure of these standards? It seems that all of these standards are based on experience. There is nothing here about having a closer walk with God. As a matter of fact, there is little promised that would not be found in a secular book about finding purpose. Experience will be the ultimate measure of whether this book has succeeded. It does not promise to change the heart or mind.

One of the primary goals of the Christian life is to learn more about God and how He wants us to live. We are then to become more and more conformed to His will. This book has little to say about this process we know as sanctification.

The book is based on a false premise that there is supernatural value to a 40-day study. The author says that “whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purposes he took 40 days.” This is simply not true. Though the 40 day time period is used quite often in Scripture, we should not be superstitious about it. There are many examples of God taking different amounts of time to prepare people. Having to force the book to a length of forty days leads to a lot of repetition, especially in the last four or five chapters.


Page 25 seems to summarize the thesis of the book. It says “We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives.” This seems to say that if the reader finds God he will also find himself and his purpose. This is not the gospel!

Multiple translations

Rick Warren quotes the Bible over 1,200 times in the text of The Purpose Driven Life. To do so, he uses fifteen different translations and paraphrases. Appendix 3 contains his rationale for this and he provides two reasons for the number of translations. The first is that in any single translation “nuances and shades of meaning can be missed, so it is always helpful to compare translations.” The second is “the fact that we often miss the full impact of familiar Bible verses, not because of poor translating, but simply because they have become so familiar.” (author’s emphases) He believes this will “help you see God’s truth in new, fresh ways.” (author’s emphasis)

The author’s logic is faulty as the two reasons he provides contradict each other. If a translation introduces something in a new and fresh way it will necessarily introduce new nuances and shades of meaning. The way to remove nuances and shades of meaning is to use as literal a translation as possible so that the words are God’s alone and are not interpreted by the translator. The author can then exposit the text, clarifying what might require clarification. This is nothing more than the traditional means of teaching what the Bible says.

As for verses losing their full impact, this may happen to some Christians, but rather than use poor Scripture translations, the author should help the reader focus on the fact that as a Christian he should love the Bible. As with David, God’s Law is to be our delight day and night and not something we grow tired of.

There is a serious impact to Warren’s use of so many translations. It shows his view of the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture. It seems that he does not believe that the Bible as God wrote it is sufficient for people today. He must believe that a very loose paraphrase like The Message can impact people in a way that the real translations cannot. He shows that he is not a faithful expositor of the Bible.


The author aims this book at two distinct audiences – believers and unbelievers. He shows that he is, initially at least, writing for unbelievers by inviting them to pray a short prayer, asking them to say “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” He then welcomes them to the family of God. I fear, though, that he uses too many Christian terms and phrases to really connect with unbelievers. Similarly, if he is hoping to reach new Christians, I think the same holds true – the “Christianese” terms and many of the Biblical references may alienate them. On the other hand, if he is hoping to reach mature Christians, much of the book will be too simplistic for them.

We know from the Bible that there is a vast difference between believers and unbelievers. Those who have come to a saving knowledge of Christ have had their very natures changed. They have become adopted children of God and have become heirs to His promises. They have special privileges and they have knowledge and faith that unbelievers do not. This is not to say that a book can or should not be written that attempts to reach both audiences. What it does mean is that an author must be sure to distinguish between audiences, being careful not to mislead either audience.

Warren often fails to differentiate between audiences. For example, in the second chapter he quotes Ephesians 1:4 which reads “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” The context of this verse shows that the author is referring to only Christians, yet Warren makes no distinction.

The Gospel

The author does not at any time provide a clear explanation of the gospel message. On page 58 he says, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ” but never comes closer than that. He never writes about such crucial doctrines as man’s sinfulness and need for a Savior or the work of Jesus. He never mentions the importance Christ’s life, the cross or the empty tomb. Yet on page 58 we find him leading the prayer of “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you” and then saying “Welcome to the family of God!” How can a person become a Christian without any understanding of his own sinfulness or of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf?

