Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: “O” God

OGodBookI just completed the newest book by Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett which focuses its attention on some of the spiritual teachings that have been advocated in recent years on the Oprah Winfrey Show.  The book deals with the works of several different authors that mostly emphasize New Age concepts. 

The works addressed in this book include those by Eckert Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, and A Course in Miracles International

This book has several things to recommend it.  First, it’s written as a novel and is not your standard book on Christian theology or apologetics.  Instead, you are invited to read about a brief period in the life of Lindsey and her friends.  Following the death of her father, Lindsey has a number of questions.  She is a fan of Oprah (both the show and the magazine), and has shaped much of her spiritual views around those advocated by Oprah Winfrey.  Lindsey’s friend, an Indian philosophy student named Avatari, is a Christian convert from Hinduism who engages Lindsey in dialog about her faith.  This sets the stage for a book that is reminiscent of The Shack (using a novel-like setting with fictional characters and events to allow for theologically-driven dialog).

As a novel, the situations are admittedly a bit contrived.  But I view these as necessary in order to allow for the characters to engage in the dialog which is the focus of the book.  As it turns out, the dialog is the second reason to read the book, and it’s perhaps the best reason.  By reading this book, one not only gets a good foundation in Christian doctrine to refute some of the New Age ideas espoused by Oprah, but it provides an opportunity for people that would like to share their faith to see what a dialog with one of their questioning friends might look like.

In so many books today, we are introduced to information that, while helpful, doesn’t really shows us how to use it in a conversation.  This is where “O” God excels.  It takes these foundational concepts and applies them to an imagined conversation between two friends.  In doing this, the reader is taught not only what to say, but how to say it.

The third thing I really like about this book is that it has a specific focus.  There are so many books you can pick up that try to cover many different topics.  But this one takes a direct look at the spirituality taught by Oprah and her friends, and it responds to these teachings in a succinct and straightforward manner.  For those who have watched the Oprah Winfrey show (and to hear the Nielsen ratings, that’s quite a lot!), this book provides direct responses to direct statements made both on the TV show and in the magazine.  And it does so in the form of a dialog that is easy to understand.

Finally, this book doesn’t assume a great deal of background knowledge in order to understand the theological points being made.  It takes the reader from where they are and gently offers a Biblical alternative to the teachings that are found within Oprah’s show and magazine.  This book knows its target audience, and it does a great job of speaking directly to it without becoming confusing or preachy.

If you’re a fan of Oprah’s spiritual ideas, or if you know someone who is, this book will provide a great resource for you.  It will give you a Biblical alternative to these teachings, and it will do so in an engaging and easily understood way.

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