Friday, February 20, 2009

Review of The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner

Author: David Benner

Pages: 114 pages

Publisher: IVP Books

Price: 10.40

Genre: Christian Spirituality

Quick Summary:

At the core of this book David Benner hopes that we understand the importance of knowing our true self. The self that God created and the self that God really knows. His hope is that we might reject the false self and embrace our true selves. This book is a book about self-discovery but it is also a book about discovering God. You cannot know yourself unless you truly know God. Benner hopes that this book will set us on a journey of doing both.

What I Liked:

I think the core point that Benner is getting at is pretty solid. We need to be real and part of the process of redemption is God stripping away our false self and transforming us into who He really has crafted us to be. The core I think is good; the layers, however, are muddy at best--unbiblical at worse.

Another positive aspect to this book is the Benner does make the principles practical. He offers practical suggestions for getting to know God better and our true self better.

What I Disliked:

I went through this book with a group of pastors and most of us shared the same dislike—the truth that Benner proclaims in this book is so clouded by psychobabble that it makes the book almost irrelevant. There are statements in this book that cause me to shake my head and wonder not only what Benner is talking about but why he said it the way that he did. There are quite a few statements in this book that tiptoe towards crossing the line of biblical theology. Here are some of the samples:

“No one is born with an identity, and Jesus was no exception…and being fully human meant that he, like all humans, had to discover who he was. Even Jesus had to find his way, his self.” (p.93)

“Jesus’ understanding of his vocation came out of wrestling with God, himself and the devil in the solitude of the wilderness.” (p.99)

And this quote, I think sums up the fundamental problem with Benner’s theology and this book. Speaking of the human capacity for self-deception Benner says this, “This is taught in Scripture and confirmed by psychology.” Since when does psychology have the right to “confirm” Scripture. As one fellow pastor said, “there is a difference between being a psychologist that is a Christian and a Christian that is a psychologist”. Benner seems to be the former and as another pastor said, “a little theology would have went a long way in this book”.

Should You Buy It?

If you have discernment and are able to sift through mud to find gold then it might be a good read. I would not suggest it for the new believer or a Christian that struggles with discernment. I think someone could be a deep sinner, read this book, and walk away from it very comfortable in his sin and comfortable with himself. That would not be Benner’s intent but his writing opens up the door for such things.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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