Book Review: Wild Goose Chase

A while back Adam sent me a free copy of Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson.  Since Adam thought the book important enough to give away, I though I would respect that and write a review it for you all.  I just finished it last night so I'll review it while it's fresh on my mind

I'll start by saying that I've never heard of Mark Batterson before I got this book in the mail.  He is the pastor of National Community Church and he also wrote In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

The thesis of Wild Goose Chase is that Christians (in the West, I assume) are not followers of the Holy Spirit, but rather we have told the Spirit to follow us. Therefore, we are bored in our Christianity. He then suggests six “cages” that limit, and keep Christians from following the Holy Spirit. The cages are responsibility, routine, assumptions, guilt failure and fear. The balance of the book is discussions of each cage, why it limits, and how to escape from the cage so that we feel free to be fully devoted followers of Christ.

About the title - the best way to explain that is just to quote from the first paragraph of the book:

The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They called him An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’… The name hints at the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, and an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound sacrilegious at first earshot, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit’s leading through life than Wild Goose chase.

That’s the explanation, and throughout the balance of the book I don’t think he ever refers to the Holy Spirit again – only the Wild Goose. For me it was quite distracting. I believe with the explanation over, he defined his title and could simply call the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit.

As far as the content of the book I would describe it as good. (How's that for vocabulary skills) For me it was nothing revolutionary but I believe he is on to a lot of truth and has probably rightly diagnosed the major woes of Western Christianity. I particularly agreed with the following quote from the chapter on the cage of routine. “If you’re in a spiritual slump, let me give you a prescription: Go on a mission trip. There is no better or sure way of coming out of the cage of routine.” (pg.50)

I was also very intrigued by his thoughts of vision as a cure for sin. He puts it this way.  "The way you stop sinning is by getting a God-sized vision that consumes all your time and energy." (pg 160-1)

I wrote approximately 10 notes throughout the margins of the book. (I do that to interact with the book.) Most of the notes were agreement or that I found a point interesting. That’s about once every 18 pages. Quite a lot less than I interacted with say Simple Church, but more than I often write.

If you find yourself bored in your Christianity or if you believe that you are particularly trapped in one of the cages I would recommend this book. It is easy to read, probably about a 3 hour book, clear and interesting.  It would be worth your time.

Legislating Morality pt.2

Yesterday I began answering the question of whether we can allow Christian beliefs to affect the laws of our nation.  The conclusion reached was that somebody's morals are going to affect all our laws, and there is no grounds for Christian morals to be excluded.

Now we come to the second part of this discussion, and the more difficult question - Where does morality come from? I hope that all the readers of this blog will agree that morality MUST come from somewhere outside of mere democracy. If mere democracy determined morality, then chattel slavery was morally correct. Also I hope that we can agree that morality has to have a non-human source. If morality is based in humanity, then whose morality matters more?   The ones who are powerful enough to whip everybody else, of course. Power to control others or to set laws does not make moral authority.  (Think about it, if morality was people-based, then it was perfectly moral for Hitler to murder Jews in WWII Germany, it only became wrong after we were able to impose our morality on them by winning a war. How dare we do that.)  Power to control peoples’ minds or control how they look at the world also does not grant moral authority. If so, then the artists and entertainers of the world would set morality, and all it takes is a look at a museum to see that the tastes and opinions of artists change like the weather.

If it is non-human in origin, then we are only left with only two possibilities of where morality comes from. It is either from God, or inherent in a godless nature. I find the second possibility to be completely indefensible. This is no new thought, but it is simple. If there is no God, there is no morality. Ivan, in The Brothers Karamazov, had this one right a long time ago. Scott Adams’s view that we are only moist robots comes from this same thought. I can see no logical way out of this conclusion, therefore leaving us with only one possibility...

Morality comes from God

We are now down to only one issue. I first was introduced to it when I read Plato’s The Death of Socrates in my philosophy of law class as a political science student.  It is known as Euthyphro's Dilemma, and it is presented with this question - is an action moral because God says so, or does God say so because it is moral?  (In Socrates’ original question gods was plural, of course.) in other words, is he law above God or is God above the law?  I am not going to get in to a full discussion of this dilemma but if you want to read an excellent summary, go here.

In short, the answer is, neither. An action is moral because of who God is. The law is not over God, nor is it subject to the whim of God.  God always acts in a way consistent with His character, therefore the law, (morality) emanates from who God is. It is not subject to change because He is not subject to change.

So if I can address the original question. It is not a violation of church & state to allow biblical morality to color the law, any more than it is a violation of physics to allow gravity to effect the design of an airplane. The fact is, biblical morality is true morality whether anyone believes it or not. My pastor often says right is right if nobody does it, and wrong is wrong if everybody does it.  SOMEBODY'S morality is going to affect every law. Let's hope that it is true morality.

I truly hope these posts were not too convoluted or unclear.  Feel free to coment.

Best Web Junk (May 30)

I know this post is a couple of days early.  I'm in the basement til Saturday.  So enjoy the best of the web this week, and I'll post about my adventures on Monday. How Google really places map markers - via Digg

Find the Lizard - Here's the answer key - via Digg I wasn't sure it was there at first. But it is. And once you cheat, you can find it right away

Bacon Salt "Because everything should taste like bacon" - via @hangry

This video makes me certain that there is a God.