Book Review: God’s Way Of Peace

God’s Way Of Peace:  A Book For The Anxious, by Horatius Bonar

This book is not an ideal book for the anxious.  I am not saying that this is the worst possible book for the anxious, but as a person who both struggles mightily with anxiety [1] and who somewhat predictably reads about the subject [2], this book is not ideal.  Perhaps the biggest problem with this book is that a tough-minded to the point of being immensely judgmental Scottish Presbyterian felt that he was called upon by God to write an encouraging and comforting book about anxiety to an audience.  Only it is not a comforting and encouraging book at all, instead serving as part of an extensive body of literature that condemns the anxious for being ungodly and unchristian, which merely adds to the struggles and difficulties that anxious people already have.  Perhaps in general it would be good for those who consider themselves (and who likely are considered by others) to be Calvinist champions of the faith to automatically assume that they are not fit to write books that are comforting and encouraging, as it will prevent this sort of book from being written amiss.

Intriguingly enough, this version of the book was released by a Presbytrian church that laughably thought that book would help bring anxious and burdened souls to Christ.  This tract of a bit more than 50 pages begins with God’s testimony about man from the point of view of Calvinism (1).  It then assaults the ground of people to find peace with God on their own terms (2), and points to God’s character of our resting place (3).  The author speaks of righteous grace (4), the blood of sprinkling (5), and the substitutionary work of Christ (6).  The author speaks of the word of the truth of the Gospel (7), urges the reader to believe and be saved (8) just now (9) and then insults the reader for lacking the power to believe (10) and for insensibility to God’s grace (11) and points to our finding peace only in Jesus (12), making the somewhat strange insistence that Jesus Christ is a savior and not a helper, not realizing that one can be both, and that being a helper is not necessarily being an assistant but also a mentor and guide.  Even by the standards of Calvinist writing this book has some odd and very flawed logic.

And it is worth discussing this issue at some length because bad logic as well as a bad heart is at the bottom of a lot of this book’s serious problems and make it a baffling choice for a church to champion in order to bring anxious and burdened souls to Christ.  For one, the author makes the inexplicable choice to assume that his audience is made up of people who are anxious because they are not converted.  Throughout the book the author appears to pose a false dilemma between the entirely confident and content Christian and the anxious unbeliever, assuming that anxiety and concern can only come from a lack of saving faith as opposed to a struggle with the full workings out of God within us.  The framing of this book, picturing the reader as someone whose anxiety is a sign of spiritual failure and an unsaved condition, is not likely to ease the burdens of an anxious believer reading this work.  In addition to that, the author’s quibbling over words that are clearly applied to God (namely that of a helper) indicates a certain unwillingness to accept the Bible as it is and to hold to narrow and inaccurate views of certain biblical concepts, which only makes this book more contentious and pointed than it truly needs to be.  Again, this book is a clear example of why Calvinist polemics do not make for comforting and encouraging books to anxious believers.

[1] See, for example:

[2] 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 Book Reviews, Christianity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Book Review: God’s Way Of Peace

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Reblogging for future reference:

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Just Do Something | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Crazy Busy | 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