***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tim Grissom constructed the 12-week Bible study titled Seeking Him: Experiencing The Joy Of Personal Revival. This is the first book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers this year. After taking a brief hiatus from book-reviewing, I decided to review this book that has, according to the “MPNewsroom” website, sold over 400,000 copies. Because of the high number of copies this book has sold, it is important to see whether or not what it has to offer is in alignment with the Word of God.
Before I get into the content and structure of this book, it is worth noting the people that endorsed this book. Sadly, some of the more prominent heretics, false teachers and Gospel compromisers endorse this book. This includes but is not limited to Jackie Hill Perry, Tony Evans, Greg Laurie, Kay Arthur, Crawford W. Loritts Jr., and Mark Jobe. Despite that alarming list of endorsements, that alone is not reason enough to either affirm or reject this book. Regardless of who affirms or rejects any book, an analysis of the content should always be considered if not outright performed.
Structure-wise, this book has an introduction and brief sections about both how to get the most out of this study and how to lead a church through this study (pp. viii-xv). Twelve lessons follow (pp. 1-252). Weirdly, a section on suggestions for group leaders immediately follows lesson twelve (pp. 253-256). Given that this book seems to be designed for both interaction and leading a church through the study, it would have made more sense to put that section before the sections on the lessons. After all, it would have better equipped the group leaders for the twelve lessons before they started instead of afterwards. Finally, some pages of acknowledgements and information about the authors conclude this book (pp. 257-259).
In the introduction, the authors try to sell the reader on the idea of experiencing personal revival (p. viii). They define revival as “what happens when God’s people, whether individually or corporately, are restored to a right relationship with Him. Revival is a supernatural work of God — it is not something we can manufacture or package” (p. ix). In defining this word, they use no biblical texts for support. This is basically their own manmade definition. Already I have a problem; not only are these authors trying to sell me something, but they do not even appeal to either a historical Bible teaching or the Word of God itself in their selling points. Instead, it is their own manmade doctrine.
One thing I did appreciate was the authors’ clear design for the study. I went through this book in about three weeks. According to the authors, however, the design of the study is to be twelve weeks or longer (p. xiii). Furthermore, the study is ideally more for small groups than it is for individuals (p. xiii). However, an individual can still discover why no group should partake in this study (more on that later).
It should be noted that this study was originally released in 2004 (p. xv). Furthermore, it appears many a church leader used this study “as a combined, church-wide experience” (p. xv). Given that, it is definitely important to see what the contents of this study offer.
As mentioned earlier, this book has twelve lessons. Each lesson has six elements. Furthermore, these elements are spread over the course of five days (presumably for a Monday-Friday format). Here are the elements (pp. xiii-xiv):
Going Deeper In The Word – This is a sidebar feature that contains various Bible passages for the reader to read. A memory verse is featured right above it.
Faith-Builder Story – Covering day one, these “inspirational, true” stories (albeit subjective) are meant to acquaint the reader with the theme of the lesson.
Truth Encounter – Covering days 2-4, this section aims to help one grow in the “understanding of the heart and ways of God” via the study of Bible passages related to the lesson.
Making It Personal – Covering day five, this section contains questions meant to engage the reader in “personal reflection and response.”
Seeking Him Together – This section contains questions meant to “guide group discussion and prayer time.”
Memory Verses, Key Points, Tips, Insights and Quotes – This is sidebar information throughout the lesson. This consists of background information, quotes and Bible verses.
From a structure standpoint, I cannot argue with this format: it provides clarity, it provides order, and it makes the study easy to do. “Bible studies” that provide order, clarity, and simplicity can be effective if the content is good
Speaking of content, this book absolutely suffers in that category. First, the Bible passages in this book are often ripped out of context. Second, the questions in this study are atrocious. For example, in day two of the first lesson, the reader is instructed to read Hosea 10:12-13 (p. 5). There is already a problem because context would demand the reader start at Hosea 4:1 in that particular section. After the Scripture reading, the reader is then asked in regards to Hosea 10:12, “What do you think it means to ‘break up your fallow ground’” (p. 6). This type of question invites all kinds of potential errors to arise. One must understand that truth is outside of us. Truth is in the Scriptures (John 17:17; see also 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 12:6 and Malachi 3:6). Therefore, the question shouldn’t be, “what do you think it means to break up your fallow ground.” Rather, the question should be, “what does that verse mean?” Sadly, this instance is not in a vacuum in this book; this type of thing (be it out-of-context passages, awful questions, or even narcigesis and passages with unnecessary omissions) occurs throughout the book (pp. 26, 28, 30, 86, 106, 108, 130, 133, 136, 145, 167, 173-174, 220).
Another problem with this book involves its sixth element. The memory verses this element features are often out of context. Furthermore, the authors could have done a much better job in who they quoted. While not every source quoted was a bad one (Voddie Baucham, C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, Jonathan Edwards and C.H. Spurgeon being some of the better non-Bible sources the authors quoted to name a few), there is no excuse for quoting such compromisers, false teachers, hirelings and the like such as Jackie Hill Perry, Francis Chan, Rosaria Butterfield, Greg Laurie, Roy Hession, Jen Wilken, Tony Evans, Tim Keller, Blll Bright and David Jeremiah, (pp. 9, 33, 39, 49, 67, 71, 91, 99, 135, 142, 153, 209, 221, 230).
I really hope that the 400,000+ people that purchased this book recognize this book for what it’s worth; it’s a book with little discernment, some to much irreverence for the Word of God and bogus questions that should not be asked or encouraged in any Bible study. I hope people understand that amount of copies sold for a book don’t automatically make the book a good one. One would be wise to refrain from using this book in a Bible study, much less a church-wide experience.