Imagine I told you this is a review about the forthcoming book Rooted, by Banning Liebscher (founder and pastor of Jesus Culture)--then I wrote a lot about other books, only casually mentioning Rooted, coming back to it occasionally to make a point or use an illustration. Say I spoke in generalities, told you a lot about myself, and interacted very little with much of the book. How would you feel?
You'd feel like I did actually reading Rooted.
The promise of what to expect comes on pages 12-13:
The purpose of this book is to look at Scripture and learn what to expect as God works to establish deep roots in you.... As we journey together through this book, we are going to study the life of David and look at the different elements God developed in his root system during nearly two decades of process and preparation.
Those elements were to be summed up in three different soils: intimacy, service, and community--so I was excited. With the life of David as the backdrop, the words of Colossians 2:6-7 were on my mind: "Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."
My excitement dwindled rapidly though, as Rooted became a test of managing unmet expectations. I expected a book about discipleship, about the way God grows a person, as he did David. I expected a book about faithfulness, spiritual disciplines, serving, and being in community with others--and the way God uses those to grow a person's maturity in Christ.
What I got was a book about how God prepares us to bear the weight of our destiny, position ourselves for God to release grace to us, and root us in these different ways so we can have a vision for making a lasting impact in the world. Maybe it's because I don't speak Charismatic, but I had a hard time tracking on these parts. Interestingly, on page 88-89, the author says,
Truth is not rooted in our feelings or opinions, but in Scripture.... I don't want to know what you think God would or wouldn't do. I want to know what Scripture says."
A few times in the book, he affirms the Bible as our authority and rejects opinions and feelings as authoritative, but in other places--against his own admonition--makes statements about what God does or how he works, with no biblical proof, using language and expressions not found in the Bible. One such is on pages 107-108:
There are certain things God wants to release to you that He will only give you in the secret place.... There is an anointing that is found only in one place. You can go to as many conferences as you want, but you will not find it there. God reserves certain things to be found only in the secret place alone with Him.
To which I simply responded, show me; what does Scripture say?
As with any book, there were morsels of goodness such as the section titled, "The Test of Sacrifice," which was about the manner in which we serve others, and how to test if our serving is about us or about the glory of God in meeting others' needs. But the morsels were small and far between. I would not recommend this book to many people, especially others like myself, unfamiliar with Jesus Culture, and their own culture and vocabulary. There are simply too many other books comparable in size that set out to accomplish the same goal, namely preparing a person to be rooted, built up in the Word, and prepared for a life that glorifies God--and accomplish that goal with much more clarity and depth.