Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Living Without Worry

In his book Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, Timothy Lane hopes that the reader will see "a real person who needs help," (Kindle location 111), because he struggles with worry and needs daily encouragement and help.  The author acknowledges that non-Christians may be reading his book.  Even though he does not present the Gospel at this point, he does encourage the reader to "read what the Bible says about your life," (Kindle location 111).

Mr. Lane looks at Christ's Sermon on the Mount and asks those Christians who are prone to worry whether they are living for the Kingdom of God or for the world (Kindle location 219).  I found this area quite powerful as I analyzed what I truly focused on throughout the day and where I placed my hope.

In chapters 3 and 4 the author looks at how past sins and experiences may lead to current worry.  He states that "our angst over sin should always drive us to the cross, rather than to worry," (Kindle location 453).  Again, he acknowledges the non-Christian reader (Kindle location 438), but again he does not present the Gospel at this point.  In addition, he defines a non-Christian as "someone who has never truly asked Jesus, the Son of God, to take your sins, bear your judgment and experience your separation."  I disagree with Mr. Lane's soteriology that someone can 'accept Jesus into their heart'.  In Ephesians, God tells us that He chose His elect and predestinated them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5).  There is no offer of salvation in the Bible.  The call from John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, Peter, and Paul is to repent and believe.

Nevertheless, I think that the Mr. Lane provides an adequate Gospel presentation when he notes that the most basic problem is man's rebellion against God and that man is a sinner in need of forgiveness (Kindle location 550).  He goes on to say that God addressed this [rebellion] in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and through faith in Him sins are forgiven.  This is a clear Gospel message that should have been included when the author was specifically addressing non-Christians.

The author encourages prayer and Bible reading to combat sinful worry.  He specifically recommends biblical meditation on the book of Psalms (Kindle location 606).  Mr. Lane also looks to the power of the Holy Spirit within the believer, the promises of God in the Bible, and the encouragement of fellow believers as resources to combat anxiety.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by Living Without Worry, but chapter 10 raised some concerns.  First, the author describes the Apostle Paul as "struggling with anxiety", and declares that Paul, "like you, struggled with deep worry," (Kindle locations 1529 and 1543).  Mr. Lane also states that "Paul is no super-saint with whom you cannot identify.  No, he is just like you," (Kindle location 1536).  However, the Bible describes Paul as an apostle of Jesus Christ who preached the Gospel to the Gentiles and could work signs and wonders for the glory of God.  In addition, he is the most prolific writer of the New Testament.  No Christian is like the Apostle Paul.  Christians should not psycho-analyze any biblical figure, and we should not read ourselves into the text.  To support his claim that Paul struggled with anxiety, the author cites 1 Cor. 2:3; even so, this verse in context is talking about Paul's preaching of the Gospel.  Matthew Henry states that "He [Paul] did not affect [pretend] to appear a fine orator or a deep philosopher; nor did he insinuate himself into their minds, by a flourish of words, or a pompous show of deep reason and extraordinary science and skill."

Finally, Mr. Lane summarizes what he has presented and then quotes what he thinks God is actually saying to the reader and to the Apostle Paul (Kindle location 1565 and 1594).  Because the author is attempting to speak for God and even add to God's Word, he is providing extra-biblical revelation that is condemned by the Bible (Rev. 22:18).  In addition, it is not only presumptuous of the author, but also borderline blasphemous.

Therefore, I have mixed feelings about this book.  I really appreciated the in-depth look into worry and how the Bible addresses it.  Mr. Lane gives sound helps and biblical application.  Yet, his psycho-analysis of biblical characters and direct quotes of God outside of His Word are very concerning.  Thus, I cautiously recommend this book for the mature Christian who is struggling with excessive worry and anxiety, but it should be read with discernment.

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.