1 Star: Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson

Like Batterson's book "The Circle Maker", this book is very troubling and must be read carefully with much discernment and compared to the Bible carefully. Many have publicly commented negatively on the direction that author Mark Batterson's teachings are taking and the direction he may be headed – with accusations of "witchcraft", "ritual magic", "Jewish Talmud", a “prosperity gospel” "name-it-claim-it" direction of money, greed, false promises and a "me-centered theology", rather than "God-centered Christianity". Remember, the best false teachers slip teachings "that tickle our ears and appeal our our selfish desires" in the middle of many statements of truth. Pray for discernment before you read this book.

As a fellow-Christian and double-ly as a fellow 5 pt Calvinist, I wish I could say I believe the teachings of Mark Batterson are biblical. I read many statements about God's sovereignty and God's glory that my heart delighted over. However, in conclusion, I must agree with other reviewers that this book is absolutely promoting "prosperity gospel" and sadly, it is wrapped in the most clever, carefully-worded mask that I have EVER seen. This is not the easily visible greedy "prosperity gospel" of the "Word Faith" or "Word of Faith" cult. This is "prosperity gospel" carefully masked between beautiful statements of how we are to live our lives trusting in a sovereign God and living to glorify God! How "crafty" was the snake/Satan in the garden. Do not fall for his carefully disguised lies.

For every sentence, ask yourself "Do these teachings match the Bible?"

"In Luke 11[:5-10], Jesus tells a story about a man who won’t take no for an answer. He keeps knocking on his friend’s door until he gets what he came for. It’s a parable about prevailing in prayer. And Jesus honors his bold determination: “… yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.” I love this depiction of prayer. There are times when you need to do whatever it takes. You need to grab hold of the horns of the altar and not let go. You need to dare demonic forces to a duel. You need to do something crazy, something risky, something different." Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510). 
John Calvin says this verse means, "Believers ought not be discouraged, if they do not immediately obtain their desires, ... we have no reason to doubt that God will listen to us, if we persevere constantly in prayer..." However, notice how the alarm bells go off in your head when you read Batterson apply this to life by adding "there are times when you need to do WHATEVER IT TAKES." "You need to dare demonic forces to a duel." Is this biblical? Although some modern day Pentecostals believe we are to "go to battle with demons", the bible does not teach this. Batterson follows with this example extracted from the Jewish Talmud Scriptures (which Christians very much reject, as the Talmud is written by rabbis hostile towards Jesus) of "doing whatever it takes":
"The epitome of shameless audacity is the circle maker himself. When a severe drought threatened to destroy a generation of Jews, Honi drew a circle in the sand, dropped to his knees, and said, “Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon Your children.” It was a risky proposition. Honi could have been in that circle a long time! But God honored that bold prayer because that bold prayer honored Him. And even when God answered that prayer for rain, Honi had the shameless audacity to ask for a specific type of rain. “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of Your favor, blessing, and graciousness.” Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510). Zondervan.
First, this is a story from the Jewish Talmud, which includes some bizarre stories and portrays Jesus as a false prophet. We do not affirm anything in the Talmud to be a true account on its own basis. So we do not know that God honored any such prayer/demands from anyone named Honi. Batterson has dangerously gone into the Jewish Talmud and ripped a story out and is using it as a basis for teaching Christian prayer.
"The moral of this parable is to prevail in prayer, but it also reveals the character of Him who answers prayer. The request is not granted simply because of repeated requests. Prayer is answered to preserve God’s good name. After all, it’s not our reputation that is on the line; it’s His reputation. So God doesn’t answer prayer just to give us what we want; God answers prayer to bring glory to His name." Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 496-510). Zondervan.
I can just see a dozen professing Christians demanding God grant their prayers "or else God will have a bad name." Or going before unbelievers and declaring "God will heal your mother or else He will have a bad name!" This is a very dangerous claim and I do not believe that Batterson accurately portrays prayer "for God's glory" as "according to God's will" and "according to God's foreordained purpose that is set from the foundation of the world" is nearly always left out of the context.
"Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle."
Draw a chalk circle around yourself and demand that God grant your prayers or you will not leave your little chalk circle [Batterson teaches the "don't leave" in his The Circle Maker" book]? How unbiblical and disrespectful and dishonoring of God. How self-focused and self-centered. Is this how Jesus taught us to pray? What happened to praying according to the Father's will?
Dozens of farmers showed up to pray [for rain]. Most of them wore their traditional overalls, but one of them wore waders! ...Why not dress for the miracle? I love the simple, childlike faith of that old, seasoned farmer. He simply said, “I don’t want to walk home wet.” And he didn’t. But everyone else did. ...... I can’t help but wonder if that act of faith is what sealed the miracle. I don’t know for sure, but this I do know: God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers! And acting as if means acting on our prayers. After hitting our knees, we need to take a small step of faith. And those small steps of faith often turn into giant leaps. Like Noah, who kept building an ark day after day, we keep hammering away at the dream God has given us. Like the Israelites, who kept circling Jericho for seven days, we keep circling God’s promises. Like Elijah,10 who kept sending his servant back to look for a rain cloud, we actively and expectantly wait for God’s answer. ...... Don’t just pray about your dream; act on it. Act as if God is going to deliver on His promise. Maybe it’s time to put on waders and act as if God is going to answer. Mark Batterson. Draw the Circle (Kindle Locations 539-559). Zondervan.

