Absolute Love, by R.I. Willroth
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
Like many self-published books , this book exists in the shadow of far greater books. It is clear from reading this book that the author is well educated and well-read. There are lengthy citations from the Bible, references to research in psychology, some reading of books on Islam, as well as books on Christian mysticism and references to the writings of John Piper and other well-regarded contemporary Calvinist thinkers. The author has a large ambition, to defend a staunchly Trinitarian view of God, which is insistently and irritatingly repeated throughout, while seeking at the same time to build a bridge of absolute love for Jews and Muslims who find the Trinity confusing and polytheistic while maintaining the mistaken viewpoints of the Synod of Dort . It is clear that this author has bitten off more than he can properly chew here, and it is unclear whether he should be rewarded for his ambition or chided and criticized harshly for his delusions of grandeur as an author and a theologian.
The contents of this book are a hopelessly contradictory mess, but even so there is something of worth in them, not least because the book is well-referenced to better (if not more accurate) authors and because there are a lot of word studies here that readers can undertake if they so wish. The author quibbles over words, and appears to be of the mindset that if one repeats the fallacious proposition of equality between the biblical conception of the I AM and the unbiblical and manmade concept of the Trinity enough times it may actually become so. One almost pities the writer, and one certainly pities the reader of this book. Certainly the writer cannot actually expect that merely saying that Christians, Jews, and Muslims should love each other because of certain similarities that exist between their conceptions of God in the various Holy Books can overcome the violence and hostility of extremist Islam that has created an atmosphere of mistrust and even fear towards Muslims and certainly towards the Quran that exist. Certainly the writer cannot expect that he can show himself as a defender of God’s ways by attacking God’s laws, can wade into the Sabbath and defend its validity without being called into question for not practicing or defending the biblical Sabbath, can claim to be a defender of an absolute love while at the same time chiding churchgoers for not serving enough in their local congregations. Has this author examined himself and repented of the beam in his own eye as he attempts to deal with the specks in the eyes of others? One wonders if the theological education of the author, obtained with great sacrifice of time and cost, has merely made the author an arrogant Calvinist and not aided him in practicing love towards others.
So, how is one to take this book? At its best, this book should encourage self-reflection and perhaps even a metanoia (repentance, change of mind) on the part of the reader to devote themselves to loving fellow believers and even enemies better. The book contains thoughtful citations of scripture, and at least can suggest that the reader pick up those books that the writer was inspired by for their own reading and study, if they so wish. This is by no means a great book. It is not worthless, but it is somewhat misconceived in that the author is blind to his limitations as a writer and to his woefully mistaken biblical worldview. This is a book that is almost worth reading for its comedic value alone, for the many likely unintentional ironies it presents as a book that passionately urges love and outgoing concern among its readers while showing continually that not only does the writer himself lack that love but that he substitutes weighty knowledge about the Bible for only a slight acquaintance with the actual theological and doctrinal content of the Bible. The effort reads like the efforts of a clever and bookish but spiritually clueless sophomore at a Bible college to being a great spiritual guide for humanity, cosmic in their ambition and scope and somewhat laughable in their execution.
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