My stomach usually starts a minor Civil War against my other greater sensibilities whenever I see a Christian book title like this one. There are quite a few “be a man” books out there. Some are good. Most are more about how to be Rocky Balboa than a follower of Jesus. Books with titles like Muscular Faith are usually heavy on the muscles and lax on the faith.
It’s the former category—the Rocky Balboa type—that I assumed this book would fall under. It’s starts with a quote from C.S. Lewis (an apt theologian but one that those "warrior” types like to quote) and a translation from The Message. So, I braced myself for what would be an agonizing 260 pages of my palm constantly hitting my face.
Somewhere in the first fifty pages or so my opinion radically changed. Rather than assuming that this was one of those theologically-weak testosterone-filled diatribe’s I soon discovered that this guy was solid. Suddenly I realized that the “fight” and the “muscular faith” that this guy was calling for is none other than the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
This book became one worth recommending. Once I discovered that this book would be worth recommending my next task would be to find out who needs this book. And that proves a tough task. I have to answer two questions, “what is this book claiming?” and “who would benefit from it?”.
What is the book about?
Muscular Faith is a relatively lengthy book but it reads quickly. It is filled with engaging stories and simple points. For 260 pages Patterson gives what seems to be an introduction to the gospel and how to live out the Christian faith. But it’s not just any old introduction to the Christian faith; it reads more like a battle plan than a theology text book. Patterson is real about the wounds that come from following Jesus. I appreciate that.
As near as I can tell his point is to explain the Christian faith and how to live out what Christ has purchased in a way that debunks the lazy and superficial faith of many that merely profess Christ.
Who would benefit from it?
It seems to me that Patterson’s main audience is professing Christians, probably college guys that are more passionate about the next Halo tournament than living for Jesus. It’s probably not going to stir up someone that reads Puritans but it may be the next step for teenagers raised on event-driven and Spam-eating youth groups.
I could see this book appealing to and assisting college men in their walk with Jesus. It may even be something to give to an unbeliever that thinks the Christian faith is mostly for purple-haired women and effeminate dudes.
I kind of wish that this book were a little less lengthy. It’s kind of like trying to convince an 80 pound junior high kid that he needs to lift weights by throwing him into a workout with the professional wrestlers. He’s probably wondering if he can even bench press the bar and these guys are throwing on 45’s just to get him started.
If you are trying to “build up their spiritual muscles” as the back of the book claims then perhaps you shouldn’t do it with a 260 page book. Yes, it reads quickly but I’d rather see a shorter book that makes much the same arguments but then refers in a few places to other resources.
This book is probably best for the guy that has been lifting weights for awhile but he’s kind of a nancy and doesn’t want to push himself any further. He’s comfortable with his bench press so there’s really no need getting any stronger. In other words this book is probably not the first Christian book you want your college student to read—but it might be a “raise the bar” challenge to someone that has already read a few books and is pretty confident in his stagnant Christianity.
If you purchase this book and give it to someone I’d like to know what you think. Did other people find it helpful? If so, who? If you know someone that can benefit from this book give me an email or leave a comment and I’ll send it to you free of charge…only one rule though…you HAVE to give it away, or convince me you need it. First come first serve.