***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***
Gary Chapman’s God Speaks Your Love Language: How To Experience And Express God’s Love represents the fifth book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers this year. I chose this book as the next one to review for Moody Publishers because according to the back cover, this book has sold over 200,000 copies. A book that has sold that many copies is certainly worthy of a review.
For structure, this book has an introduction and ten chapters. The introduction is titled “The Divine Lover.” Chapman states, “If God is the divine lover, why do not all His creatures feel His love?” (p. 11). I have a problem with this “divine lover” language. No text verbatim states God is the divine lover. Moreover, the verbiage “divine lover” has these erotic overtones, and that is just disgusting. Chapman, interestingly enough, does not hammer away at that concept either in the introduction or throughout the book (at least verbatim). He does give the book’s purpose in this introduction, though (p. 13):
The purpose of this book is to bring people closer to God so they can first feel His limitless love and then reflect it to more effectively love others. To love and to be loved — what could be more important?
Already, I’m having some issues with this book. Chapman seems to place heavy emphasis on feelings (more on that later). Moreover, Chapman seems to present the hypothesis that the most important thing is to love and be loved. However, that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to have one’s sins forgiven. This starts with the understanding that by default, one is born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains (NASB):
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9).
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48).
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9).
Thankfully, Jesus came to solve the sin problem over 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. If you get nothing else out of this review, please understand how you can repent and be forgiven.
Chapman, an author, speaker, pastor and counselor, goes on to state that this book is not intended to be a religious book (p. 13). His audience consists of those who do believe in God and those who do not believe in God (p. 13). I shall let Chapman explain (p. 13):
If you believe in God and would like to be more loving toward those closest to you, then this book can help. If you don’t believe in God but are willing to consider the opinion of someone who does, I invite you on a journey. I will make every effort to respect your position while I share my own beliefs as clearly as I can.
I explain the significance of this above paragraph shortly.
What Chapman hopes to do in this book “is share what I have learned about love during many years of marriage and family counseling” (p. 17). In other words, the reader is going to get heavy doses of Chapman’s own personal experiences as he seeks to bring people closer to God in a feelings-based way. I comment on the significance of this later in this review.
It is important to understand that Chapman is the author behind the popular Five Love Languages book series (p. 12). Apparently, Chapman’s clinical research revealed that a variety of love languages exists (p. 12). Chapman draws from these supposed love languages throughout the book.
In the first chapter, I am already having an issue. Recall that Chapman stated that his audience consists of those who in believe and God and those who do not believe in God (p. 13). Now consider the introductory paragraph to this chapter (p. 19):
Before we look more deeply at just how the all-powerful God who loves us can communicate with each of us in our own love language — and how we can experience Him in the same way — I want to help you understand those languages. For some, this will be a refresher, for others a new concept.
Chapman already made clear that it is possible that he is writing to both those who do believe in God and those who do not believe in God. If he was writing strictly to Christians, I would not have an issue. However, he is writing to both believers and non-believers.
Consider what the psalmist says in Psalm 5:1-6 (NASB):
Listen to my words, Lord,
Consider my sighing.
2 Listen to the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
3 In the morning, Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch.
4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil can dwell with You.
5 The boastful will not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do injustice.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
The Lord loathes the person of bloodshed and deceit.
The Bible says the LORD hates those who do injustice (5:5). Moreover, He will destroy those who speak lies (5:6). Revelation 20:8 (NKJV) states that all the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, idolaters and liars will have their part in the lake of of fire. If Chapman is writing to a mixed audience, why is he coming out the gate by stating “God who loves us” when the Bible is clear that consequences await the unrepentant sinner who remains dead in his/her sins? This is inexcusably reckless language from Chapman. While Chapman did state earlier that he did not intend for this book to be a religious book, why is he using language that is completely relevant to the Christian religion throughout this book?
Because this book comes out the gate with problems, I list four problems with this book (there are more) outside of what I have pointed out somewhat at length.
First, this book is heavy on subjectivity. Throughout this book, Chapman uses language that pertain to the subjective. This includes using language pertaining to feelings, sensing, experiencing, etc. (pp. 33, 36-37, 42, 51-52, 65, 84, 92-99, 111-121, 124, 128, 134, 140-142, 158, 163-178, 183). Earlier this year, I reviewed a timeless classic called Christianity and Liberalism. Here are some paragraphs to consider:
The Christian gospel consists in an account of how God saved man, and before that gospel can be understood, something must be known (1) about God and (2) about man. The doctrine of God and the doctrine of man are the two great presuppositions of the gospel. With regard to these presuppositions, as with regard to the gospel itself, modern liberalism is diametrically opposed to Christianity.
