Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Difficult book to review

When I disagree with a book, it is always difficult for me to review it.  That is the case this morning.  I began reading a devotional by April Yamasaki, Sacred Pauses.  

This book is a thorough exposition about how to spend time with God.  It's written clearly and succinctly.  There are a few personal stories scattered through the book, but not an abundance.  This book would be a good choice if this is what you're looking for. If it isn't, I'd recommend Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire instead, or one of his devotional books.  

So, how would you know if this book is for you? 
1)  What is your church's view of Scripture?
2)  Is your church's denomination open to women pastors? 
3)  Do you view Jesus as your high priest, going before you to God?  Do you see yourself as having a relationship with Jesus or do you view him as an example of how to have a relationship with God? 

I grew up in Quaker church in Southern California.  After leaving home for college, I realized that I'd heard a lot about God growing up, but not about Jesus.  I also learned a lot about Quaker history.  During college, I happened to work at an evangelical Quaker summer camp and I came to understand what it meant to have faith in Christ.  It also changed my perspective on the theology of the church I grew up attending.  We talked a lot about walking with God and how we could do that.  I learned a lot.  But, I also missed Jesus Christ. 

That is what, or rather who, is missing in this book.  Like another reviewer on Amazon, I realized quickly after I started reading this book that the author is a woman pastor.  I wasn't sure what to think about that, because also like the other reviewer, women aren't pastors in the denomination of the church I attend.  I tried to set it aside.  As I read the book, the author made a lot of great solid and biblical points about spending time with God.  She even mentioned Jesus.  But, I realized as the book went on that she refers to Jesus as an example of how to have a relationship with God, not as our Savior.  I began to see what I realized about the church I grew up in.  Jesus is missing from the relationship.  Jesus is our high priest.  (see Hebrews 4:14) I did go to Ms. Yamasaki's church's website and the church does seem to grasp what Christ did for us.  But, there are some nuances in how Jesus is presented in this book that still make him seem like more of an example and not a savior in my reading of this book.

If you read this book and keep in mind what you know about Christ dying for your sins and that he is our high priest, then there is some solid encouragement about how to have good quiet times with the Lord.

I know that this book would really encourage a lot of people.  And I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote this review.  The author's theology is quite different from mine and I am particularly sensitive because of my Quaker upbringing.  I think this book would be very encouraging to many members of Quaker and Mennonite churches like the one I grew up in.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Herald Press.  

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