Friday, May 6, 2011

A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards--audio

A Tale of Three Kings, by Gene Edwards, is a book primarily dealing with the author's perceived proper response to attacks on your person or on your ministry. The audio version, which was supplied me from ChristianAudio for review, was read by Paul Michael, who does an excellent job narrating.

The book deals with the lives of three kings, Saul, David, and Absalom, and how they dealt with conflict in their lives. Edwards takes the framework of the biblical narrative and fills in the gaps with great imagination. Any time I encounter extra-biblical imaginative fiction, I cringe. The scene early in the book where David is playing his harp and kills the bear with his slingshot doesn't seem to fit the biblical description of David delivering a lamb out of the mouth of the bear. It just seems an inherent trap in biblical fiction to legendize elements of the story.

Where this book really fails is its attempt to flip-flop between fiction and exhortation. For example, chapters 1-3 are colorful fiction about David and his rise to Saul's court, but then chapters 4 and beyond try to take the spear-throwing episode and exhort the reader to apply the vague truth of spear-throwing. It's quite a stretch and really unclear. Chapter 12 starts the fiction-exhortation cycle again... It's a disaster. Edwards would have been better off to focus on allegorical fiction and allow the reader to draw his own conclusions. The back-and-forth throughout the book is distracting and really breaks the flow of the book.

Overall, I would NOT recommend this book to anyone.

The Radical Disciple by John Stott--audio

The Radical Disciple, by John Stott, is divided into 8 chapters covering different aspects of discipleship: non-conformity, Christ-likeness, maturity, creation-care, simplicity, balance, dependence, and death. The audio version, which was supplied to me by ChristianAudio for review, is read by Grover Gardener. In my opinion, his narration style is perfect for this type of book.

Stott does a fantastic job of articulating real abandonment in the pursuit of Christ. His chapters on non-conformity, balance, and death alone made the book worth reading. The problem with listening to an audio version is that there are so many quotable sentences that I found myself wishing for a hard copy to refer back to. Because of Stott's style, there are also sentences where a hard copy would have been useful in order to stop and dissect sentences and spend some time contemplating them.

There are two critiques I would offer for the book. 1) The chapter on creation-care seems to push the limits toward environmentalism (though it could be just my reaction to our current culture's fascination with "global warming"). He makes some good statements, and I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, but the extent to which he takes the subject feels a bit too much. 2) The chapter on simplicity left me a little disappointed. He highlights materialism earlier in the book, stating that he'll deal with it more in-depth in the chapter on simplicity, but instead of some type of biblical exegesis (where Stott excels) he re-prints a statement from the International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle. Stott easily could have done so much more with that chapter.

Overall, I would recommend the book, if nothing more than for those excellent chapters I mentioned above.