Book Review: Sacred Romance

Sacred Romance:  Drawing Closer To The Heart Of God, by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge

How one feels about this book will greatly depend on the extent to which the reader has a high opinion of the thoughts of C.S. Lewis, the ascetic gnostic Desert Fathers, and other human thinkers about the heart of God.  To the extent that one considers mystics like St. John of the Cross or Julian of Norwich to be able to speak authoritatively about the longings of believers, one will find this book to be convincing.  However, those readers who demand more biblical thought and less mystical and less Hellenistic ideas will find this book wanting because while it is the product of two people who have read their Henri Nouwen and other such books on Christian romance well [1], the author’s grasp of the Bible is less than profound.  That said, the authors do manage to make a point that could be very well supported through scripture if the authors were not so intent on proving their bona fides by making extraneous extrabiblical references to the Trinity or to other mainstream Christian thinkers.  The real concern with a book like this is the extent to which the author’s points themselves come from scripture, either from direct revelation or at least from strong indirect hints and implications.  Fortunately, this is the case.

The contents of this book are organized in a thematic and somewhat systematic way.  The coauthors work well together and manage to write a book that captures God’s role as a beloved and mankind’s role as being the unwilling objects of God’s passionate love and affection.  Admittedly, this subject hits close to home for a variety of very serious personal reasons, not least my own troubled personal history and my own disastrous quest for love and intimacy over the course of my life, and this is relevant because the authors spend a lot of time talking about their own backgrounds and their own arrows, as they term it, from living in a fallen world.  The authors manage to strike the right balance between discussing God’s devotion and the difficulties we face as human being with intimacy–this is some of the most passionate writing you will get from men, and it is directed to both men and women, who both will find a great deal to appreciate here.  This is a book with genuine heart, and the authors wear their hearts on a sleeve while talking about how God pursues man and how and why man runs away.  The result is a book that drips with heartfelt emotion.

That said, there is a bit of a tension at the heart of this book and it is one that deserves to be recognized by the reader if not by the surviving writer.  That tension is that the book itself is the product of people who write with a great deal of intellectual skill, as demonstrated in their choice of reading as well as their concern over language and their almost obsessive desire to be considered orthodox by couching their discussion of the intimacy of God in the unbiblical language of the Trinity.  Yet the authors spare few efforts in seeking to denigrate intellect and reason in this book.  To be sure, there is a great deal of religious practice that privileges either right doing or right knowing as opposed to right being, but the authors are too heavily invested in the life of intellect, not least by writing a book on the subject, in order to so heavily slight the gifts of reason and intellect that come from our heavenly Father.  It is one thing to recognize that many people only approach God with the mind, and that this is a failing, but it crosses the line when one insults the gift of the mind that God has given, even if many of us need a great deal of work on our hearts when it comes to our fears and anxieties and longings.  This book does not entirely manage that task successfully, and so it must be recommended with some caution.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Love & Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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