The opinions and views set forth in this blog post are entirely mine. If there is a serious argument with the author of the book, I will attempt to address it in a fair, sympathetic, and yet truthful manner. You are welcome to comment on the book review but be sure to do so in the same fair, sympathetic, and truthful manner espoused by my review. Please avoid personal comments, gossip, and slander as they have no place on my blog. Thank you and enjoy the review!
The Healing Path
by Dan B. Allender
There are few things in life which can affect our present and future like the past; the past is often a good indicator of how we will respond to current and soon-to-be-current circumstances. This is true, unless of course we deal with the hurts and failures which have defined the past. Dan B. Allender in The Healing Path seeks to take us on a journey of healing; a journey that takes us to the three cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and love. I have read a lot of books on how to get over or get through or get passed the past, but few have been as thoroughly biblical and backed by experience as THP.
THP is divided into four distinct sections each discussing four subjects: suffering, evil’s intentions, redemption, and embracing redemptive relationships. Each of these sections has three chapters that revolve around the subjects of the section (e.g. “Exposing the Intentions of Evil” includes the chapters of “Betrayal and the Loss of Faith,” “Powerlessness and the Loss of Hope,” and “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love”). While the vocabulary is mostly on a popular level (though at an educated popular level), there are a few times where he surprises the reader with an unfamiliar term. I think this personally adds enjoyment to the work rather than takes away from it. (+1 Star)
Allender has a clear purpose when writing THP: he wants us to enjoy the redemptive reclamation of the faith, hope, and love that the enemy has stolen from us. He follows this purpose by communicating it in the following thesis statement: “My premise is that doubt, despair, and disappointment are not only a reality of daily life, they are also the tools God uses to grow faith, hope, and love in us. If we run from what we fear or find displeasurable, we actually rob ourselves of the joy God intends for us to experience as we walk through our past, play with our future, and live now with new passion.” (pg. x) Though the journey is long and often thick, Allender eventually leads us to this destination, effectively keeping to the mission of the work without getting distracted or turning back. (+1 Star)
The substance of THP is biblical without being over the top with Scripture. There are some books on this subject that read more like a “how-to” manual or a theology textbook rather than a personal, intimate journey. Centering our pain and disappointment around a loss of faith, hope, and love; then centering the redemption of these in Jesus Christ is one of the major implications of the Gospel for us broken sinners. That God wants us to run with him to, and not against him away from our problems is a major paradigm shift in our Western thinking on suffering; a shift which is much more biblical than we would like to admit. The truth that doubt, despair, and disappointment are not hindrances but secret graces that God uses to lead us back to himself, forces us to look at our past and present differently, so we can have a more joyous and redemptive future. But lest we think Allender is completely individualistic, the final section of THP is designed around taking this redemption and spreading it to others, forming a community that takes the wager of faith, dreams of hope, and lives out the dance of love. (+1 Star)
Allender is incredibly personal as he hashes out his thesis; not so much in a sentimental way as in a raw fashion. You get to see Allender mostly at his worst in stories; he leaves no doubt that he is not the guru of the healing path but a fellow sojourner. While a tad self-deprecating at times, Allender tells stories that open us up to the ideas of faith, hope, and love, and how to communicate that with loved ones and even complete strangers. The tales are often heart-wrenching, ranging from sexual abuse to the loss of childhood dreams. Each story though, adds and does not take away from Allender’s work. (+1 Star)
THP is not the first book written about the subject of suffering and redemption, but there is something unique about the perspective of Allender which sets his book apart from the rest. I felt as if I were being healed as I was reading the book; as if the book itself was a step down the healing path. I have read a lot of books on this subject, but none have rang with the experience and truth that are married in this work. (+1 Star)
As a child I was physically and emotionally abused by many people; as an adult I have had to deal with the difficult pain of the betrayal of brothers and sisters of whom I once was in fellowship. To say that I am still working through the bad experiences and pain of my past would be an understatement. The Healing Path is not the first step on the path of redemption, but for me it has been the next step. If you want to revive faith, hope, and love in your life you have to confront the betrayal, the hopelessness, and the ambivalence that has characterized your life in light of the redemptive work of God; one of the first steps may be reading this book.
1 Star – Don’t waste your money.
2 Star– Only get it if it is on sale.
3 Star – Think about buying it.
4 Star – Save up and purchase it.
5 Star – You MUST have it, TODAY.