It is opposed to Christianity, in the first place, in its conception of God. But at this point we are met with a particularly insistent form of that objection to doctrinal matters which has already been considered. It is unnecessary, we are told, to have a “conception” of God; theology, or the knowledge of God, it is said, is the death of religion; we should not seek to know God, but should merely feel His presence.
With regard to this objection, it ought to be observed that if religion consists merely in feeling the presence of God, it is devoid of any moral quality whatever. Pure feeling, if there be such a thing, is non-moral.
Chapman’s book is absolutely littered with language emphasizing feeling the presence of God. Is it possible that what Chapman is promoting and endorsing is subjectivity and subtle liberalism instead of biblical Christianity? It’s certainly something to consider in light of the language that dominates Chapman’s book.
Speaking of language that dominates Chapman’s book, there were two other noticeable things about the language he uses.
First, for some reason, Chapman must be allergic to the word “Christian.” Over and over I saw him specifically refer to Christians simply as “followers of Jesus”, “believers of Jesus” or some similar language (pp. 46, 70, 96, 103, 106, 112, 161, 180, 189). In a lot of sermons I have listened to from the seeker-driven movement, the term “Christ-follower” is heavily used. Why is that an issue, you ask? Well, saying the term “Christ-follower” (or “followers of Jesus”, etc.) is a little problematic. Think of it this way: Do Muslims say they’re Mohammad-followers? Do Mormons say they’re Joseph-Smith followers? Do Buddhists say they’re Buddha-followers? Christianity is a “done” religion (and a falsifiable one at that). Those other religions are “do” religions (and works save nobody; see Romans, Galatians 1-5, Ephesians 2:1-10, etc.). The word “Christian” is not a bad word (see Acts 11:19-26).
The second noticeable thing as it pertains to language is the frequent use of the phrase “love relationship” (pp. 53, 67, 132-133, 138, 156, 176-177). I’ve seen heavy use of this phrase before; I noticed it when reviewing the narcissistic, Bible-twisting, sufficiency-of-Scripture-denying (more on that concept later) mess of a book called Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. While Chapman neither cites nor mentions Blackaby, it wouldn’t shock me if Blackaby’s influence bled into this book. After all, consider the title of Chapman’s book; it is God Speaks Your Love Language: How To Experience And Express God’s Love. Does this title not place an emphasis on experiencing God in some way? This is something to think about.
While the above two noticeable things are nowhere near as much a problem as the flood of subjective and liberal-sounding language that runs far more amuck, they were problems in the sense that they were a distraction in this book.
For the second overall weakness in this book (separate from the first weakness pertaining to language), every chapter in this book in some way, shape or form pertains to the five love languages that Chapman, by his own admission, constructed from his own clinical research. Where are these five love languages in church history? Which church fathers taught these? What biblical texts in context show verbatim these five love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch)? That answer is nowhere. Despite that fact, Chapman tries to argue that “the crucifixion of Jesus was a time when God clearly spoke all five love languages” (pp. 191-192, 200; bolding done by me):
From the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” What affirming words could speak more deeply of love?15
In his death, Jesus performed his greatest act of service as He reconciled sinful humanity to the holy God.16
He offered gifts of inestimable value: forgiveness of sins and eternal life.17
His gifts provided the opportunity for people to have an intimate relationship with God by spending quality time with the Creator, both now and forever.
And it was on the cross where God touched humanity at our point of deepest need and said, “I love you!” Here Jesus fulfilled His promise: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.18
15. Luke 23:34
16. See Colossians 1:21-22
17. See John 3:16-18; 1 John 1:9
18. John 10:11
Notice that Chapman both takes various passages out of context and strings them together (like macaroni) to try and prove his point. One can really do that with any number of passages to really support anything he wants. If you don’t believe me, that is fine. I would ask that you consider listening to the archived podcast episodes of Pastor Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting For The Faith program. He has reviewed a plethora of bad sermons that have featured a plethora of ways that so-called pastors have twisted the Scriptures. For a book that is allegedly not religious, Chapman sure does appeal to a religious book (the Bible) a lot (religious in the sense that the Bible is of the Christian religion). This “five love languages” concept is really a “Johnny-come-lately” concept that specializes in the subjective. Chapman’s eisegesis and macaroni-string method of citing Scripture to prove his point is not helpful here.