Exactly like the "Word of Faith" cult that is the primary promoter of the "prosperity gospel", Batterson starts encouraging believers to "take a step in faith." This is the same false teaching referred to as "seed faith" by the "name-it-claim-it" group. Biblical "trusting faith" is trusting in God to do the best thing for you whichever way He decides to answer your prayer. It is not "acting as if God were going to grant your prayer in the way you want it to" as if this "voodo" "mind over matter" could fool God into granting that prayer just as you wish Him to. This is completely unbiblical.

Especially, take note of Batterson's false claim: "I can’t help but wonder if that act of faith is what sealed the miracle." Your "acting as if God were going to give you your desires" is NOT faith and it does NOT "seal" or "grant" or "cause God to move" in any such way. This is the unbiblical teaching of "seed faith", "faith-ing-it" or "mind over matter" or "mind over God". It is using your "behavior" to "fool God/prompt God" to give you what you want.

Immediately next, Batterson makes the bold declaration: "this I do know: God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers" This is completely false! First, God ALWAYS answers our prayers. Sometimes it's a "yes", "no", "later" but He ALWAYS answers them. So "acting as if He were going to answer "yes"" as if this little "behavior" were to twist God into answering a "yes" is completely false. Why not act as if God were to answer "no"? Same logic. This is completely unbiblical.

Like the master of deception himself, Batterson then cleverly slips in "we keep hammering away at the dream God has given us" [as the Israelites and Elijah did]. Notice that Israel and Elijah were given commands directly from God. "Our dreams" "wants" "desires" are not something God told us to pursue through a prophet. In fact, they are often worldly and contrary to the desires of God. This is why often God's answers to our prayers is a "no" because our Father knows these "wants" are not for our own good.

The number of passages in this book that teach an unbiblical view of prayer are astounding. This book is entirely "prosperity gospel" masked in low-Calvinism. And even then, the low-Calvinism promoted by Batterson is very tainted with a "man can influence God through clever tricks" theology.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely. 

If you disagree with any point in any of my reviews, please in a loving, edifying and respectful manner, write me "as you wish someone would correct you" in detail pointing out exactly what you think I missed. I long to be sharpened. God bless.

