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Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity Hardcover – December 22, 2009
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“Mark weaves us through the Great Commandment with insights that are both winsome and wise, piquing both curiosity and conviction. He calls us to a discipleship free of the trappings of shriveled self-concern, drawing us to give ourselves, with abandon, to others as we heed Jesus’ call to love God above all. This book will fuel clarity of call and persevering strength for those who will journey in obedience to the Gospel—in its wholeness of justice, mercy, and faithfulness—for a lifetime.”
—GARY HAUGEN, president and CEO of International Justice Mission and author of Good News About Injustice, Terrify No More, and Just Courage
“Too many of us are doing life at an unsustainable pace and losing sight of our first love. In his new book, Primal, Mark Batterson invites you to rediscover the reality of Christ and His passions. This book will challenge you, push you, and stretch you. You will walk away righteously aggravated, but catapulted into action.”
—CRAIG GROESCHEL, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv
“Mark, I’m with you. It’s time for believers to be more. Let’s hear the voice of God and be that holy, passionate fire that we are called to be. It’s the primal way.”
—SHAUN ALEXANDER, 2005 NFL MVP, acclaimed speaker, and author of award-winning book Touch Down Alexander
About the Author
The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. www.markbatterson.com
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I've read Mark Batterson's book," In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day," which was excellent. So, when I heard his new book was coming out and this publisher invited me to review it, I looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment. Below are my thoughts, positive and negative.
What I liked about this book:
...Its introductory story about his trip to Rome and his visit to the Church of San Clemente and the catacombs. Having been there, his contrast of the catacombs with the majestic cathedrals that followed, and our lost of focus got my attention.
...Other illustrations throughout the book from science, psychology, and history, were excellent.
...I liked his focus the Great Commandment and what it means to love God with all our heart (compassion), soul (wonder), mind (curiosity), and strength (energy).
What I didn't like about this book:
...His train of thought is hard to follow. When a writer makes a statement my expectation is that he will explain it, defend it, illustrate it, apply it, or something to that effect. Batterson doesn't do much of that. He often makes a statement and then follows it with another statement. I found myself asking, "Why?" a lot.
...There's a lot of repetition of thought. The book can be described as one thought, many pages.
If you are interested in a short book with good illustrations to use, then I would recommend it. If you are looking for new thoughts on Christianity or on how to teach the Greatest Commandment, then read something else, like N.T. Wright's, "Simply Jesus".
In Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, Mark breaks new ground by returning to the roots of our faith. We live in a complicated world, but the answer to many of our problems lies in a return to the simplicity of following the Great Commandment. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Here is how Mark describes the quest:
"The quest for the lost soul of Chrisitianity begins with rediscovering what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength ... It's not enough to love God with just your heart or soul or mind or strength. We are called, even commanded, to love Him in all four ways ...
The heart of Christianity is primal compassion
The soul of Christianity is primal wonder
The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity
And the strength of Christianity is primal energy"
I always read books like this with a highlighter in hand. There are so many great quotes and illustrations to capture and think through. I may be a little strange, but while reading, I keep coming up with new ideas for sermons and series that I could teach. There is so much here to meditate on, and I urge you to read it slowly. Mark is a story teller, and he is able to weave you into the story. I was challenged in the way that I love God, and I think you will be as well. I enjoyed his use and application of science and I enjoyed how he wove his life story into the book. I read through it in two days, and I want to read through it again. You can also find out more about the book at the official Primal website, [...]. Let me leave you with this challenge from the book.
"Do you love God for what He can do for you? Or do you love Him for who He is? In its purest, most primal form, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is loving God for God. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else ... Reformations are born out of rediscovering something ancient, something primal. They are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically reapplied to our lives."
Answering the question is not as easy.
"Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?" asks author and pastor Mark Batteron in his third book, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. It's not a question that is easily answered by me, or most of us, for that matter. But it's a question that lies at the heart of this book, as Batterson strips the Christian faith to these four elements: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power.
How can I show compassion and shower others with generosity?
Do I truly comprehend the majesty and beauty of the world in which I live?
Am I willing to continue to learn, both spiritually and intellectually?
Do I understand what I am capable of doing if I call upon the strength of God?
These are the questions that Batterson asks in Primal - and he answers them both with Scripture and with examples from science and history. Each represent how we fulfill the Great Commandment to love God: with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. After all, the way we choose to live our lives should begin with loving God first, and Batterson shows us ways in which we can do that in our lives. For the way to change the world is to begin by changing the way we live ourselves, retreating back to the Father who created us by loving Him first.
For instance, in the chapter called "Holy Curiosity", Batterson writes:
"There is an indivisible linkage between loving God with all your soul and loving God with all your mind. Wonder and curiosity are spiritual cousins. When the soul stops wondering, the mind stops learning. And vice versa...when you stop learning, you start dying intellectually. But the spiritual implications are more profound than that. When you stop learning, you stop loving. Why? Because loving is learning more and more about the one you love. True love is never satisfied. It always wants to know more about the object of its affection. The more you love God, the more curious you become. When it comes to loving God with all your mind, curiosity is both the cause and the effect."
Batterson challenges us to see the hand of God in all our lives - there is not one aspect of our lives in which God does not play a role, and exhibiting a sense of wonder and curiosity draws us closer to Him. We get to know more about God, and get to know God more, as we learn about the world that He created.
Do you want to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? This book will assist you on that journey, helping to unpack what that statement in Scripture means. The Christian faith is due for yet another change, another reformation, as Batterson refers to it, and that reformation will begin with you and in you.
Definitely check it out. It's worth your time.