Third, Chapman tacitly denies the sufficiency of Scripture in this book. He does this when discussing an anecdotal story of a person named Monique. Here is the relevant text (pp. 173-174):
As an author, I was greatly encouraged by Monique’s story. However, what she said next was even more encouraging. “Not only that,” she said, “but sometime later, I was reading the gospel of Matthew and kept noticing the number of times Jesus touched people: the blind, lepers, the crippled. As clearly as it could be, I heard God say to me, ‘ It pleases Me when you reach out and touch people. You are my hands.’ I had heard preachers say that before, but I never really heard it until that day. I asked God to change my heart and mind and give me a desire to touch people. I thought of the many times I have been in the nursing home where my mother lives. The residents lined the hallways in their wheelchairs, and I never stopped to talk and touch them.
This positive inclusion of the above story is a tacit denial of Sola Scriptura. It is important to understand that God’s Word is all true, all powerful and without error (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 12:6; John 17:17; Titus 1:2). Furthermore, it equips the believer for every good work, for it is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-9). Scripture is sufficient. Scripture alone is one’s authority for the faith and practice of a Christian. Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB) states:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB)
Who is “His Son”? That would be Jesus Christ, God in human flesh (John 1:1-14). Jesus is the Word incarnate. Moreover, He has already revealed all the Christian needs to know as it pertains to life and godliness. We do not need claims of direct revelation from God. Such a thing denies the sufficiency of Scripture. Chapman’s denial of Sola Scriptura via the subtle approval of a person’s direct revelation from God cannot be ignored.
You might be saying, “But wait, she was reading the Gospel of Matthew when she made that claim.” That is true. Here’s something to consider, though: when people claim direct revelation from God, do they ever explain what God’s voice sounds like? Do they state it is loud? Do they state it is quiet? Do they state His voice has an accent? Do they state His voice is pitchy? I’m not saying God cannot speak outside of Scripture. Why does He need to when we have His written Word? Why do we need these claims of direct revelation? Why can’t Scripture alone be sufficient for these folk? Why do these claims of direct revelation seemingly need to be added to it? Finally, why can’t these people with these claims give even the slightest bit of information of what the voice sounds like? When one denies Sola Scriptura, practically anything goes. This is something to think about.
Fourth, in the last chapter, Chapman places much emphasis on the phrase “God connection” (pp. 182-183, 186-189). This issue could have easily been stuck under the first issue of this book that pertained to language. Chapman even said that the apostle Paul made the “God connection.” Those two words in sequence don’t appear anywhere in Scripture. Chapman seems to suggest that making the God connection is part of making a full commitment to Christ. Consider the following two paragraphs (p. 186):
If you are encountering these ideas for the first time, I know they seem to be incredible. But I know also that because you are made in God’s image and because God loves you, there is something within your spirit that affirms, “Yes, this is truth.” Acting on this response allows you to make the God connection. The words you say to God are unimportant, but the heart cry of many believers is something like this: “Lord, I find it difficult to believe that You love me so much, but I open my heart to You. I want to accept Your forgiveness. I thank You that Christ has paid my penalty. I invite Your Spirit into my life. I want my life to be a channel of Your love. I give myself to You forever.”
Thousands of people from cultures around the globe have made that kind of response to God and by so doing have found love and life forever. Through the lives of those individuals, the love of God is spoken in all five love languages around the world in every generation. One by one, people continue to respond to the love of God and commit their lives to walking with Him.
While Chapman does give some decent language in this book regarding repentance, faith and the forgiveness of sins (pp. 33, 40-41, 86, 104), things like the above two paragraphs somewhat convolute the good language. The heart cry he provides above (I do not believe it to be a sinner’s prayer) puts more emphasis on the person’s commitment rather than what has already been done for the person. The Gospel isn’t you giving your life to Jesus; the Gospel is what Christ has done for you (see 1 Corinthians 15). Also, which church fathers placed heavy emphasis on the phrase “God connection”? This is something to think about.
Chapman’s book is a mess. It’s far from the worst product I have read. However, the language is so problematic and liberal-sounding that I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone. Moreover, his affirming of both direct revelation from God and subjectivity (especially the latter) leave the reader chasing his/her subjective tails revolving around the manmade, Johnny-come-lately concept of the five love languages. Stay away from this book.
NOTE: I tweeted my review, tagging Chapman in it. I couldn’t find a way to email him this directly. Apparently he is a busy guy.