3 Stars: Twelve Unlikely Heroes

A sovereign grace baptist non-denominational pastor, John MacArthur, spends a lot of time delving into indepth profiles of 12 biblical characters in this book. He expounds on each character, dedicating one full chapter for each biography: Enoch, Joseph, Miriam (sister of Moses), Gideon and Samson, Jonathan (King Saul's son), Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James (Jesus' brother), and Mark and Onesimus. This book serves as expanded biographies on each of these characters and concentrates more on making heroes out of men than on focusing our eyes on the Lord. It would have been most beneficial to have more of a God-related and gospel-related focus.

The book is a long, expanded, drawn out look into biblical characters. The biblical material for some of these characters is quite limited, so the author does not always stay on main character as the topic. For example, Enoch is only mentioned in a couple of bible passages. So, how does MacArthur dedicate an entire chapter (about 10% of the book) to Enoch, when very little is written about Enoch? He fills in the paragraphs with extra material having only a light correlation to Enoch. This extra filler material has little relevance to Enoch. The author spends an entire section telling us that Enoch has a nature like ours. But this is a given, because Enoch was also a man. Every single human being shares a similar "human nature". Why do we need 6 lengthy paragraphs on Enoch being a man like us? This is not relevant material and without all this "filler material" this chapter would be a short page or two. Next, MacArthur launches into the fact that Enoch walked with God. Since this is all the Bible says, MacArthur expands about 30 long paragraphs to tell us what walking with God is about. It may be beneficial to hear about walking with God, but it has no direct relevance to Enoch's biography. All the author's additional "filler material" really makes this more of "sermons on Enoch" rather than "a biography."

Reading this book was like reading a term paper where the student took a subject that rendered only 2 paragraphs and blew it up and filled it with extraneous material to expand those 2 paragraphs into a 15 page paper, except the author continuously loses the main subject - the characters of Enoch, Miriam, etc.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.

2 Stars: 10 Christians Everyone Should Know by John Perry

10 Christians Everyone Should Know is composed of 10 short biographies of an odd seemingly random selection of men and women, many of whom are obscure and less-well-known Christians. I was quite surprised that many of these lesser-known figures were included in this book as "Christians everyone should know" while the most famous Christian names that every Christian should REALLY know are all left out: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, etc. Some of the figures chosen are famous outside of Christian circles, like: Galileo and Johann Sebastian Bach. Others are very well-known inside Christian circles to this day, like John Bunyan and Dwight Moody. But the rest are a mix and I'm afraid the reader may not see the relevance of knowing the biographies of these individuals.

The biographies are well-written accounts from birth, childhood to death of each individual. They highlight many of the most notable achievements and memories. The title of this book is "10 Christians Everyone Should Know: Lives of the Faithful and What They Mean to You"; however, these are simple biographies and "what they mean to you" is not included in this book. I found myself bored with most of the biographies and not seeing the relevance for me today. Especially, I found the women's biographies dragging on and having more to do with "she lived here and had kids and moved here" than anything to do with Christianity or Christian living. I didn't see a point to knowing the life story and didn't find any relevance to my own life.

Saint Patrick's biography (the first in the book) was also a bit troublesome for me because many of the biggest best stories were "according to legend" and then sometimes our author added "but it may not have been true." So his biography felt like a lot of tall tales with little fact. I finished feeling like he had been blown up into a "hero" with many exaggerated stories.

My favorite biographies were those of Galileo, John Bunyan and D.L. Moody. The reason is that these figures are known in society and Christianity, so there is some relevance in knowing a bit about them. But if I go to my fellow Christian and start talking about Sergent York or William F Buckley Jr, they will have no idea who he is and why they should care. This book failed to show why the 10 people chosen "should be known by everyone." I would rather read about 10 more relevant Christians that actually had a huge impact on Christianity: John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Cornelius Van Til, William Tyndale, Augustine, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.

