Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fully Alive - a Review

Irenaeus, an early church father, once famously wrote, "The glory of God is a human being made fully alive." Let me reshape that thought a bit, and re-state it as the question that incited me to write this book:
What does it mean to be fully alive as a male or female for the glory of God?
Dr. Crabb says that being fully alive has to do with relating to others, showing something about God by how you relate as a man or a woman. He uses his background as a Christian, psychologist, counselor, and husband, to write a scripturally-dependent, psychology-flavored study of gender uniqueness.
The first section of this thought-provoking book touches on what discovering masculinity and femininity. The rest of the book focuses on identifying core terrors that prevent us from relating as men and women, identifying relational sin, and becoming fully alive as men and women, especially in our relationships.
Maybe it's because it's a big book with small print. Maybe it's because Dr. Crabb talks like a psychologist and I sometimes couldn't quite get what he was saying. But however it is, I have mixed feelings about Fully Alive. I did appreciate his study of the biblical roots of masculinity and femininity, as well as his insights into the core terrors of men and women, and especially the very helpful two chapters on submission. I'm not sure about the rest. Being fully alive is all and only all about relating to others as a man or a woman? Dr. Crabb has good points, but sometimes it seems like all he thinks matters about the Christian life is relating to other people as a fully alive man or woman. And it irked me when he subtly put down traditional Christian views on manhood and womanhood. Not because his book disagrees with them (it doesn't) but because he wants to promote his view as better, more liberating or something. Even though it all comes down to the same stuff. And never, ever, bad-mouth your parents in the prologue of your book. It just isn't done. Please.
So what do I think of Fully Alive? It's a thought-provoking book with some very insightful sections and some not-quite-so-comprehensible ones. It has very helpful thoughts on how to relate as men and women, and, while it isn't technically a marriage manual, I think it would be most helpful for married couples who want to go deeper in understanding and relating to each other. It's not as easy a read as many other books of its kind, but it can be worth it.
Disclosure: Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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