Book Review: So You Want To Grow

So You Want To Grow:  Steps Along The Way To Spiritual Maturity, by Luis Palau

This book, first published in 1983, is notable more for its placement in the development of the contemporary devotional than it is for its rather commonplace materials itself.  One can view this book as an intermediate step in the development of the contemporary devotional form [1], but not at the final development.  This book provides 52 steps to spiritual development that are heavy on scriptures, fairly short in being 2-3 pages, and all of that comes up to a book that is a bit over 150 pages, which is right in line with the size and structure of the contemporary devotional, yet without the same sort of glitzy design and scriptures before the main text.  Even when reading books as ordinary and humdrum as this one is, it is still exciting for me to see developments in a genre that is massively popular, even if it happens to be a genre I greatly dislike reading as a general rule.  Thankfully, this book manages to avoid a lot of what makes many devotionals difficult to enjoy, even as it shows a certain movement even during the early 1980’s towards books that were short and filled with small chunks of information rather than lengthy works of depth and detail.

In terms of its contents, and what the steps to spiritual development the author discusses, there is little that is groundbreaking or original to be found here.  The author hits notes that would be familiar to any Protestant of the Evangelical persuasion.  The author has high views towards the work of evangelism but appears not to focus on evangelizing through a Christian example but rather through discourse and apologetics and that sort of work.  The author has an ambivalent relationship with matters of righteousness, showing a great deal of concern about legalism, but he urges acceptance of biblical standards of personal morality, especially with regards to sexuality.  Ultimately, there is nothing here that one could not see in dozens, or even hundreds of other books released before this one and since this one was published.  As there are always people looking to improve their lives it should come as little surprise that this sort of book would be so enduringly popular despite having nothing new to offer any of its readers.  Even so, this is not a worthless book to read as having encouragement to live in a godly way is something to be appreciated even if this book lacks a great deal of depth.

One wonders what sort of audience this book and others like it is being directed to.  Those readers who would truly benefit from the advice this book provides would benefit even more from the Bible itself, unfiltered by the author’s simplifications.  Those readers particularly keen on improving their lives and growing in grace and knowledge would also do well to read material of more intellectual and spiritual depth than the author can provide as well.  He can find 52 steps, with some steps being continuations of the previous point, and can divide them into four somewhat arbitrary sections, but there is a lot in this book that does not even scratch the surface of what the Bible commands or encourages among believers.  This book is ultimately about what the author thinks and not really about what the Bible says.  What the author thinks is relatively conventional by the standards of Evangelical writers, of which there are a lot.  It is striking, and not particularly satisfying, to see in a book that is not very new the same sort of cliches that are still spread in books today.  Does no one read enough books to see the same sort of solutions being proposed and the same sorts of complaints being made over and over again?

[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 Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review: So You Want To Grow

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Gifts From Heaven | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Reclaiming The Art Of Biblical Meditation | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Benefits In God | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s