I LOVE books. I own somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 or so. I'd own a lot more than that if they weren't so expensive and SO hard to move! I LOVE theology, commentaries, the Biblical languages and on and on. I LOVE a book with substance. Unfortunately that leaves out much of what is in the "Christian" market place. Most of the books out there today are anything but substantive. So much of the material pushed on the public today in the name of "Christ" is simply mindless, empty, drivel. I have shelves full of such books. Books I bought many years ago when I had a bit less discernment, wisdom, and just plain sense. Most of their authors meant well but in their attempt to be "relevant", they wind up being powerless and without merit.
Despite my aversion to books that are not clearly substantive, I decided to try something a bit different a while back. I picked out the book "Chazown" by Craig Groeschel. The unusual title and knowing a bit about the author, by reputation more than anything, I thought I'd give it a go. I get free books to review from time to time and thought I'd try something a bit out there for me. Sadly I should have stuck to my traditional fare.
First things first. The book is not in and of itself a bad book. The author writes well and his style lends itself to a pretty easy read. He comes across as genuine and with a strong pastoral style. That said, I was struggling out of the gate with a couple of key things. First is the incessant use of the word "Chazown" in the body of the work. Rather than introduce its readers to the word, its concept and meaning, and then moving on, the author uses the word endlessly! I found myself groaning, almost out loud every time the author threw the word at me. Can't we simply define the word and only use it when it is really necessary? It was tedious and needless in my opinion and really hurt the book.
My second and most significant issue with the book is the author's handling of the scripture from which the books title and thesis is taken. Groeschel fell into the all too common error we see today of taking a single scripture and trying to build a theology around it. I'm not saying the author intended this but unfortunately he's guilty of it. The verse as it is used in the author's thesis is taken completely out of context! What should have been seen as a simple verse about the consequences of not having God's vision for our lives, in the context of discipline, (ie the results of not having God's vision) is instead mutated into some grand calling to become a visionary! What??? This is in no way an accurate interpretation of the scripture! If I had a dollar for every time a new book comes out like this, I could retire and retire well!
Without belaboring the issue, Chazown is simply a book I could have and should have done without. It will sit on my shelf and collect dust like many books before it. Its not all bad but its not that good either. I'll chalk up this book selection to a momentary lapse of discernment.
At best this book gets 2 out of 5 stars. That just might be a stretch.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."