It took me a very long time to get through this book. Not because of any complexity in language or subject, but because some portions of it made me uncomfortable. And that’s a compliment to the book.
I felt like I was back in Situational Ethics, my freshman year in college. I was forced to confront my reasons for the choices and decisions I make as a Christian. I found myself questioning the boundaries of my Christian lifestyle that have been erected by my church, my community, my family and myself. A conservative, third-generation Seventh-day Adventist, I have a lot of these boundaries–restrictions on lifestyle, diet, entertainment. I even have some that are self-inflicted.
So when Crowe compared boundaries in the Christian life with the plastic covers on electrical outlets, I squirmed a little, and began to question my Christian lifestyle. Do the restrictions of my conservative Adventist culture define who I am as Christian? Or are these boundaries merely curbs that enclose me in a community of faith, of like-minded people who support me in my spiritual growth? Do I live the Adventist lifestyle because my church expects me to or because it is my personal decision made with the freedom I have to choose? And if boundaries are indeed comparable to the plastic protectors on electrical outlets, are they not as pertinent after a certain point in my spiritual growth?
So, yes, the book was a difficult read for someone like me who has lived by the book and its rules. To question the why behind the things I do, to dilly dally in the greys of Christian lifestyle is not my favorite pastime. Yet, the book was good for me. After all the probing and questioning, I was glad that it solidified my belief system.
While Crowe’s thoughts about and interpretation of some biblical passages differ from mine, I appreciate the basic principles he lays out that help the reader choose for himself a biblical approach to sticky situations and grey areas. Without forcing his theology on you, he helps you find the solution.
Did the book make a difference in my life? No, it didn’t. It was more like a visit to the doctor’s office for an annual exam–you think you’re doing okay, but you’re not sure until the results are in. Reading the book was an exercise in re-examining who I am, and I was satisfied with the result. That however would not have been the case had I read this book 20 years ago.
Where were you, Brent Crowe, when I was younger chasing elephants by the herds?
(I received this book free from NavPress. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)