Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge- Review

The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge.

Relief.  Utter relief.

When I was given the opportunity to read and review this book, the title alone intrigued me.  I mean, who among us could not use a little relief from the things we struggle with.  And, what is this about holiness?  Does he mean that we, as human beings, can attain holiness?  Isn't that reserved for our sovereign God?


Eldridge has his own website for his personal publishing company Ransomed Heart.  There we find a short provocation that introduces the concept of the book.

It may seem strange at first because most folks don't think of holiness as an utter relief. Hard perhaps, boring if we're honest, necessary like flossing, a level of spirituality we might attain to one day. But a relief? Look at it this way: Take the things you struggle with and ask yourself, 'What would life be like if I never struggled with this again?' It would be an utter relief. An absolute utter relief.

Who can't relate to that?  Who can read that and think..."Nope, I don't have anything I struggle with that I would be relieved to get rid of"?  Then, Eldridge captivates us with a video where his ability to come to our imperfect human level clearly shines.  Here ya go....

I had never heard of Eldridge before and I have never read any of his books.  After receiving The Utter Relief of Holiness and getting about half way through it I started to do a little looksy loo around the internet to get a better scoop on this man.  Why?  Something wasn't quite right, yet something was just perfect.  Let me explain....

The first chapter was intriguing, thought provoking, and  hopeful.  When I got to page 16 and read "But when we focus on fixing problems, what seems to be missing is the transformation of our character" it was like a light bulb went off for me.  Bam!  Our problems are not what needs to be fixed, but rather our character, our self, our sense of truth, etc.  Now, this made sense to me.  I loved the clips of Bible stories he referred to, using every day language AND the word for word scriptures he used.  They were everywhere.

Then, I got to page 42/43 and my eyebrows raised.  Here, Eldredge writes "There is a way to be good again.  The hope of Christianity is that we get to live life like Jesus.  That beautiful goodness can be ours.  He can heal what has gone wrong deep inside each of us.  The way he does this is to give us his goodness; impart it to us, almost like a blood transfusion or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation..  We get to live his life - that is, live each day by the power of his life within us."

Say what?  Did you just write that we can be good like Jesus is good?  Romans 3:10 tells me otherwise.  We can live just like Jesus?  Are you suggesting that we can be as equal to Him or is that stretching it?  I'm not sure....hence, the eyebrow raise.  So, as I continued through the book I found myself on a roller coaster ride....one moment I was encouraged, believing, and trusting Eldridge's writing.  Then, I was finding myself saying...hmmmm, let me read that again.  I kept getting the feeling that Eldridge was trying to tell me that when scripture says to live a holy life (1Thessalonians 4:7) that it means that we are to live as Holy as our God.  How is that possible?  Yes, we must strive to be as Christ-like as possible, but no human can ever be as Christ, as Holy as Him, or without sin.  Yet, I kept getting the gist that Eldridge thought that was possible.  So, I had to learn a little more about him. 

Pout.  I was so sad at what I found.  Eldredge is known (widely) as a heretic.  At Challies, I found that Eldredge believes in open theism, he does not believe that our heart continues to be deceitfully wicked after salvation.  I found more evidence to validate my concerns, but I won't go any further with you here.  I would suggest doing your own research and decide for yourself.

I walked away from this book with some good things, too.  Eldridge helped me to see more clearly that I do not have to be in bondage by my struggles and the change needs to start within me.  My relationship with Christ needs to be stronger and more integrated into who I am.  My goal should always be to be Christ - like in all things.  I should look to Him for all examples.  But, can I attain true holiness?  Holiness like Christ?  No.  I can not.  Simply because God did not design us to be Him.  We are imperfect, sinful creatures and accepting Him into our heart and receiving His free gift of salvation does not change that.  It is my wicked and sinful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) that reminds me that I need his Grace and Forgiveness in my life daily.

I want to encourage my readers to be self-thinkers.  Read this book for yourself.  If you find a different view, then share it here!  Please!  You can buy it at the Ransomed Heart website for $13.99 (buy one get one free for a limited time) or at Amazon  for $10.98 for the hard cover or $8.89 for the Kindle edition.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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."