1 Star: Cruel Harvest by Fran Elizabeth Grubb

You will need a strong stomach to make it through this book. This memoir is a rated-r book that re-lives the horrifying tale of one man's descructive behavior on his family. It is a horror story of brutality: a detailed and sickening account of one man beating countless women into lifeless bloody messes on a daily basis, raping his own daughters night after night, murdering his newborn daughter and living a lawless, angry, power-hungry life as an unstoppable devil. The detail in this book will horrify you. And knowing it is a memoir will horrify you more.

I can handle horror movies easily, but after reading this book I was left feeling dirty and sick to my stomach. This was the most unpleasant book I've ever read. The only movie more unpleasant than this book that I've seen was "Boys Don't Cry" with a brutal rape scene. My usual peaceful dreams were even replaced with a nightmare of my own father hunting down the women in my family. I think many women will have a difficult time reading through the sheer brutality of the endless beatings that cover page after page in this book. The entire book is one account of beating after beating after rape of a minor after beating after rape and so on. I could not find anything uplifting or edifying in these pages. The best I could say is that it will awake readers to the importance of raising good sons and strong daughters.
I cannot recommend this book to most readers due to its graphic nature, unpleasantness and sadly, yes, unbiblical teachings. The abused girls prayed throughout the book and that was about the extent of Christianity in this book. At the end of the book, it is revealed that our main character, Frances, chose to date "an unbeliever" and writes "Wayne was not yet a Christian. I learned later that he had asked God for someone to pray and go to church with. He had faith, believed in God, and wanted to learn more, but had not yet totally trusted God for salvation." Her theology is incorrect. If God freely justifies and gives an individual the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit, they are a believer. So, either Wayne was already a believer or he did not have faith. All believers have faith. You cannot have true faith and be an unbeliever. Faith is a gift from God and not a human's commitment or dedication to live the Christian life.

Fran also misapplies the biblical verse "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." This verse in Reformed Theology is law to unbelievers and is used to demonstrate our INABILITY to uphold the law and our need for a savior. It is impossible for man to forgive the sins of others perfectly. Once we are justified by God and given the Holy Spirit, we are free from this law and can live spiritually to forgive others out of the correct motivation. Fran is using a legalistic motivation of fear that God will cast her out and she will lose her salvation if she doesn't force herself to humanly forgive. However, I believe the Bible teaches that our correct motivation should be love and we forgive others AS we were forgiven by Christ. It is a positive motivation and not a negative motivation. This is the difference between living a life of works-righteousness verses living to glorify God out of love and admiration. Fran is teaching legalism here, which is a heavy yoke around a Christian's neck.

For further reading on the truth of understanding the difference between Justification and Read "Christ Is Lord" from Michael Horton so that you will get a very clear view of Justification apart from Sanctification
Listen to White Horse Inn's radio broadcast called "Give Them Grace" with Michael Horton interviewing Elyse Fitzpatrick. It took me like 10 times of listening to this to finally get what they were saying because it was so profound and deep and opposite from what I had been believing. They talk about how to live for glorifying God EVEN when we fail. This is so deep.
Also listen to/read these sermons from John Piper:
Eternal Life Has Appeared in*Christ - Desiring God
Let Us Walk in the Light of*God - Desiring God
Jesus Christ Is an Advocate for*Sinners - Desiring God (This one is SOOO convicting. It talks about Jesus dying for our sins and how we should not take sin lightly)
Also, listen to White Horse Inn radio broadcast's "Antinomianism part 1" and "Antinomianism part 2"

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.

4 Stars: Covenant Child by Teri Blackstock

If you are looking for an edifying Christian fiction book that will magnify your love of God, you've come to the right place. Living up to her reputation as a leader Christian fiction author, Teri Blackstock's writing skills are far superior than other authors. Blackstone weaves a very enjoyable and captivating story about family and love in this re-telling of the the prodigal son story. This book leaves readers with a lingering though: "Wow, how beautiful is this story of a savior and an inheritance that sounds too good to be true." This is a story about grace and an inheritance that is free.

