UNTAMED How the Wild side of Jesus Frees Us to Live and Love with Abandon by Lisa Harper
It is so easy to be critical and find fault, so please bear with me with the point I wish to make concerning the Subtitle of the book, "Untamed." I will be the first to admit that I didn't choose the book "Untamed" by Lisa Harper when I first had the chance because it seemed too "disrespectful" to put a Holy God in man's expression for describing Jesus Christ as His actions toward us as "wildly."
Lisa Harper uses words to describe Jesus as Our Savior as: Wildly Redemptive, Wildly Unsettling, Wildly Devoted, Wildly Tough, Wildly Compelling, Wildly Pro-Women, Wildly Confident, Wildly Confrontational, Wildly Unconventional, Wildly Attentive, Wildly Faithful and Fearsome, and Wildly Liberating.
If the word "wildly" is taken away in describing Jesus, then what is left is very much holy and respectful.
So is there a problem in what Lisa Harper has written? Why does one word cause a "check in the spirit" when it comes to the book? The word wildly means a confused and reckless manner. Some synonyms for the word wildly are: amok, berserk, frantically and uncontrollably. Jesus never did anything without control or in a state of confusion, so wildly does not describe an action I believe He would have. This of course is my personal opinion which caused a check in my spirit.
Although I do not agree with the one word, "wildly" I do believe that Lisa Harper is a solid biblical teacher with the ability to use humor along with scripture to tell her testimony of how Jesus Christ helped her follow Him to conquer her past. Lisa is honest and is relatable of what living life as a Christian is about.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press.
In Untamed, the reader joins author Lisa Harper on a journey through the Gospels, stopping along the way to witness the encounters Jesus had with people. Lisa's insights and commentaries allow the reader to experience life-changing moments with the Savior. She tells the stories as if the present day reader is actually there in the moment with Jesus on His one on one appointment or in His meetings with the multitudes. Though at times she deals with the content casually and flippantly for this reader's comfort, she presents a Jesus who is both loving and kind and who desires nothing less than what is best for those who are brave enough to follow Him. The study and discussion questions throughout each chapter are thought provoking and challenging. Those who read the book is its entirety will love Jesus, the wonderful Savior, more when the final page is turned than she did when she first cracked its cover. This is a good read.
*Untamed* by Lisa Harper is a book full of conviction wrapped in a package of humor and Biblical stories. Harper takes stories about Jesus that we are all familiar with, and finds a nugget of truth from them that reaches down to your core and makes you want to be a better follower of Christ. I was amazed as I read every chapter to find something new from stories I have read and studied my whole life. I came face to face with my Savior who has been in a box safety tucked away in my closet, and now I want to let him out and let him change my life from the inside out. He is unconventional, devoted, redemptive and loves me for all I am, not because of what I have done or not done.
There are questions at the end of each chapter that would make it a great book for a group study, but I got so much out of it without doing the questions. I can't wait to find more books by Harper. She does take the Biblical stories and add funny descriptions to make them more relevant, but I don't think its too far to make it irreverent. The parts of the stories that she brings out that were new to me were mostly based on further Greek translations that I wouldn't have known on my own. I liked it!
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press.
I've never been more disappointed by a book than "Untamed" by Lisa Harper.
Seeing the purpose of the book is easy because it's in the subtitle -- often our "squashed caricature" (p. 9) of Jesus reveals that we don't know (or have forgotten) who our Savior really is, which makes it impossible to worship Him appropriately. This is acutely true, and a great message! Unfortunately, the message is lost amidst the vast artistic license Harper takes with scenes from Scripture. An example:
"As soon as she and Joseph got to the edge of the Holy City, she pulled Jesus' middle school picture -- the one that showed His cowlick and braces -- out of her wallet . . . She and Joseph anxiously knocked on doors, retraced their steps, and put fliers on windshields." (p. 28)
Um, no. Honestly, I am embarrassed to have typed those words, and I think Harper should be, too. As one who values the Truth of God's Word, it's a personal preference of mine that authors do NOT take such liberties. I understand that Harper is trying to make the text "relevant" (a dangerous word, in my book), but isn't Scripture -- as it was written by the Spirit of God -- ALWAYS relevant to everyone? It is clear this book is meant to entertain, which leads me to believe that the book was written with man in mind more so than the Lord.
Last time I checked, it's not about man.
Beyond a reasonable doubt, this book is targeted toward women -- and probably younger ones (think the millennial generation). While Harper is a fantastic storyteller, I found that I was laughing so hard I missed the point of the story! The stories in God's Word don't need embellishment or tweaking or improvement. It will never return empty and will accomplish its purposes (Is. 55:10-11). I say we don't mess with it.
A few other things:
Harper quotes most Scripture from the following versions: New Living Translation, New Century Version, The Message, New International Version. These are all thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalency) translations, with The Message being a paraphrase. As I'm sure you can guess from what's written above, I think using formal equivalency references would have improved the book's quality (although there are a few English Standard quotations sprinkled throughout the book), but I'm not surprised at the use of dynamic translations.
I'll only mention one, but there were numerous instances of poor (or just plain wrong) theology:
Regarding Jesus teaching in the temple: "This brow-raising event was one of the first tangible clues that the Alpha and Omega had graciously distilled His omniscience into His Son" (p. 29).
First, this implies that Jesus was only omniscient because the Father gave omniscience to Him, which place Jesus on a plane unequal to the Father. However, John tells us that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-2). The Son is equal to the Father in all attributes belonging to God. This contradiction could lead a new believer to misunderstand the relationship between the Father and the Son and/or the deity of Christ, both of which are crucial tenets of the Christian faith.
The icing on the cake is the soft undercurrent of feminism that weaves through the middle section of the book. This is the world's idea, not God's, and I was disappointed to see it in this book.
In my opinion, "Untamed" represents the worst of the "seeker-sensitive" movement. I don't recommend it to anyone, but especially not to new believers or believers who are returning anew to their walk with the Lord.
In exchange for my honest opinion, I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Press.
I have to say that I was excited to receive a copy of "Untamed" by Lisa Harper. It has 211 pages, consisting of 12 chapters. At the beginning of every chapter, it will state "Our Savior is....". I love how it says for example, "Our Savior is Wildly Compelling" and then underneath of it, it will have a quote. Under this one, it's by Charles Spurgeon and says: "His character enchants, subdues, overwhelms--and with the irresistible impluse of its own sacred attraction it draws your spirit right up to Him." Wow! It will also have sniplets throughout the chapters --The Wild Ways of God-- such as: "The fact that Jesus chose exactly twelve disciples is likely a New Testament nod to the twelve tribes and twelve patriarchs of ancient Israel." At the end of every chapter, there's a section that will say: "We need an untamed Savior because....only a wildly compelling Jesus frees our hearts to race toward Him when He calls." I love this and they're different for each section. Underneath that, it'll have --Living and Loving with Abandon-- and will have questions that you can answer either by yourself or with a Bible study group. This is a wonderful book that I cherish.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.