The story of David and Goliath is so notorious that it’s hardly known at all. There are many who know the story and yet there are few who understand the intent of the story. To ease the burden of comprehension, many will interpret the historical story according to predefined representations and symbolizations. Louie Giglio’s recent most recent book, Goliath Must Fall, follows that same approach.
Known for hosting the Passion Conference, which boasted an attendance of 57,000 at its most recent event, Giglio is a pastor of Passion City Church (Atlanta, GA), author, and sought-after speaker. His DVD “Indescribable” received much attention for its magnification of God through the immensity of the universe. His influence, thus, is far and wide, and no doubt many will find themselves drawn to his most recent book based on his name alone.
Goliath Must Fall has one priority: to teach people how to conquer the giants in their lives. These giants are the things that hold people back, and according to the author, they must be done away with because of Christ’s work on the cross to conquer them. While not untrue, his rationale for this is the story of David and Goliath, which he constantly reminds readers of throughout the book. He utilizes the story of David’s victory over Goliath as Jesus’ victory over our afflictions. Primarily, Giglio addresses five afflictions: Fear, rejection, comfort, anger, and addiction.
Unfortunately, this is a book wrought with all kinds of problems. Ultimately, there are four things that readers need to be aware of when reading this brief (224 pages) work:
- Allegorism: Giglio rightly points out something important about the story of David and Goliath. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not Goliath. It’s great that he understands this point. Unfortunately, he follows that profound formation with a profound fallacy. He asserts that this is Jesus defending us from our giants throughout the book. In other words, while trying to correct the false allegories that pervade this text, he performs his own allegorical interpretation of it.
- Secularism: Throughout the book, Giglio brings in various degrees of secularism to prove his points. At times the book sounds like a secular counseling session that blames parents for one’s problems (i.e. worry is the result of our parents’ influence). This is minimal and at times he will balance it out with gospel-oriented interpretations. Therefore, if this issue stood alone it would not disqualify the book.
- Humanism: Goliath Must Fall is replete with humanistic ideologies. The author often uses his words to point people toward the necessity of worshiping our Lord and living for Him, yet the attitude that is often conveyed often has little to do with the character of God and more about what a person receives out of it. This can especially be seen in his use of the term worship, something he describes simply as a shift of attention to see God better. However, this minimalistic idea of God diminishes our response to God’s activities and attributes. In fact, his cultivation of worship seems to promote worship as a work that we undertake in order to earn faith rather than worship being a response of our faith (see location 1200). Perhaps this is because he seems to define worship solely as singing and never talks about the many facets that worship entails.
- Universalism: Finally, the book has slight inclinations of universalism. At several points his wording makes it sound as though all people are accepted by God and going to heaven. This is especially clear in chapter four when he conveys a story of sharing a devotional with the United States swim team headed to the 2016 Olympics. The author states very clearly that he his relationship with the team existed only with one person who invited him to share. Apart from that one person he knew little of them and ye he tells each of them to remember that the heavenly Father has accepted them and said: “This one is mine” (Location 1528).
Some may look at these four points and simply indicate there was a misunderstanding in reading the author’s words, but the words seem to be quite clear. However, for the benefit of the doubt, we could say I misunderstood all the author said, and if that were the case, the carelessness with the words played out upon the page should cause concern in themselves.
Ultimately, Goliath Must Fall is a book that gives readers an unsustainable faith. There are many words, yet most of it consists of hollowness that will leave readers feeling empty because it never establishes the true principles of the gospel. If it did, readers could be hopeful and see just how these allegorical giants could be conquered. If you are struggling and looking for a book that gets to the root of the issue, I would instead suggest looking to a book like Edward Welch’s Side by Side as a better alternative.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, the review of this book is a response resulting from my own reading.