Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Prayers for New Brides

In her book Prayers for New Brides: Putting on the Armor After the Wedding Dress, Jennifer White states that her book is what she would share with the reader if they could sit together and talk about marriage (Kindle location 173).  This book has 40 short chapters that conclude with prayer prompts and calls to action for the wife.

As Mrs. White looks back on her experiences with her first failed marriage and with the struggles in her current marriage, she realizes that the "union of marriage is God's design," (Kindle location 293).  She wants the reader to "allow this book to expose you to what God says about you, your spouse, and your marriage," (Kindle location 433).

The author identifies areas of conflict within a marriage and looks at the biblical duties of wife including respect of and submission to her husband found in Ephesians 5.  Her advice generally goes back to prayer and reading/studying God's Word.

While Mrs. White's general advice of prayer and Bible reading is good, I have concerns with her view of Satan.  I agree with her view that "[s]piritual warfare is a reality," (Kindle location 285).  Christians do wrestle against principalities, powers, and the rulers of darkness in this world," (Eph. 6:12).  However, the author sets up a false dichotomy between God and Satan.  Her writing portrays a dualistic philosophy that views good and evil as two equal forces.  This is seen in her book when she writes: "He [Satan] is a spiritual force that is in direct competition with God," (Kindle location 410) and "God has been very aware of Satan's plan to keep you away from the great life and marriage He designed for you," (Kindle location 522).

From the article "God's Devil" at ligioner.org, we read:

"Though He [God] created the Devil, God is not in any way culpable for evil... Still, we know our Creator cannot be tempted with evil, nor can He ever tempt anyone (James 1:13).  That Satan is a creature means he is subject to the Lord, who uses him to fulfill His good purposes (Rom. 8:28). In the final analysis, the Devil is God’s Devil (to summarize Martin Luther) and never operates outside the Lord’s decree."

Next, the author also presents a view of Open Theism (the unorthodox view that though God is omniscient, He does not know what man will freely do in the future).  She writes: "The Holy Spirit resides within you and can act as a force field to the ideas that could result in your missing God's well-planned good life for you," (Kindle location 658) and "Let's acknowledge that her [Eve's] choice to lead was outside the will of God.  It opened the door to a host of marital devastions that God did not intend for any of us," (Kindle location 1595).  God is sovereign.  He has declared the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10-11) and His eternal purpose is unchangeable (Eph. 3:11).  Therefore, nothing that man does can thwart the will of God.

Finally, Mrs. White gives a false sense of hope that a marriage will be prosperous and full if her advice is followed.  She states:
  • "That is the God of your marriage.  Always victorious in the lives of those who show up, surrender, and salute Him as their authority," (Kindle location 603).
  • "But God, the designer of your life, created you with great plans to protect you," (Kindle location 616).
  • "He [God] will prepare you for every battle against division and divorce," (Kindle location 789).
  • "Sovereign God who planned an abundant life for you is still there to  help you enjoy it regardless of the evil around you.  He promises that choosing His way will make you prosperous and successful (Deuteronomy 29:9, Joshua 1:8)," (Kindle location 1978).
So if Mrs. White had just surrendered authority to God and choose His way rather than her own, she would not be divorced from her first marriage right now.  Obviously, that's not the case because providentially she's married to her second husband.  Regardless of the difficulties that the author has encountered, everything has happened according to God's will.  Even if she had 'surrendered to God as her authority' during her first marriage, she would still be divorced and remarried now because nothing that she might have done differently in the past would have changed the present reality that God ordained.  The Apostle Peter tells Christians that they will suffer trials in their lives (1 Peter 1:7, 4:12).  These trials may come even if the Christian prays, reads the Bible, and obeys God's commandments.  Jesus Christ Himself tells us that Christians will have trouble in this world, but we should still be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 6:33).

Overall, I am not comfortable with the doctrinal errors in Prayers for New Brides.  I am also disappointed with Mrs. White's endorsement of Beth Moore's Bible studies and Joyce Meyer's TV programs (Kindle location 1031), as well as books written by Gary Thomas (Kindle location 1521) and Mark Batterson (Kindle location 1538).  While popular, these modern "Christian" writers do not convey sound, orthodox Christian doctrine.  Therefore, I do not recommend Prayers for New Brides for any Christian, but I would recommend William Gouge's Domestical Duties for anyone who wants to study the biblical roles of husband and wife.

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