2 Stars Out Of 5
Not for everyone
February 4, 2015
Before purchasing this book, I came across a review by a reader "turned off" by the author's insistence that anxiety is a sin. Taking that with "a grain of salt" I purchased the book regardless. After reading the book's introduction (and selections throughout the rest of the book), I was disappointed how heavy-handed the author is in this assertion.
Can anxiety be viewed as a sin that can be dramatically improved by a deeper trust in God? I believe one can find a biblical basis for this argument, thus my interest in this book despite that negative (but honest) review. However, people with anxiety disorders often have physiologic and/or anatomic changes in their brains as well, much as those with, if you will allow, with all due respect, Parkinson's disease, a stroke or a brain tumor do. Anxiety disorders do not reside merely in the soul or spirit but (also) in the body. Furthermore, anxiety disorders often arise from a dysregulation in determining (i.e. overvaluation of) what concern is worth one's attention rather than a prideful resistance to trust. In the case of obsessive compulsive disorder, the individual is often trying to be responsible and do the right thing, often out of concern for others. At its source, it is an error in judgment rather than willful disobedience. I doubt those afflicted with anxiety would consider worrying a "favorite pastime" as the author suggests it is. To further criticize without compassion someone with an anxiety disorder may exacerbate the condition.
The author emphasizes that the "Lord Jesus Christ, through His divine power, 'has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence' (2 Peter 1:3)." Would he also insist that if the individual with the brain tumor truly believed in and trusted the Lord, he would be granted a cure? (Again, I don't mean to minimize that individual's condition, but neither should we minimize someone's anxiety.)
The author contends that most books put out by "evangelical publishing houses" are "superficial," "formulaic," and "anecdotal," but then proceeds to cite his own anecdote, reveal his lack of deep understanding of anxiety disorders (as one example, contrary to what he seems to suggest, panic attacks are usually characterized by physiologic symptoms that appear out of the blue, without a specific cognitive worry aside from the anxiety about having a panic attack), and present his own formula for treatment.
I usually do not write reviews as I'm not sure I have anything important to add beyond what others have already written. In this case, I felt compelled to offer my input because I probably AGREE with most of the author's assertions. However, I'm concerned (worried?) that unless the reader is already totally on-board (in which case the book has limited value), the reader could understandably be "turned-off" and not only not benefit from the potentially and powerfully helpful and valid points but also turn away from a gospel that offers grace and truth, simply because the book, at least in my opinion, doesn't offer enough of both. In a way, I hope I'm wrong, of course, and that this book is helpful to those who would truly benefit from God's power, love and mercy. (I would also not be willing to offer this review as any more than one person's initial viewpoint, not publishable in a more formal format without more in depth study, contemplation and understanding.)
The author is troubled by "the disdainful attitude that Scripture, apart from modern psychology, is inadequate for dealing with anxiety and life's other woes." He seems to believe the polar opposite. I suggest that both can be helpful (with the evidence being less well studied and more anecdotal in the case of Scriptures than modern psychology).
(For a more balanced approach, check out Ian Osborn's works, although they deal primarily with OCD. Also, if you do read this book, consider skipping the Introduction so the author's bias might not detract as much from the rest of his message. It's hard to overlook, thus my failure to finish the book despite repeated attempts.)