Saturday, March 8, 2014

book review—I Like Giving by Brad Formosa

focused on the wrong things

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

There is some good that could be taken from this book. Wise acts of generosity could well be considered among the good works we are to encourage each other to do, and there are some accounts in this book that could well be good ones to read and think about.

But I have a hard time really saying that this book is a good one. Here's my reasons why.

C.S. Lewis began his essay “The Weight of Glory” by noting how the old virtue of love has been replaced by the more modern virtue of unselfishness. “A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of love”.

Understand, please, that many of the accounts given in this book do express a large degree of concern for the recipient of the act of generosity. But when, for example, the author says things like “When I choose to give with no strings attached and no sense of obligation, I have the sense that I am valuable, that I am needed, that I make the world a better place”, or “Remember, giving is for you—it gives you life”, then this seems to be doing much the same thing that Lewis describes. If my act of generosity is more about making myself feel good, or about giving life to myself, rather than a real and genuine concern for the one whom I wish to help, then am I really being generous? Am I not really being selfish?

Of course, none of us have completely loving or selfless motives. As the Bible says, even all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags, and as Jesus said, even if we should do all that God says for us to do, we would still consider ourselves unprofitable servants. We all must ask God's forgiveness for the times we fail to do things for the right reasons.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this book is that, while there is a modicum of God talk, there is little to no mention of God's love for us as shown in the sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. This lack is truly sad and even without excuse, given both that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”, and “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.

In spite of some good accounts of generous acts, I simply cannot recommend this book as being a very biblically informed look at how individuals and churches should better be generous.

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