Made For His Pleasure: Benchmarks Of A Vital Faith, by Alistair Begg
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers/Net Gallery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is the sort of book that I would want to like but a situation where the author’s approach makes it hard to really like this book as much as I want to. It is hard to know where the blame for this lies. To be sure, I am an extremely oversensitive reader, and that can make for rough reviews  from time to time. And there is certainly room for some of that year. For example, when the author talks about godly marriage, I took it as somewhat of an insult that not only did the author assume that the reader was likely married but also that an unmarried man is, by definition, immature and not having passed fully into adulthood. Perhaps, in such cases, the author did not mean to insult his unmarried readers, but it is just as likely that he never thought about that sort of perspective at all. Indeed, the author as a whole seems to have a presuppositional sort of approach where he assumes the validity of his (mistaken) worldview and fails to account for the fact that other people would think or believe differently from himself, with predictable results.
This book is a bit under 200 pages and is made up of ten chapters after two forewords by John McArthur and RC Sproul and an introduction by the author. The author discusses spiritual fitness in a flabby world (1) while making fun of people who are not particularly fit and trim. He then talks about prayer that is larger than ourselves (2) as well as the importance of making sacrifices and commitment to God’s kingdom (3), where he finds a way to praise an aunt of his who died early in her own missionary career. After that the author talks about having a marriage that is pleasing to God (4), and finding an ideal vocation to serve God in what we do (5). After this the author talks about how to please God during suffering (6) where he discusses the Calvinist view that all suffering is something willed by God, living the narrow way and avoiding heedlessness (7), and avoid chasing after the wind through intellectualism and materialism (8). The author then closes with a discussion of how we need to put on the garment of humility (9) and bring others to Christ through salvation (10) before the usual conclusion, acknowledgements, and notes.
I have two basic approaches to a book like this. One is to recognize that the author means well and to give it some praise for the author’s intentions to encourage godly and responsible living and what he considers a “vital faith.” That said, this book is a prime example of why Calvinists should write far fewer books. Here a book about personal faith gets tangled up with all kinds of cases where the author appears to insult a large number of potential readers and demonstrates the problematic nature of combining a belief that now is the only day of salvation (leading to aggressive efforts at evangelism) alongside the offensive Calvinist view of predestination that views all kinds of tragic and problematic results of human free will as being specifically ordained by God, all of which makes this book far less pleasant than it could have been had it been written by a thoughtful and serious Arminian. The message written by the author is something that needs to be said in an age of selfishness and general moral and spiritual (and, sadly, physical) flabbiness, but the author is just not a kind and gentle enough person to make this message palatable to any reader outside of his own narrow worldview.
 See, for example: