Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reclaiming Love--A Good But Not Fun Read

Reclaiming Love is a pastoral commentary on one chapter of the Bible--the over quoted, under-applied 1 Corinthians 13. Over quoted for weddings may be a better way to say it. The "Love chapter" goes far beyond our romantic and trite views of love. Fernando examines the contextual understanding of love. Specifically, he looks at what love truly is and how it plays out in all of our relationships in the midst of the struggles and hardships of everyday life. It is a thoughtful mix of scholarship and reflections gleaned from over 35 years in ministry, reminding readers that love is supreme and is worth the effort.

If I am being truly honest, I struggled to love this book. Was it solid exegetically, theologically, and practically? Absolutely. Was it full of stories and illustrations to help me remember his points? Yes. So, why the struggle? If I'm going to be honest, I guess I would say that I was somehow expecting more.  I was expecting to have my mind blown by esoteric insights and exegetical nuggets that would revive this well-worn passage. I was wanting something from this book that it was never meant to be. Perhaps my reaction to this book reveals how much I truly need its message.

When I saw that Ravi Zacharias had written a forward, I was immediately interested. When I saw that my very own theology professor Dr. Steve Seamans, as well as, respected scholar Dr. Craig Keener gave the book a good review, I was very excited to read it. As I read, however, I kept wondering what was so great about it. Fernando was hitting all the notes, so to speak, but he wasn't singing my tune. The song was a good song, but it was James Taylor when I was wanting Pink Floyd. Part of it might be that his particular cadence didn't grip me. Some writers suck you in, even while discussing the mundane ins and outs of life. Some writers carry you on by sheer virtue of the fact that they deliver keen insights, even if their style suffers from academic woodeness. The insights of the book rang true but not novel. How could so many men that I respect find this book insightful and encouraging while I plodded along out of a sense of duty?

The more I think about it the more I believe that I read this book looking for knowledge rather than help. Interestingly, the Corinthians also prioritized knowledge. Paul said that "knowledge puffs up; love builds up." Fernando is writing this book to build up rather than to puff up, so he focuses on encouragement and example. After finishing this book, I believe that I will reread it at some point in the future when I recognize my need for help loving. For instance, I would highly recommend this book to those who are struggling with unforgiveness, bitterness, and/or resentment. Solid material: 5 stars. Enjoyment factor: 3 stars. Averages out to 4 stars for me. May change this in the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> 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.”

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