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Monday, April 18, 2011

[Book Review] "Max on Life" by Max Lucado

Note: This book was free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.


This is the first non-children's Max Lucado book I have read. I've seen the Hermie movies, read the Punchinello books, and have seen The Christmas Child, but have never read one of the regular Lucado books. With that being said, I was quite impressed. This is Lucado as a pastor and Bible teacher, but mostly in a pastor role as he answers people's questions that have been submitted to him over the years. This is one of those books that you might wish every pastor to write and publish at some point just because it gets to the point. It really is an excellent book, despite some minor disagreements with some of his answers, but I'll explain those in a moment. Let us look at the topics covered, then a few sample questions, and where I may have a few disagreements.

Topics:

  1. Hope: God, Grace, and "Why am I here?"
  2. Hurt: Conflicts, Calamities, and "Why me?"
  3. Help: Prayer, Scripture, and "Why church?"
  4. Him/Her: Sex, Romance, and "Any chance of a second chance?"
  5. Home: Diapers, Disagreements, and "Any hope for prodigals?"
  6. Haves/Have-Nots: Work, Money, and "Where's the lifeline?"
  7. Hereafter: Cemetaries, Heaven, Hell, and "Who goes where?"
  8. Addendum: The Write Stuff (note: this addendum is advice to aspiring writers
I did not have much problem with his answers to most of the questions in the above categories theologically. They are all one-page, sometimes two-page questions and answers, 172 of them to be exact. In fact, there's a lot that is helpful. On page 29 on prayer, he says, "If he [God] says no to our requests, it is because his glory matters more than our preferences." On page 113 on worship, he says, "The essence of worship is simply this: giving God the honor he deserves. To worship is to applaud the greatness of God." With all the hoopla about the eternality of Hell these days, Lucado says on page 226, "Much perishes in hell. Hope perishes. Happiness perishes. But the body and soul of the God-deniers dwell forever there."

I do wish that there could be more elaboration on some of what Lucado has said in some of the answers. At other times, I felt he was being a bit dodgy on his answers or a bit too careful. For example, for elaboration, I would like a clarification on where he stands on abortion. On page 62, he says, "Other than cases where abortion saves the life of the mother, we must protect the child." Obviously, he is pro-life, except in one particular case. But what exactly is that case? I do know that such cases would include the egg being implanted outside the womb. I know someone that this happened to, and they almost died. Excuses for abortion by the pro-abortion crowd are wide, and they could just as easily seize on this.

On prayer changing the mind of God, he writes on pages 77-78 about a story where his daughter was persistent in something that changed his mind and that we can change the mind of God. He uses the example of Moses pleading to God to not destroy the people and God "changes his mind" in Exodus 32:14. Yet, the Hebrew word used in that passage is the same word for repenting and has different connotations elsewhere in scripture. Taken at face value, particularly in the English, one might see God changing his mind. In Numbers 23:19, we see that God is not a man, that he should repent. Comfort is used in Genesis 5:29. So, does God change his mind or not? Yes, but only according to his will. Look above at what I quoted from Lucado on page 29.

With regards to election, he writes on pages 220-221, that both God and man do the choosing to get to heaven (my summary). How does that work? God chooses those who have accepted Christ as Savior. While that is true, it is rather simplistic and Lucado uses John 3:16 as one proof text of this as well as 2 Peter 3:9. In other instances, Lucado simply puts most burden on man for choosing to be saved. There is also the instance where he is asked about what happens to those who have never heard on pages 222-223. While I believe that there will be people from every people group in heaven as Revelation 7:9 entails, I don't think Lucado's answer satisfies how they will be there. In short, he offers up a form of universalism in his answer in saying that people will believe in a Savior they have not yet met. Granted, all people are without excuse according to Romans 1, due to God's invisible attributes being seen in all of creation, yet faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. How shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-17)

Overall, I think this book is an excellent resource for anyone, particularly the young in the faith Christian who may have questions still about their faith. It's not a book to grow your faith. It's too simplistic for that. It's not a book to draw deep theological truths from, though there a few. It will encourage you, at times, however. For more theological stuff, I'd recommend, John Piper, D. A. Carson, R. C. Sproul, Tim Keller, or Jerry Bridges. For Systematic Theology, there's Wayne Grudem.  If you read this book, enjoy it, but as with most books written by men, compare it to scripture and know what you believe from scripture, not based on the doctrines of man.