Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life
Well intended but not well written
Chasing Elephants discusses Christian principles determining the grey areas of life. It first sets out an understanding for freedom in Christ. Then, it gives some framework on Christian decision-making. After which, it applies these principles to some controversial areas in life, specifically homosexuality, the cyber world (Facebook, etc.), social drinking, entertainment (movies, etc.), and humanitarian efforts.
Many of my Christian friends are motivated to use the Bible to guide their decision-making but are not equipped to do so. This book certainly helps them with some ideas to create a multi-layered structured reasoning process. The specific topics chosen are certainly relevant, and useful.
However, this book takes a little while to read. Not because it is long (less than 180 pages), but because it is rather long-winded. I typically finish books within a day or maybe two. But for this book, I would read a few pages, then set it aside for weeks, and pick it up again, and repeated this cycle for a number of times.
Nonetheless, this book is well-intended. If friends ask me for Christian principles for making decisions, I will refer to this book to get some ideas and repackage the answer myself.
I received this book for free from NavPress in exchange for my unbiased review.
April 10, 2011
This book has very relevant application
The subtitle of this books sums up what the book is about: wrestling with the gray areas of life. Crowe holds an M.Div in evangelism and an MA in ethics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He serves as the vice president of Student Leadership University.
It is quite evident from the onset of this book that Crowe has thought through the issues he writes about quite extensively. Crowe seeks to biblically address issues that evangelicals regularly face but many evangelical leaders are unwilling to directly confront. He refers to these issues as Ã¢ÂÂelephants.Ã¢ÂÂ They are major issues which often contain gray areas that Scripture may not directly address.
Crowe biblically pointed out how we as Christians are Ã¢ÂÂfree.Ã¢ÂÂ Before he sought to address the issues he did, he did a careful exposition of pertinent texts dealing with Christian liberty such as 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Rom. 14:1-15:13; 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1 and Gal. 5. I thought that his exposition was for the most part very solid and he went back to the original languages and made use of the original language tools. Before solid application can be made, a solid and exegetical framework must be first laid out and Crowe accomplished that. He correctly and biblically pointed out how we as Christians are Ã¢ÂÂin ChristÃ¢ÂÂ and as such we have been set free by Christ.
Crowe then went on to address numerous Ã¢ÂÂelephantsÃ¢ÂÂ that are what we might call Ã¢ÂÂhot buttonÃ¢ÂÂ issues in evangelicalism. They were homosexuality, the cyber world, social drinking, entertainment, and humanitarian efforts. His application was appropriate and contemporary and he had excellent illustrations and examples and argued for his points very well.
I thought the strength of his book was a solid exposition of the pertinent texts dealing with Christian liberty and the appropriate application of modern day issues. I also liked how much Crowe dealt with the topic of grace. Grace-oriented believers are going to especially appreciate his treatment and numerous references to the doctrine and theme of grace as it correlates to the issue of Christian liberty. Crowe seeks to avoid a legalistic approach to Christian living and urges his readers to do the same.
My only criticism to this book is the authorÃ¢ÂÂs defining of the gospel. I thought that how he defined what God requires of the lost sinner in order to be saved was fuzzy. In the book, he clearly blurs the distinction of what God requires and calls for in discipleship with salvation. Crowe indicated that in order to be saved a man must turn from his sins and follow Jesus in obedience in order to be saved. I felt that the clear message of the gospel was absent from this book. At the same time, I did not feel it detracted from the premise and synopsis of the book as his comments on that subject were small.
I commend the author and book for appropriately and intelligently applying the texts with modern day and relevant scenarios. I enjoyed reading this book.
January 10, 2011
I had the opportunity to read "Chasing Elephants, Wrestling With The Gray Areas Of Life," by Brent Crowe courtesy of Navpress Publishers as part of their blogger review program. The opinions express are my own in accordance with the FTC guidlines. This book pleasantly suprised me overall, however, the first 4 chapters of the book were a bit slow. The first several chapters were to help one better understand how and why the "questions to deal with the gray areas" came about. I personally think that these could have been omitted and the book would have had the same relevance as with them. Chapter 5 included the "list of questions" that would later help form your own opinion about the "gray areas". This is a comprehensive list with questions like:"will this decision addict or enslave," "is this decision made in the attitude of Christ," and "will this decision have a positive spiritual impact on self." The next chapters were the addressed areas-such as 1. Homosexuality 2.The Cyber World 3. Social Drinking 4. Entertainment and 5. Humanitarian Efforts.
Brent Crowe addressed each of theses touchy subjects with grace and knowledge that made me "like him." I didn't agree with all of his ideas but I did find that my views were a bit changed on ideas once previously thought, due to asking myself the listed questions and how they relate to these areas. This book is great for someone who wants to formulate their own opinions from a biblical basis rather than believe stricly based on what their church or parents may believe.
Great book Mr. Crowe-I look forward to your gracious and humble writing in the future!
January 10, 2011
intersting and thought provoking
Perhaps an unusual title, but one that would make you look further into it. Ã¢ÂÂChasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of LifeÃ¢ÂÂ is challenging and thought provoking. It sets out to provide biblical principles for wise decision-making in a day when real wisdom, common sense and guidance seems scarce. Whilst specifically addressing how people should act when confronting the areas of Homosexuality, Social Drinking, Social Networking, Entertainment and Humanitarian Aid, the principles set out have a wider application in provoking how we should view others, our community, our environment and the way we interact with others.
While I cannot say that I agree with everything that the author writes as a view, I would contend that the argument and principles are plainly evidenced by biblical texts and the illustrations are very appropriate, sometimes personal and surprisingly varied and current. For bible study groups, it should opening up questions that many people have and have never had reasonably explained.
The writer, Brent Crowe has an academic background in ethics and in evangelism and this transfers strongly into his writing. Ã¢ÂÂChasing ElephantsÃ¢ÂÂ is a hugely enjoyable read and I have found valuable lessons in this book that can be taken elsewhere. This is the kind of book that people need today with the kind of honesty, candour and currency that readers can gain answers from or at least have as a discussion starter with others.
A book that I would recommend highly, it is also not a book that should be approached lightly. The first half of the book looks at guidance, principles of decision making, responsibility and freedom against real life scenarios, while the second half of the book looks at the gray areas of life mentioned above. It is a fascinating read and I will encourage others to read it keenly.
December 23, 2010