Mark Batterson is a Renaissance man. He employs science, art, sports, literature and travel to express his love for God. Though I am a bit jealous of his travelogue, Mark speaks to every reader somewhere. He has a knack for finding the holy in places most would not.
This Renaissance approach suits the premise of Primal well: Getting back to the core of the Christian faith. Many years of tradition and practice have obscured the heart of having a relationship with God. Batterson directs the readers focus to the core aspects that Jesus directed us to: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your mind and all of your strength. Most Christians simply don’t know how to do that.
Many Christians believe that love for God is demonstrated by obedience to God, which typically means the avoidance of sin. While Batterson does not contradict that thought, he does expand the idea to include using one’s whole being to worship God. Being created in the likeness of God, humans have a great capacity for logic and reason. This is essential in understanding God and his purposes, but logic is not the only tool in the toolbox, if you will. God has also given human beings emotions, creativity, curiosity and inventiveness. How does one worship God with these? Batterson clearly outlines from the examples of poets, artists, inventors and scientists the connection between their genius and their relationship with God.
Batterson carefully reframes some conventional Christian thinking. When believers approach a passage like “take captive every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5), the reader is challenged to consider the contrasts of the verse. The precautions associated with thinking pure thoughts rather than impure thoughts are expanded to not letting innovative and creative thoughts escape. The stewardship of one’s mind is not just eliminating impure thoughts, but capturing creativity. According to Batterson’s thoughts, God did not create human beings for a mundane, beige existence. God designed humans to be as vivid as the natural landscape around them. A relationship with God is not a constraint on one’s personhood, rather it allows the freedom to be who you were created to be.
“If we are going to reach our generation with the gospel, we can’t just appeal to logic. We’ve got to capture their imagination” (p. 113). Just as J.R. R. Tolkien challenged C.S. Lewis, “Your inability to understand stems from a failure of imagination on your part” (p. 112). As Batterson points out, C. S. Lewis not only found faith, but the great mind who wrote Mere Christianity also tapped into his right brain to create the Chronicles of Narnia. This multifaceted approach to God and to the good news opens up the door to many who are stuck intellectually as well as those who shun a logical approach.
Batterson in Primal does for worship what Becoming a Contagious Christian did for evangelism. By presenting the idea of a spiritual love language, the author validates those who approach God through creativity, curiosity and even sweat as worshipping just as appropriately as the intellectuals. Batterson’s emphasis on a genuine, practical faith demonstrates again that Christians only believe what they actually do.
Amo Dei, indeed.
The reviewer received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for a review.
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