Seeking Truth: Devotion Vs. Spirituality: A Study Guide To The Word Of God, by Denise Snow
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review.]
As someone whose feelings about authority have always been tinged with a strong sense of ambivalence, it is nevertheless important to note that every attack made against authority of any kind is, however subtly made, a claim being made as to a different kind of authority. The author of this self-published book introduces her book by making a stinging attack on the traditions of churches, appealing to believers to rely on a mystical personal connection with God in the absence of loyalty towards congregations or religious institutions. In attacking the authority of churches, the author seeks to present herself as a spiritual authority in her own right, with her own injunctions to “Read The Bible,” which are frequently labeled in this book as RTB. Yet aside from the tension between the author’s forthright criticism of flawed human leadership of churches and her own subtle and unexpressed desire to be seen as a biblical authority to the reader, there is an additional tension that must be discussed, in that the subtitle of the book makes a false dilemma between devotion and spirituality that is nowhere explained or discussed in the book’s contents.
This false dilemma is notable because the book itself presents the contents as a study guide to the Word of God when in reality it is merely a set of trivia questions and sometimes mistaken interpretations concerning the book of Genesis. There are almost 300 questions asked, along with numerous tips given, throughout the slightly more than 50 pages of total material provided here. It is unclear if the author wishes to increase the size of this book by adding the “study guides” to the remaining books of the Bible, or if there will be additional books in the series , but hopefully in future editions the title of the book will be changed in order to better reflect its contents as providing trivia questions or short interpretations with biblical citations and admonitions to read the Bible, rather than provide some sort of study guide as a whole, as there is nothing so organized within the book except for the brief and troubling introductory section of the book with its praise of private mysticism on the part of believers. Perhaps the author needs to read the Bible and look up, to take a scripture not entirely at random, 2 Peter 1:20 concerning matters of private origin or interpretation of scripture.
In the final analysis, this book is not really about the seeking of truth, nor is it a study guide to the Bible, but rather it is a book that provides trivia questions from someone who believes herself (mistakenly) to understand the deeper meanings of the Bible that test the biblical understanding of the reader in ways that are either bizarre in nature–like positing a belief in two separate species of mankind, one as the spiritual man and the other as physical man–or are fairly ordinary and unspectacular observations on details. The author makes much use of the amplified Bible while simultaneously claiming to take the Bible literally, at its word. It is unclear if the author is aware of the tensions, if not contradictions, between her claims and her achievements, or between what she openly avows and what she ends up doing without admitting or drawing attention to it. In some ways she strikes one as a fairly traditionalist bible-thumper, and in other ways as almost Gnostic in her dualism and spirituality. One wonders if the author herself knows who she is, but this book is mainly useful as an encouragement to read the Bible and to take its details seriously. It is short enough as a book that it is not without value even with its flaws.
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