Look And Live: Behold The Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ, by Matt Papa
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.]
When I requested this book, I expected a somewhat different kind of book than the one I got. To be sure, this book does discuss, at some length, the need we have to focus on God and to make Him the center of our lives, as He alone can handle that responsibility . Likewise, this book offers some rather standard appeals to believers as to what they are are supposed to do in light of reading this book–namely reading the Bible more and being more diligent and focused in prayer . Of interest is the way that the author blends quotes from his own band (who apparently recorded an album titled “Look And Live,” making this book at times feel like a plug for the cd, in the same way that the cd is probably a plug for the book as well), as well as the way in which the author discusses (with the apparent permission of his wife) such matters as his passionate and somewhat stalkerish courtship of his wife as well as some of the more adorable quirks of his young daughters. These touches somewhat overcome the oversharing about the author, who like some authors  tends extremely candid about his own life and errors.
A book that is this personal and this passionate is going to have some mistakes, and this author has plenty of them. For one, he comes at life with a moderate Calvinist perspective, and that presents its usual difficulties in tone because the author feels it necessary to briefly discuss the problem of suffering  as well as Christian Hedonism (the view of John Piper). Other difficulties are the fact that the author comes to his material with a zeal not according to knowledge, including serious errors on the nature of God as well as a mistaken belief in the immortality of the soul that is contrary to scripture. These errors, some of which permeate deeply into the approach of the author to his material, detract materially from a proper enjoyment of this book for those readers who come at the material with a more biblical worldview. The author, given his worldview, is also forced to speak in a two-sided view towards the law, pointing up Calvinist “legalism” in one sense and touting his focus on obeying God even in difficult matters while also clearly failing to recognize the Sabbath commandment and its applicability, claiming that the Sabbath is a command about purposeful rest and not the precise purposeful rest on the seventh day that God commands. This sort of tension makes it impossible to believe in the author’s credibility to speak as anything approaching an expert on following God, since He does not fully respect God’s ways himself.
That said, there is a lot about this book that is inspiring and personally relevant. The author’s discussion of God’s passionate wooing of mankind, the frustrated longings of God to be at one with humans and its applicability to our own frustrated longings, is very much on point. The relationship between art and the artist to general and specific revelation is also spot on–we can know much about an artist from his art, but it does not substitute for a real and personal relationship with the artist. This is true whether we are talking about human artists and writers or our Creator. This book is filled with an honest and sincere passion, and it is impossible not to appreciate it in some fashion even if one does not agree with all aspects of it. If the author gets quite a bit wrong, he gets one very good and necessary thing right–we have to be filled with zeal and enthusiasm for God as a personal being in a relationship with us, and our passion cannot help but influence our lives in other aspects and enrich our relationships with other people as well. We are all broken, we are all flawed, and we all deserve death, but God in His mercy and through His son has given us life, and the help we need through His Spirit to become more like Him. How can someone not love that, or love those who are created in His image as our brothers and sisters?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: