Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Plan B

Today, we're going to take a quick look at Pete Wilson's new book,  Plan B.  It's coming out today from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  And, of course, to warn you: I got the book free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for writing this review.  It's from their Booksneeze program and you can read more in Disclosures! if you need to.  Of course, I think the FTC (and any government agency) should be a little more concerned about real problems than whether or not a blogger with a small audience paid for the books he reviewed or got them free…moving on:

Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?

Review: Pete Wilson has written a good book here.  I don't think you'll see it go down in history as one of the great classics of Christian writing, but neither should it rapidly find the "please, just take this book away" pile.  It's written in an easy style, and the content is well grounded in Scripture.

What Wilson has done in this book is take a look at the various ways that our lives don't turn out the way we expect.  Whether it's failed marriages or lost jobs, tragic deaths or crippling accidents, there are few tragedies that are not addressed here.  Wilson then goes on to give Biblical examples of similar, and sometimes worse, situations.  These are given to highlight the fact that God has often not followed exactly the plan people have expected Him to follow. 

One of the things to like about this book is the inclusion of a study guide at the end of the book.  This helps with the idea of using the book as a group learning experience.  I'd recommend that.  First of all, it will help combat the syndrome in our churches that we expect our Plan A to always work out, when we should openly realize that it often won't.  Second, group study and group discussion of the ways God has worked through the Plan B, C, D, and on down will strengthen others.

I had a few dislikes in the book.  There's no way around this one, and that is: Pete Wilson is a pastor.  As a pastor, he knows people's life situations and confidential issues.  Some of these he shares anonymously, while others he apparently received permission to share with names and details.  I would prefer he stick with the stories that he has permission to share with details.  People's curiosity is often piqued by anonymous stories, and it costs you credibility to assure that while you can't say who it was, you know it happened.  It may seem like you lose your most powerful examples that way, but you keep the focus on the content, not the curiosity about the sources.

My other disagreement would come from some of Pastor Wilson's Bible passage choices, but those are open to interpretation.  It's not that he chooses bad Scripture, just that my understanding of the context, especially of direct application of Old Testament prophetic passages, is different from his. 

I don't hesitate to recommend this book at all. 4 stars out of 5.


Now, a new occasional feature of my book reviews

Beyond the review: While I mostly liked this book, and fully agree with Pastor Wilson's reasons for writing it, I wish this book wasn't necessary.  Essentially, this book is written to help us see past the fluff version of Christianity that many Americans have come to believe in.  And that's got to stop.  You have preachers being arrested in supposedly free European countries, preachers being executed in Communist dictatorships like China, Christians being slaughtered in Africa, and while I'm writing this review, Tom Ascol has tweeted that he heard from a brother in Christ that has had a price put on his head in his Muslim community.

Folks, it's time we grow up in the American branch of the church and realize that our American Dream planning and God's Kingdom are more and more exclusive of each other.  We're so wrapped up in ourselves that we can't see what we're supposed to be doing.  Our churches, myself as a pastor included, have got to teach what the Bible teaches, rather than making Christian faith into a "it's all going to be okay" self-help group.  Sure, it's all going to be okay.  At some point during the Millennial Reign of Christ or shortly there after in Eternity.  We've created a faith that lacks any form of substance that will truly sustain people.

And we've got to stop it. 

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