Readers should know that this book does not focus directly on Christianity, Jesus or God, as the main characters are not Christian or shown praying or coming to believe in Christ. I wouldn't have expected to recommend a book where the main characters don't become Christian, but the thing I loved about this book is that by the end, I believe most readers will see God through this story in a stronger way than all those Christian fiction books that portray Christian main characters.

The story is about redemption and a savior who loves unconditionally. The story shows the main characters come to believe their "savior" (a mother in this fiction story) has good intentions towards them and is not "too good to be true" and not "seeking to use them" and when they finally realize this life with their mother/savior is the thing they want the most, their mother/savior is standing with open arms, welcoming them home. Her love for them is unconditional and she freely forgives their rejection and hatred of her. The only thing missing from this story is relating the mother/savior to Jesus Christ. The reader must ponder the story afterwards to see the deeper meaning.

Readers should be aware that this book may not be appropriate for younger audiences: underage girls are sleeping around without any remorse or regret or repentance, molestation from father, child abuse from parents, alcoholism, gambling, drug abuse, one severe beating, deaths, abortion with no lasting/deep consequences and very difficult life situations.

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.

2 Stars: Honest Wrestling by K. Howard Joslin

Honest Wrestling is the diary account of a family's struggle to keep the faith through three miscarriages, joblessness and the loss of Ann, a wife and mother, to cancer. Their struggle is real and their diary entries are deeply sad and touching. Readers may learn worthwhile lessons from their examples. It was beautiful to read Ann's diary entries and see her continuously praising God through her pain and cancer, praying and holding out hope until the very end. It was her faith and strength that encouraged her husband, Howard Joslin, a Dallas Theological Seminary grad, to not turn against God in hatred but to hold out hope that God is good. After Ann's death, when Howard went through a period of doubting God's existence, he remembered many of Ann's prayers that God had clearly answered.

One of the most touching parts of this book was to read about Ann's faithful praises and prayers through three miscarriages. While her husband went through another period of anger towards God, she continued to hold out hope and ask God for another child in the example of a woman named Hannah in 1 Samuel. Just like Hannah, the Lord answered Ann's prayers and granted her a healthy baby girl, which she rightfully named Hannah.

Sadly, it seems the struggle Howard Joslin has with loving and trusting God is greatly magnified by his incorrect theology and beliefs about God. While Ann's diary entries are mostly filled with praises to God and hope, most of Howard's are angry, doubting and hostile towards God. From the beginning of the book to the end, Howard wrestles with questions of God's goodness, continuously asking "What the heck?" after each bump in his life: from unemployment to getting a difficult job to not getting the job he wanted. Howard's anger towards God is magnified because he believes he is entitled to good things and shakes his fist at God for not giving Howard the pleasures in life that Howard wants. Howard's theology and life are self-centered instead of god-centered. But the truth is that God doesn't owe humans anything and we should be grateful for every day that He sustains our very breath and provides for even our most basic needs. As humans, we can get so spoiled and start demanding blessings from God and forget to be thankful for each and ever blessing the Father does give us, including the blessing of life itself! Paul writes, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you."

Clips from Howard's writings:
- "But in my discouragement (over being unemployed) I couldn't bring myself to sing. How could I sing if I wasn't convinced that God really was good? He sure didn't seem like it."
- "God's encore was a failure to provide that perfect job at the symphony. It was close to the seminary, had a short work week and even paid well. What the heck?"

One of the most important lessons that can be learned from this book is to see how Howard's incorrect Arminian theology warped his worldview and lead to false beliefs about God and these false beliefs lead to false thinking, false feelings, incorrect actions and a life of anger, doubting and misery. Howard's incorrect theology was exasperated by his learning from unreliable sources: Dallas Theological Seminary (confused seminary school that teaches a confused mix between Calvinism and Arminianism) and reading Arminian authors (some with a reputation of writing "fluff") and all who teach confused theologies that do not teach the truth about man's relationship to God and the purpose of suffering: Philip Yancy, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, N.T. Wright, Duane Miller, and Richard Foster.

