Saturday, June 14, 2014

book review—The Power of Uncommon Unity by Joey Letourneau

fairy tale theology

I got a copy of this book when the publisher offered it for free.

This book is far too long. If someone had made him to cut out all the needless repetitions, this book may well have been about half it's current size.

I hardly know where to begin in properly critiquing the unholy mess that is this book.

First, I seriously think that this author has never read the Bible. Oh, he has his pet verses he hauls out ad nauseam, thinking they prove his points when they actually don't. But any hint of a serious study of what the Bible teaches is missing in the book, and his conclusions have little if anything to do with what any passage says.

For example, his mangling of the story of Jacob in this book is enough to disqualify him from any pretense of being a Christian minister. “Jacob received the blessing from his father, Isaac, and became a renewed person.” (p. 8). Where does the account of Jacob tricking his father tell us that he became a renewed person? It ain't there. “Jacob was about to leave to begin blazing the trail that was alive within him when his father, Isaac, blessed him again:” (p. 9). This is laughable! Jacob left because Esau was making plans to kill him for his trickery. And blazing the trail that was alive with him? What kind of nonsense rhetoric is that! “But we see that Jacob arrives at Bethel and he is at rest. He is not striving to prove himself or create significance.” (p. 11). It was night! Jacob was sleeping, what most people do at night! This guy's attempts to read his ideas into Jacob's life are so pathetic, that they cross over into the comedic!

Oh, and what he does to the account of Jesus raises Lazarus is, if anything, even worse. “Lazarus was wearing grave clothes, probably could have been considered unclean and in need of some help before he could go forward in life. Even Martha, who so eagerly waited for the miracle she wanted, couldn’t help but focus on the stench of death.” (p. 49). When Martha spoke about the smell, it was when her brother was still dead. “Rather, Jesus called out the life in Lazarus knowing that death would be left behind as Lazarus began to live forward. Jesus spoke to the potential of life within him, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11: 43).” (p. 50). What??? There was no life in Lazarus! He was DEAD!!! He had been DEAD for a few days! Lazarus didn't begin to live forward (whatever that means), he was brought back to life. There was no potential of life in him, Jesus himself made a dead man alive again.

Shall I go on? He tries to say that we have to be “shaken”, because of something that happened to a small group of people in the account in Acts 4. That is never taught in Scripture. “How many of us are waiting to be lifted into the same palace of our calling as Joseph was? That palace is waiting for you too, but it might not be where you thought it would be.” (p. 66). The account of Joseph is not intended to tell us that we all have some kind of real or metaphorical palace just waiting for us, any more than the account of Moses tells us we have to leave the palace and go into the wilderness.

This guy's main idea is unity. That's all well and good, but for all of his words in this too-long book, we get very little notion of what that unity is to be built around. And Christian unity is built around certain things. Read the epistles, and you'll see that those who tried to come into the churches and teach against sound doctrine, for example saying that Gentile Christians needed to put themselves under the Mosaic law, or that Christ had already returned, or attempted to add any works to salvation, were decried in the harshest terms. The early church was hardly a big tent.

But this guy's rhetoric is postmodern. “Unity in the Spirit is a seemingly misaligned alignment held together by the One who celebrates our diversity and created us to come together not in spite of, but because of our differences.” (from the Introduction). What diversity are you talking about? “The Father’s Blessing changes this; it embraces the differences in our lives and releases us to approve and empower the differences in others.” (p. 6). What differences are you talking about?

This isn't just a nitpicky set of questions. One of this author's other books, Revolutionary Freedom, has a positive review in it from Shane Claiborne, who is a part of the Emergent Church, someone way far to the left on theological and social issues. Any “unity” that welcomes someone like Claiborne is not Christian unity. The author favorably quotes Bill Johnson in this book. Any “unity” that welcomes Bill Johnson is not Christian unity. The author writes of the nonsense that happened in Toronto as if it were from God, which is wasn't. Any “unity” that says that is not Christian unity.

In the end, this book is more fairy tale than theology. As I've shown in a few examples, this guy doesn't tell us what the Bible says, he creates his own ideas and adds a little seasoning of biblical verses to make it seem like biblical teaching. His rhetoric about some special generation reveals him to be an NAR dominionist, but one with a postmodern twist. It's not the first time I've noticed the young NAR types sliding to the left, and it's not surprising, given that both the NAR and progressive theology are build on foundations of extra-biblical thought and whatever feels nice.

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