The Way Of The Warrior: An Ancient Path To Inner Peace, by Erwin Raphael McManus
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Waterbrook/Multnomah. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Being a bit unfamiliar with the author and his approach previous to this book, I found it intriguing that he would choose to discuss the Christian’s walk by making use of an extended metaphor of a samurai warrior. Japan is not a nation known for its openness to Christianity, and many Christians do not see the life of a believer as mimicking the life of a devoted warrior to a daimyo (although parallels between Christ and such a lord are easy enough to find). In many ways, this book reminds me of my own thoughts concerning the way that conversion to God’s ways means one has enlisted in a heavenly army, a commitment that does not involve pacifism but does require a different attitude towards conflict and strength than one would normally expect. Admittedly, the author draws different parallels from this than I would from my own faith perspective, but at the same time the author’s thoughts are worthwhile because they indicate that being a warrior does not always mean what one thinks it would mean.
After an introductory section on the code of the warrior, modeled after the love of the author for samurai and movies about them, the author divides this slightly more than 200 page book into eight chapters that each deal with an individual aspect of the author’s view of the code of the warrior. First, the author tackles the paradoxical idea that the warrior fights only for peace. Christian warriors are not to be in love with conflict for the sake of conflict but are to desire peace that involves personal reconciliation as well as reconciliation between God and man. Next, the warrior seeks to become invisible (2) and is not showy or all about receiving personal attention. Third, the warrior finds honor in service. Fourth, the warrior gains mastery over their mind, which allows the author to talk about the problems of anxiety and worry at some length. Fifth, the warrior owns defeat, recognizing that there is not necessarily dishonor in having attempted something beyond one’s capabilities, but that no matter the earthly success of one’s endeavors one can behave with honor and dignity. Sixth, the warrior harnesses their strength. Seventh, the warrior becomes at one with all things, recognizing that he (or she) is not apart from creation but is a part of creation. Finally, the warrior stands in their pain, recognizing that suffering and pain are the way that one becomes stronger.
Overall, this book is a good one. The author does have some fairly common quality among writers, namely a tendency to refer to his previous writings and to other people he knows through his work with Mosaic. The author also spends a lot of time talking about his El Salvadorian background, all of which helps the reader unfamiliar with him and his background to better understand where he comes from. Overall, the effort by the author to view the Christian life as being a type of samurai service is a successful one, largely because the author reframes the image of a warrior from one in which it has traditionally been operated. By focusing on aspects of spiritual warfare, the ultimate desire to peace, and loyalty and service and self-mastery, as opposed to developing physical and weapons prowess in order to dominate others, the author provides an image of service as a trained and skilled military elite an appealing prospect in an age where Christianity is often falsely equated with pacifism, and that is a worthy accomplishment.