The author paints God’s relationship with humans as being nothing but love. On page 294 he says “God has never made a person he didn’t love.” Yet we know that God expressed hatred towards Esau and Pharaoh. It seems that the author would have no explanation for such displays of hatred.

Warren’s gospel seems to be one of purpose. He teaches that man’s greatest problem is purposelessness and this book will remedy that situation by helping the reader discover his purpose. Needless to say, this is not the gospel as taught by the Bible. The Bible teaches that man’s greatest problem is that he is a sinner and is alienated from God. Purposelessness is insignificant compared to the possibility of an eternity in hell.

Life Application

The aim studying the Bible is application. We are to study the Bible so we can apply what we learn to our lives, with the ultimate aim of conforming ourselves to the image of Christ. Application, though, depends on proper teaching and sound knowledge. It stands to reason that a person cannot apply to his life something he does not understand. Teaching stands as the foundation that application is built upon.

Since Warren does not explain the gospel and the real means of salvation, how can people truly apply what he teaches? If everything is application, what do they really believe in?


The Purpose Driven Life is premised on the teaching that only Christians can live with purpose. It follows, then, that unbelievers have no real purpose to their lives. Yet the Bible teaches that they do! Proverbs 16:4 says “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Unbelievers do have a purpose, though it is not the same as the purpose God has for those who believe in Him. Interestingly, in chapter seven the author quotes this passage but omits the second half of the verse.

Bible Use

We have already seen how the author has used multiple translations as well as his justification for doing so. Of even greater concern is his carelessness in his use of the Bible. He continually removes Scripture passages from their proper context in order to make them suit his purposes. He carelessly applies promises to the reader that clearly do not apply. He also distorts or changes the meanings of certain passages to make them say what he wants them to say.

First we will examine promises Warren says apply to all Christians. One clear example of this is Jeremiah 29:11 which he uses multiple times in the book. On page 31 we read “Wonderful changes are going to happen in your life as you begin to live it on purpose. God says “I know what I am planning for you…’I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future’.” When read in context we see that this verse is not written to apply to all Christians. It is a promise given specifically to the Israelite exiles. By Warren’s logic Jeremiah 44:27 should also apply to all Christians. It reads, “I am watching over them for harm and not for good, and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the word and by famine until they are completely gone.” A pastor once told me “that verse wouldn’t sell as many plaques at the Christian book stores.”

A second example is Isaiah 44:2. This is used in the heading of the second chapter and is rendered “I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.” The author chooses to quote only the first part of the verse. The second part, we see, goes directly against what he wants to say. It reads “Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.” When viewed in the proper context we see that this verse applies only to a specific group (which is, once again, the Israelites).

There are some passages where Warren uses the Bible extremely carelessly. The clearest example of this is in chapter 10 where he discusses the blessing of surrendering to God. As support he quotes Job 22:21 as saying “Stop quarreling with God. If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.” When we look at the larger context of this passage we see that these are the words of Eliphaz, one of Job’s infamous friends. We see that Eliphaz is giving Job poor advice which God later condemns. Warren knows better than this!

Thomas Jefferson once said “The moment a person forms a theory his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.” The author seems to fall into a trap where he sees teachings about purpose in parts of the Bible that simply are not about purpose. For example, on page 30 he talks about the hopelessness of a life lived without purpose. In discussing this under the heading of “the benefits of purpose-driven living” he quotes the book of Job where Job says “My life drags by – day after hopeless day.” Of course familiarity with the book of Job will show that to say Job was bemoaning lack of purpose is ridiculous. A man who has had everything he owned and everyone he loved taken from him and is covered in sores is not likely to be upset by a lack of purpose in his life. In the same chapter the author quotes Genesis 4:12 which says of Cain “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Again, this is made to sound like it has something to do with purpose. And again, this is a ridiculous assertion.

There are at least fifty similar examples where the author uses Scripture outside of its context or assigns a foreign meaning. When Scripture is not used in the way God intends, this sort of inconsistency is inevitable.

Sources cited

The author quotes a number of sources other than the Bible. Many of these are quoted as if they are authorities on an area of the Christian life. Among many others, he quotes Mother Teresa, St John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence and Henri Nouwen. None of these people should be considered trusted sources of Christian advice and wisdom.


