Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Matters Most by Leonard Sweet

Never before have I been so surprised by a book.

Leonard Sweet has experienced a re-release; What Matters Most used to be titled Out of the Question...Into the Mystery. I was expecting the typical hum-drum faith-based inspirational reading but what I got was punch-in-the-gut awesomeness.

Christianity: a series of truths, or a relationship to be lived out? Maybe both? Sweet attacks this debate from the post-modern worldview and defends the need for relationship with God.

Filled with eight parts, each part containing two sections, Sweet tackles the many areas of this relationship:

1. Faith is a Relationship
2. Our Relationship with God
3. Our Relationship with God's Story
4. Our Relationship with Other People of Faith
5. Our Relationship with Those Outside the Faith
6. Our Relationship with God's Creation
7. Our Relationship with Symbols, Arts
8. Our Relationship with the Spiritual World

I enjoyed Sweet's defining the difference between faith and belief and that maybe we shouldn't call Christians "believers" as we could actually include Satan in this group (as he and the demons believe in God). Faith is the more difficult because it causes an action - a relationship.

Sweet than takes a journey into the story of Abraham and his potential sacrifice of Isaac. His interpretation could cause some people of faith to squirm a bit as he says Abraham both passed and failed God's test. He passed the obedience test but failed the relationship test.

I had to put the book down, open my Bible, and do some study on my own. It's a very interesting take on the sacrifice story and Sweet asks twenty superb questions; such as: Why did God ask him to sacrifice his son but then an angel tell him to stop? Why didn't Abraham argue with God about this scenario like he did about the Sodomites? Did you notice that after this event, God no longer speaks to Abraham? Did you notice that Abraham is alone after he comes back from the mountain?

This early section of the book is worth the entire read.

Later on, Sweet continues his mantra on relationship verses simply having statements of belief and how God desires interaction with his creation more than intellectually concurring with statements . These later sections resonate well with the post-modern mindset and he does an excellent job with the questions for discussion at the end to really bring out deep conversations.

This is a fantastic re-release.

This book was provided for review, at no cost, by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing.

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