Living for the Glory of God ~ Vivir para la Gloria de Dios

The Call ~ A Book Review

Finding the Bible too difficult to understand, Bible interpretation has undergone the spiritualization movement in which one searches out a personal spiritual meaning of each text. The goal is to make the Bible more personal and more personally applicable. There are many issues with this spiritualization of the text that time does not permit us to discuss. Interestingly though, in an effort to make the Bible clearer, there are areas in which this methodology has made biblical concepts more obscure. Especially notable among these is the concept of God’s will.
Overspiritualization has lead to uncertainty about what God’s will is for one’s life. Failing to consider God’s gift of talents, opportunities, and Scripture, God’s will is seen as something one has to search for using ’signs,’ interpretations, and feelings. Much time and money are spent on lessons,  teachings, and books all meant to guide individuals towards God’s will for his or her life. 20 years after its first release, Thomas Nelson and Os Guinness are releasing a revised and expanded edition of his book The Call that directly addresses this important topic of the Christian life.
The Call is a book that has received mixed reception through the years, with some calling it a necessary read while others concerned that it was not sufficiently connected to Scripture. After reading this book a person can understand why Guinness’ writing is so captivating. He has a skill to that draws readers to the text and forces them to remain with it for the duration.  Therefore, the influence that the author has with readers has the propensity to be impactful and necessitates a level of responsibility with the content that is being presented.
Os Guinness’ presentation is meditative in which the 26 chapters are not meant to be read quickly, but one per sitting allowing time to dwell upon the content. After giving a brief example, the author expands on the topic being presented before forcing readers to deliberately contemplate the content through reflective questions that close each chapter. The book itself is more comprehensive than one would expect as he covers topics important not merely to the call, but issues of Christian conduct that impact one’s commitment to the call.
With this comprehensiveness, Os Guinness calls believers to total commitment to God. Calling them out of secularization (a topic that I enjoyed reading about from his perspective) and into Christianity, he does not make one’s calling as a believer easy. Without stepping over the line towards works-based salvation he appropriates obedience as an outpouring of love.
Perhaps the biggest struggle with the material presented is the use and citation of so many secular sources with little citation of Scripture or even Scripture-oriented resources. Guinness relies heavily upon examples, quotes, and thoughts from historical figures such as Dali, Picasso, Chesterton, and Einstein. At times he alludes to Scripture and he does attempt to direct people towards God, but there are few direction quotations and the secular sources heavily outweigh the biblical ones. This is unfortunate because, with so much possibility, this heavily detracts from the content of the book.
With the reliance on secular sources, I have to question the time the author spent researching and writing this book. Not only does he rely upon secular sources, but he often repeats the same sources as though to save time he pulled together a few resources that he had been working through at that moment. His reliance upon the same sources is accentuated by the propensity to unnecessarily expand on much of the content. For example, each chapter begins with an example story from the life of a well-known figure, but the story often continues or is supplemented with more examples and stories that are unnecessary. As a result, much of what was said could have been presented in a shorter framework.
I leave this book uncertain. Os Guinness has a way to reach people and there is much to learn from what is being shared in the book. Yet, at the same time, I lament that the author does not rely more upon the truth of Scripture and because of this, he never really clarifies what one’s call is and how he or she is apt to find it. It challenges one’s faith but does not provoke one’s faith. Therefore, readers are apt to learn from the book, but will likely be disappointed that they are still uncertain as to God’s call.
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If you are interested in The Call by Os Guinness, click here. Perhaps a better book (and shorter) for learning about God’s call is the book Is That You Lord? by Gary Gilley.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or any other person associated with this book and it is the direct result of my reading of it.

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