There are several conclusions we can draw. This book does contain some valuable teachings. Unfortunately it also contains a large amount of false teachings. Most alarming is the author’s blatant disregard for the proper use of Scripture. He continually uses Bible passages out of context and assigns them false meanings. He seems to view Scripture as a tool to be used and abused as he sees fit rather than seeing it as God’s holy, perfect, unchangeable standard that must be used carefully.

As for the premise of living a life driven by purpose, I remain uncertain as to whether this is really what the Bible teaches. It is interesting to examine the word “driven” in the Bible. We see that the word generally has negative connotations in Scripture. It most often denotes an active force pushing and controlling a passive subject. For example, a ship is driven by the wind and the enemies of the Israelites were driven out of the land. On the other hand the word “led” most often speaks of a believer choosing to follow God’s ways through knowing Him better. For instance the Israelites were led by a pillar of cloud which they chose to follow and Jesus taught us to ask “do not lead us into temptation.” So perhaps we are not to be driven by purpose but should instead be led by God.

I can recommend this book only to discerning readers. There is certainly some value in the book, but in my opinion the bad outweighs the good. I would certainly not use this as an introduction to Christianity or as a means of reaching unbelievers.

I am interested in seeing whether this book stands the test of time or if it is only another fad. The Christian world loves to find the “next big thing” (ie The Prayer of Jabez) but very few stand the test of time. I expect this book will have very little long-term impact in the Christian world.

12 years 11 months ago
Every Man�s Battle is the first book I have read in my adult life on the topic of sexual purity. In my teen years I was given books on the topic and I read, enjoyed and learned from them. However, this is the first book I have read on the subject as a married adult. Because I have not done a lot of reading on the subject I am unsure if Every Man�s Battle is a great book that presents ways of escaping a life of sexual temptation, or if it is a book that is deeply and irrevocably flawed.

As I read this book, I found it both interesting and inspiring. Every man can, at least to some extent, identify with the authors as they describe their struggles with sexual temptation. I appreciated their honesty and their desire to speak about topics that many books would avoid. They speak about real, significant sin. Unusually for our culture, they never tried to blame their problems on their parents, their upbringing or on Satan and his demonic forces. They accepted full responsibility for their struggles and sin. Though their pasts may have contributed to their sexual sin, they did not try to pass blame to anyone else.

Some standout quotes from the book are:

�We have countless churches filled with countless men encumbered by sexual sin, weakened by low-grade sexual fevers � men happy enough to go to Promise Keepers but too sickly to be promise keepers.� (page 58)

�God is waiting for you. But He is not waiting by the altar, hoping you�ll drop by and talk for a while.� He is waiting for you to rise up and engage in the battle. We have power through the Lord to overcome every level of sexual immorality, but if we don�t utilize that power we�ll never break free of the habit.� (page 92)

The main teaching of this book is the concept of �bouncing� the eyes. What this means is that when a man sees something that is sexually tempting he is to immediately divert his eyes. The authors state that most men, after six weeks of doing this, will make it a habit and will no longer struggle with lust the way they once did. Their eyes will naturally bounce away from objects they once found alluring. When men stop filling their minds with lustful images, they can then learn to control their thoughts and stop the cycle of sexual fantasy. The book closes with a chapter about a man�s responsibility to love and honor his wife, viewing her as the one woman God chose him to spend his life with. It is only when men are free from sexual sin that they can truly honor our wives the way God intends.

At the end of every section of the book is a piece called �Heart of a Woman� where the authors had women read the book and provide their thoughts. The women had many interesting insights, though on the whole they simply expressed an inability to understand the mind of men.

This book obviously has many good things to say. However, I find I am not completely satisfied with it. Primarily I find I am disappointed that the authors have no better solution than bouncing the eyes. I would like to believe that God can truly free men from sexual sin rather than having them lives their lives masking this sin. Perhaps that is simplistic. But can�t God free people from the sin that has bound them? I know none of us will ever be sinless, yet I do believe God can set us free from specific sins. The technique the authors espouse seems to leave God�s power out of the equation.

