4 Stars Out Of 5
A good book that could have been great
February 3, 2014
This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute www.desertbibleinstitute.com.
This was the kind of book that I wanted to like more than I did. I firmly hold that science, looked at through the lens of scripture, shows how compatible the two topics really are. There are a number of good books out there that accomplish this; unfortunately, the lack of balance of this book makes the material both difficult to access and theologically questionable. Let me start by saying I really did like sections of the book and I am glad I read it. I liked how the author and I often came to many of the same conclusions, and I have even found myself quoting from the book. The author's style and structure however will keep me from recommending it to many people.
The first problem with the book is how the author presented the material. A majority of the book is made up of two genre-specific types of writing. The first genre made up of long socio-therapeutic sections that is more reminiscent of self-help than psychology or hard science. These sections often (though not always) come across as feel-good opinion rather than theologically supported positions. The second genre was a heavily technical writing filled with acronyms and medical terminology. While these two genres could be (and occasionally are) blended together effectively, the author seems to write them to the exclusion of each other. This leaves the reader with either a lot of Bible-based opinion or a technical manual. I am sure this second issue is exacerbated by the fact that this is an audio book rather than written text with appropriate charts and diagrams. If Dr. Jennings could re-structure his chapters into a blending of the two topics, this book would not only be more accessible, but also likely seem more applicable.
The second problem is the knowledge base and bias of the writer. Dr. Jennings is clearly highly knowledgeable in the field of neuropsychiatry. He flies through concepts of the structure of the brain and its effects on individual's psychological makeup and ultimately far-reaching sociological ramifications like a professional running back navigating the field for an 85 yard touchdown. Perhaps it is his extraordinary understanding of the science that makes his comparatively simplistic scriptural understanding seem a little lackluster. While Jennings clearly gives biblical support for his positions, his ideas obviously are not as adept in the theological field as they are in either the neurological or psychological fields.
Lastly, there is a lack of interconnectivity between to two topics making the work both disjointed and suspect. The juxtapositioning of expertise and passingly knowledgeable knowledge bases is perhaps the most jarring element of this book. It seems logical that if Jennings focused on neuropsychiatry and then used the Bible to support his positions he would seem more credible than he does treating these as two separate but related topics. I am left with the feeling that Jennings is trying to advance a theological position more that a scientific one. Since his expertise is medical and not doctrinal, this seems to be a bit of a red herring. I am reasonably sure this is not what the author intended, but without far more biblical and theological research to support his point, it is how it comes off.
Ultimately, I liked what Jennings had to say, and it is worth taking the time to read it. The problem is that his scientific skills far exceed his biblical or literary abilities. After a thorough restructuring and some careful theological research this could be one of the best scientifically based Christian books on the market. As it is, the book is fragmented and awkward for most readers. Sean Runnette's reading of this book did help. He seems to have some experience in using intonation and stress to help a reader through the technical language; however, this does not replace the other elements which causes the book to fall short of its full potential.
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson's blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
A copy of the book was generously offered to Dr. Nicholson by christianaudio.com in exchange for this unbiased review.