Book Review: Never Settle for Normal

Philip Lau

4 Stars

July 12, 2017

In Never Settle for Normal, Jonathan Parnell hopes to help readers find the answer to the deep longings in their hearts for joy, happiness, and glory. Parnell argues that in our contemporary culture, many of us often settle for a laid-back, normal life without considering how our lives are destined to be much more meaningful and glorious. The author argues that every human being is in search for something to fill the emptiness in their hearts. Parnell outlines the story of creation, fall, and redemption as found in Scripture to establish how we can find true satisfaction and pure joy in Christ alone. In the beginning, God made humans to be His vice-regents to image Him and rule the world thereby spreading His glory to the ends of the earth. However, Adam and Eve sinned against God and the destructive effects of the Fall has fractured our lives even till today. Nevertheless, in His grace, God has sent His Son as the substitutionary sacrifice who takes on our sins and redeems us from the grips of sin, Satan, and death.  Those who put their faith in Christ receive the Holy Spirit who applies Christ’s benefits to us forever and allows us to experience joy, peace, and comfort now and in eternity. Assuming the author is writing to evangelize to non-believers, the strength of the book lies in the engaging, story-telling style that the author uses to evoke the affections of the reader. However, a weakness that I identify in using this book as an apologetic tool is that the arguments presented is based on the presupposition that Christianity is true so those who do not hold the same belief may not feel sufficiently persuaded to reach the same conclusions in such a short book. On the other hand, for Christian readers, there are many helpful points and analogies that can be adopted and utilized when sharing the gospel to non-believers. I especially appreciate the epilogue in which the author emphasizes two essential elements of being found in Christ namely obedience to His commands and participation in the local church.

I would recommend this book as an useful resource to provide a quick overview of the Christian answer to the meaning of life.  Parnell uses an unobtrusive writing style along with simple language that allows those unfamiliar with Christianity to follow easily. However, the book does assume its readers have some basic knowledge of the Bible so it would be best to be read together with a Christian friend or with an open Bible. Parnell urges those who are apathetic in life to shake off their indifference and realize the wondrous joy and glory available to all those who are united with Christ. Those who are already found in Jesus should be careful not to fall into sloth or complacency and realize that beholding the glories and excellencies of Christ is an unceasing act of worship that continues even in eternity.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from The Crown Publishing Group in exchange for a book review.