Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child.By John Bradshaw. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. 288 pp. Cloth, $18.95.
This is not a Christian book. However, it is a book being read by many Christians and which certainly presents itself as a spiritual book. For these reasons, I believe it deserves a review.
As one who grew up in an alcoholic home and has read much on this subject, I find some value in this book. The case histories often hit home with me. So, too, did a number of the suggestions on how to slow down and relax. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this book are far outweighed by the negatives.
One school of thought in psychology today suggests that in order to overcome childhood pain and abuse we must go back and relive the experiences. Bradshaw sees this as absolutely essential if growth is to take place.
To accomplish this Bradshaw suggests a series of meditation/imagery exercises. I was uncomfortable with the exercises. There is a definite New Age flavor to them (e.g., pp. 219, 258-61) that most Christians will find unsettling. By the end of the book we are told to ask our “inner guide” what our purpose in life is (pp. 258–61)!
Several other cautions are in order. First, the book is filled with very explicit sexual language.
Second, Bradshaw espouses the view held by many in psychology today that homosexuality is not abnormal or sinful, rather it is a matter of “biological predisposition” (p. 126).
Third, the author rejects an evangelical view of the Gospel. He implies that there is no hell (pp. 26, 45-46). And he considers the following remark he heard a preacher make as an example of “abuse at church”: “‘You can’t be good enough to be acceptable in the eyes of God.”‘ Bradshaw responds, “What a terrible affront to God the Creator” (p. 46; see also pp. 177–78, 189).
Fourth, Bradshaw considers premarital sex to be normal and healthy, not sinful, for adolescents and adults (pp. 162, 165, 234–35).
Fifth, the biblical concept of spiritual regeneration by faith in Christ is replaced with psychological regeneration by connecting with one’s “essential self” (pp. 252–65). The latter is achieved by imagery which culminates in one’s “inner guide” revealing one’s purpose in life (pp. 258–61).
Sixth, for Bradshaw absolute truth can only be found by getting in touch with one’s inner child (e.g., pp. 234–35). Even then, it is only true for that individual. This sort of thinking leads him to do things like encourage an evangelical Christian wife and mother to listen to her inner child and divorce her loving and devoted husband (p. 283).
Unfortunately, then, despite some good content in places, this is definitely not a book I can recommend reading.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society