Clips from Howard's writings:
- If we take a closer look at Hannah's vow, we discover that it is distinctive. Most vows promise something like this, "If you do so-and-so, then I'll do such-and-such." But Hannah promises, "If you give me such-and-such, then I'll give you back such-and-such." [I fail to see the difference that Howard is referring to here. The two look the same to me.]
- A few months ago I had some rare deep thoughts. Why even bother to pray? Prayer doesn't make any ultimate difference in the outcome. However, thanks to all of you I have had to eat the words of this sentence and confess my lack of faith. [Howard has finished seminary at DTS but he still has such a faulty view of prayer and God]
- I know I was angry, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed and hurt. Where was God?
Why had God abandoned us?
- "Here are the 10 big reasons we made it through 8 rounds of chemo: Health insurance, chemo, prayer and the Bible." [Somehow Howard left God off the list? I'm pretty sure the Bible doesn't grant prayers.]
- This year's Top 10 list is similar to last Thanksgiving's list: Family and friends, chemo, prayer, the Bible, Cancer and Life. [Again, notice no God on the list?]
- "My prayer became, "Oh God. Don't you dare let Ann die before Paul (their son) gets here." [Notice again Howard's hostility towards God?]
- After Ann's death, Howard writes: "Ann, you always hated injustice. You hated the fact that incurable cancer had invaded our lives. You hated the fact that cancer might rob you of this priviledge." [What Howard is really saying is that "God is injust for allowing Ann to go through cancer and die. But this is untrue. God is always just. Howard doesn't understand the God of the Bible.]
- "Ann was robbed of growing old with me." [Howard is blaming God for "robbing" Ann and him]
- Just like his father, Howard and Ann's son Paul writes: "I did not understand how God could let her die. What had my mom done? What had my two little brothers and my sister done to deserve having to walk through the rest of their childhood without their mom? And with all the evil things happening in the world, how can God still be good? How can we trust him? [The end]" [Wow. I am deeply saddened for their son Paul. I have added this family to my prayer list, that God might direct them to come to know Him as He truly is - magnificent, all powerful, all loving, and completely just in every way. Please add them to your prayer list as well.]

Howard did mention author John Piper in his book in passing but it is clear that Howard didn't read or listen to enough of John Piper's sermons to get a correct view of God. I encourage everyone to learn about the loving, powerful, fully sovereign God of the Bible. Two of the most AMAZING teachings you will ever hear on suffering are these two sermon from John Piper, explaining God and suffering: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/why-was-this-child-born-blind and http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-works-of-god-and-the-worship-of-jesus

My disclaimer - I received this book from the publisher but I am not required to give a positive review. I always give brutally honest reviews and attempt to critically point out parts of the book that may not agree with the Bible and so not appeal to others. I want you readers to be able to confidently choose a book based on the stars I give it, because I know you have limited money, time and energy to read. So let's make the most of our lives and discern and choose the very best books wisely.


1 Star: The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus

The goal of this book is worthy: McManus attempts to encourage believers not to limit their Christian lives to living in a safe, comfortable, selfish, superficial, self-righteousness and legalistic life. Mark Batterson's book Primal was a successful, well-written book that provided readers with a biblically accurate view on this subject. Sadly, The Barbarian Way leans closer to the unbiblical teachings of John Eldredges' Wild at Heart book in that in their attempt to sell a concept and capitalize off a catchy book title, both authors end up taking the concept too far, stretching the Bible to say what it does not say and in the end, turning Jesus and his followers into wild men and a barbarians.

