Created For Influence: Transforming The Culture From Where You Are, by William L. Ford III
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Chosen Books in exchange for an honest book review.]
Rarely do I read a book that has the qualities of this one, a book that is both close in subject matter and interest to me, and yet far away in terms of intended audience . At its heart, this is a book that seeks to encourage its readers to become prayer warriors focused on dramatic and miraculous intercession from God that is directed towards redeeming the present corrupt culture into a stronghold of His kingdom. This book is written by a fellow I have never heard of, who is a disciple of another fellow named Dutch Sheets who I have also never heard of (who is mentioned often in this book and who wrote the forward), and it contains a lot of references to various movements within the black church like the “Seven Mountains” teaching that I have also never heard of.
Nevertheless, the point of the book is plain. This author is, commendably, blunt-spoken and honest both in his appropriation of biblical stories to support his position of active engagement of believers with the world in such a way that shows a model of our behavior as citizens of the Kingdom as a means of counting the activity of the evil one and his followers. This book is strong against the occult, ferocious against abortion and homosexuality (especially incensed at the way that civil rights anthems have been perverted to support the gay rights agenda and the way that abortion has decimated the African American community demographically), and hostile as well to the cult of celebrity that often is a substitute for a godly and righteous generation among the community of traditional Christianity.
This particular book is organized in a distinctive way, with thematic chapters that ramble on but tend to focus on the subject of influence (with a focus on the spiritual world and its repercussions for life on the earthly plane) and a small set of mostly familiar biblical figures but some that are not as well known to many (like that of Ahithophel the grandfather of Bathsheba and counselor to rebellious Absalom). Many of the chapter titles and contents contain notable puns and metaphors between earthly artifacts and spiritual matters: “In The Grip Of Heaven,” “Cosmic Traffic Cops,” “Under The Influence,” “Rhyme, Reason, and the Substance of Faith,” “The Anointing And The Fragrant Life,” “Kingdom Influence In The Marketplace,” “Thermostats Or Thermometers,” “Influence And Our Offspring,” “The Shepherd’s Air Force,” “Jesus And The Marketplace,” and “Reclaiming The Seven Mountains And The Threshing Floor.” Perhaps the most memorable of many excellent examples of wordplay is the way in which the author attempts to confuse the reader after constantly repeating “folk” into saying “egg yolk” instead of “egg white,” which in turn demonstrates the way that we can be influenced by those around us unless someone is strong in giving the right answer. The power of faithful people who are solid in faith and knowledge against the deceptions of Satan is something that this book talks about often, and well.
Among the more distinctive, and somewhat off-putting, qualities of this particular book is the way that this book continually deals with a mystical aspect of faith. The author, over and over again, passionately talks about mysterious dreams and “confirmations” in the most bizarre way imaginable, in wordplay and obscure extrapolating of meaning from ambiguous symbols. Many times these supposed confirmations show an extremely shallow grasp of biblical law and practice, even as the author appears to pride himself as a teacher of God’s ways to others and knowledgeable in the culture and traditions of the contemporary world as well as the Bible. Given the author’s apparent knowledge, for example, of the role of the occult in the counterculture of the 1960’s, as well as Jewish traditions about funeral processions and the right of priority when two processions collided in a Jewish town, the massive and basic gaps of biblical knowledge that the author shows are mystifying. For example, the author does not appear to recognize that the biblical calendar and the Roman calendar are not the same (which leads the author to tie biblical verses to Gregorian dates, and to think that the book of Esther was set in December because it was the twelfth month), which also leads the writer to celebrate the family friendly nature of the Rose Bowl parade, even though New Year’s Day is itself a heathen observance.
In large, part, this massive biblical ignorance (which stands in stark contrast to the author’s seemingly encyclopedic knowledge about our corrupt culture as well as obscure movements in the black church that resemble Dominion theology, apart from the interest in God’s law) can be explained by the author’s antinomian leanings (apart from a clear focus on purity and social justice, both of which are admirable and biblical ideals that are a part of the biblical corpus of law). Likewise, the author appears untroubled by the tension between his desire to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and that same man’s serious flaws of character that made him more like a celebrity Christian than a true example of how to live God’s ways . When this book is good, it is very good, but when it is bad, it is very bad. As a result, one can say about this book and its author that they have a zeal, but not according to knowledge. Even as the lack of knowledge this book demonstrates is worthy of comment, the book is not without value, especially as a passionate appeal for prayer and for a life that shows Christian conduct and involvement in all walks of life. This appeal is of worth even for those readers who lack an intimate knowledge of the black church, an interest in this book’s many mystical elements, and are a bit disappointed by the author’s astonishing lack of interest in fundamental aspects of God’s ways (like the difference between Judah and Israel and between holidays and Holy Days). At the very least, this book is passionate, honest, and almost embarrassingly open (especially about an abortion he urged upon a girlfriend in his youth, and the regrets he had about it), and in my book, that counts as being worthy of considerable praise and a fair amount of tolerance for its faults, assuming that the author wishes to improve upon them.
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