4 Abundant Life: 4 Biblical Truths To Experience A Life Of Abundance, by Drs. Eric & Joanna Oestmann
[Note: This book was provided by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
As someone who is more than a little bit critical of the prosperity gospel , this is a book that is easy to criticize. This book, like many of its kinds, shows the influence of the Prayer of Jabez, perhaps one of the most ungodly books of recent decades to be marketed as a Christian book while preaching the theology of Job’s friends. The particularly heresy this book and others of its ilk falls into is the heresy of extrapolating spiritual state by the conditions a believer lives their life. Although this book does not escape the general tendency of many contemporary writers to blame the victim of misfortune, the authors at least frame abundance in a way that includes more than material blessings and that encourages in the reader an attitude of gratitude for the blessings that come from a believer even in the midst of difficulty. And, correctly, the authors point out the importance of having an attitude of thankfulness in the blessings of God, whatever they happen to be. So long as the book is taken as an encouragement to gratitude and a spur to have an attitude of seeing the positive, and not as demanding finger wagging, this book can be enjoyed despite its serious flaws.
The materials of this book are framed around four statements that the author makes, which form part of biblical truth, albeit not the whole story. The author states that (1) we are anointed to prosper (2) at an appointed time (3) when we use our talents and gifts (4) for the glory of God. The rest of the chapters in this book serve to flesh out what the author means with insufficient nuance and a great deal of tedious repetitiousness. From the author’s comments and bibliography, it is pretty clear what kind of preachers and contemporary Christian “thinkers” the authors endorse, like Dr. Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. Over and over again the authors encourage the readers to think about what they are saying by making some sort of bold but ultimately unbalanced statement or question. If one views a debate about God’s promises by looking at a dialectic between promises of abundance and promises of struggle and trial and difficulty, this book manages to present one side of that dialectic and provide plenty of scriptures taken out of context and named and claimed for believers. Even when the author speaks about grief and suffering, there is an evident desire to explain it away or comment that it is not such a big deal, something that is alarming given one of the author’s experience working with survivors of serious traumas. The sort of minimization provided in this book is not particularly helpful in coming to terms with the complete picture of life.
Even so, although this book represents a heretical prosperity theology that springs up mainly among privileged peoples and classes who view their abundance as a sign that they are obeying God and doing His will rather than as being unmerited blessing given for the service of others, there is a lot to offer in this book when it is not being offensive or heretical. In particular, the authors point to aspects that influence our appreciation of the blessings we are given, such as the importance of timing and the way our gifts are to serve for God’s glory. If the authors had spent less time viewing the existence of evil as someone sort of argument against the validity of God’s promises when taken in their proper context and with their full complexity, and more time pointing on the service that our blessings and abundance was to do with others, this book may have managed to be a good one, even in spite of itself.
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