It seems that the title "Barbarian" was so important to McManus that he overemphasizes this one word and ends up taking the concept of "getting back to the roots of real Christianity" and turns following Christ into a beastly, macho, wild, crazy religion that scoffs at anything resembling "civilized." McManus takes it too far when he continuously puts down "a normal life" as "predictable, boring, mundane" and pushes Christians to live "an adventurous, dangerous, risky, crazy life" as a barbarian. The book seems to promote thrill-seeking and self-glorification through risk-taking, as McManus encourages rushing into life decisions based on feelings and emotions and the sense that "God is speaking to you". He gives one example of what "living like a barbarian should look like" when he told a room full of men during a meeting "Don't go around the world and make our missionaries mentally healthy. You'll ruin everything. You'll totally mess up the cause. Let's say you have a husband and wife and four kids in an obscure city in Central Asia and suddenly they find themselves in the middle of 2 million people who don't speak a word of English. And each morning, they'll wake up excited and confident that somehow they're going to bring that entire city to faith in Jesus Christ. You go and make them normal, and they'll be on a plane back home the next day." (Pg 81)

Some quotes for thought:
  • When asked if they are Christians, [barbarians'] answer might surprisingly be no, they are passionate followers of Jesus Christ.
  • When Christianity becomes just another religion, it focuses on what God requires. Just to keep people in line, we build our own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who believes in Jesus becaome a good citizen. It's hard to imagine that Jesus would endure the agony of the Cross just to keep us in line. Jesus began a revolution to secure our freedom. We would delight in God, and He would give us the desires of our hearts. Without hearts burning for God, we would move forward with the freedom to pursue the passions burning within us. (Pg 6-7)
  • My daughter had a dream to give to others but I didn't see it initially, but I was trying to civilize her instead of unleashing the untamed faith within her. After all, I'm her dad. It's okay if I live a life of irrational faith and breathtaking adventure. I want something different for her. I want her to have security and safety - you know, a predictable, boring, mundane life. (pg 10-11)
  • Perhaps the tragedy of our time is that such an overwhelming number of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become domesticated - or, if you will, civilized. Maybe John was alluding to that in the Apocalypse when he told the church of Ephesus that they had lost their first love (Rev 2:1-4). (Pg 12). [McManus' concept of John's Revelation alluding to the church of Ephasus becoming "domesticated" seems to stretch the natural reading of the scriptures far out of context.]
  • Those who are most religious will be most offended and indignant. The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities. (Pg 15)
  • It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form the barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. (Pg 17)
  • John the Baptist was a true barbarian with camel's hair clothes. John stands out with his unusual dress and no formal education, and his mailing address was the wilderness.
  • Pg 55: You will hear the voice of Christ and His barbarian call if you listen carefully enough.
  • Pg 77: Later I would go on to seminary and learn that God doesn't speak like this anymore. Essentially I was told that God exchanged the mystical and miraculous for doctrine and ritual. The Scriptures became proof that God had stopped speaking. But I had already experienced God in both the mystical and miraculous.
  • Pg 84: My son asked about the voice of God. He would often hear me talk about having conversations with God (most of us call this prayer), and it piqued his curiosity. On top of that, he heard me teach and share mystical and miraculous experiences with God. When he asked me, "What does God's voice sound like?" I guess when I think about it, God's voice sounds a lot like my voice. After all, the Spirit speaks to us through the conscience as well as through the Scriptures.
  • Pg 88-89: My son, Aaron got in a fight with another boy who called his mother names and refused to apologize. I told my son if he didn't obey God's command to apologize and rejected the voice of God and chose to disobey His guidance, [that Aaron's] heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull. And if he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when he would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken to him. But if he treasured God's voice and responded to Him with obedience, then his heart would be softened, and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul. Aaron chose to stay, I'm grateful to say. If he had chosen differently, he would have begun the path toward domestication. Perhaps he never would have rejected the faith overtly. He might have even chosen to be a faithful attender at a church and been by everyone else's estimation a good man, but he would no longer be a barbarian. [Wow. I thought this was very harsh and fear-driven. Not to mention it sounds like teaching that one can lose their salvation, which disagrees with Romans 8:38.]