I also find myself taking offense on behalf of women for much of what the authors teach. For example, they say time and again that men have a 72-hour sexual cycle. Their advice to women is to work with men in this 72-hour cycle. There is very little in the book about building a good sex life where both partners give and receive pleasure. In fact, it seems that the authors believe women are almost asexual and their function in sexual activity is simply to relieve a husband of his sexual burden. On the other hand, the authors present all men as being absolutely controlled by sex. I think this book, when read by women, might really give them an overly-pessimistic view of how men think.

A minor concern I had was the many descriptions of the authors� lust. Sometimes they would describe things in such detail that I am concerned the descriptions alone could make men think lustful thoughts. The description of the jogger that one of the authors was staring at when he crashed his car is a good example.

In the end I find that I really do need to read more on this subject. I would like to read another book or two about the challenges men face to see if other people offer similar advice (bouncing the eyes) or if there really is another way of being completely freed. I hope to update this review once I have done so.

Title: Every Man�s Battle
Authors: Stephen Arterburn & Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey
Published: 2000

12 years 11 months ago

What Jesus Taught About Praise And Worship sounds like a fascinating title for a book. Never having heard of Ken Blount I was unsure as to what he was all about, but expected some interesting insights from someone who seems to have for several decades run a successful worship ministry. Alas, I was wrong.

This book is a confused mess of poor theology, bad hermeneutics and some pretty awful teaching. The few useful teachings are more than overwhelmed by the bad. The book gets off to a suspicious beginning as the author recounts an experience where the Lord supposedly gave him a prophetic song in a situation he describes as his “most powerful encounter with God’s manifest presence.” A few pages later he describes his wife’s conversion experience where she was not content just to give her life to the Lord but also insisted that she speak in tongues as well. He attributes his later conversion to his wife’s “sneaky Christianity” where she would lay hands on him and pray over him in tongues while he was sleeping. Later on he teaches that worshipping God in spirit (John 4:24) means “to pray in the Spirit in other tongues.” Doing this will active your “spirit man.” In another place he says that Jesus had the “gift of the Spirit called the word of knowledge” which enabled him to get people’s attention (specifically the woman at the well in John 4).

A large portion of the book is dedicated to an explanation of the Old Testament tabernacle and how it was a shadow of New Testament worship. His explanation is faulty and borders on the bizarre in many places.

For sake of brevity I will leave it at that.

The book is not all bad. The author does make some interesting and valid points. For example, he discusses the importance of worship in the dry times of life and the importance of being on guard for unbiblical manifestations of the Spirit. But in the end, the bad so far outweighs the good that I cannot recommend this book.

Title: What Jesus Taught About Praise & Worship
Author: Ken Blount
Published: 2000

13 years 3 months ago

From the time we are young children we are taught to behave ourselves in public. We quickly learn what behaviour is and is not acceptable when the eyes of our families and friends are on us. But who we are in public is not an accurate guage of our character. Our true character is shown when we are alone and no one is looking. It is at these times that we display our true colours.

In Who You Are When No One’s Looking, Bill Hybels outlines several character traits that he believes are becoming endangered in our culture and outlines ways we can incorporate these traits into our lives. The traits he focuses on are courage, discipline, vision, endurance and love. Love is so important that he dedicates half of the book to it, dividing it into several kinds of love, namely tender love, tough love, sacrificial love and radical love.

Though this book does not arrive at any ground-shaking conclusions, it is well worth reading and would make a fantastic 10-part Bible study. My only real complaint would be a few sentences that undermine Reformed theology (“God loves prisoners, homosexuals and bag ladies as much as he loves stock brokers, dental students and seminarians.)” (p. 62) Of course such beliefs are commonplace in the evangelical world and, frankly, not worth getting too upset about.

Title: Who You Are When No One’s Looking
Author: Bill Hybels
Published: 1987

Key Words:

  • Character
  • Perseverence
  • Christian Living