Let Faith Change Your Life. By Becky Tirabassi. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997), 171 pp. Cloth, $17.99.
The title drew me in: let faith change your life. You bet. I wanted to see what the author had to say about this important subject. My interest was piqued further by the many glowing endorsements from people like Steve Arterburn of the Minirth Meier New Life Clinics, Coach Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers, and Peggy Wehmeyer of ABC News.
The book, unfortunately, does not do a very good job of answering the expectation raised in the title. An examination of the Table of Contents shows that this is a popular/devotional book. The four subdivisions of the book—A Relevant Faith, A Relational Faith, A Radical Faith, and A Revolutionary Faith—are catchy, but lead one to wonder if the explanations will not be shallow. The individual chapter titles do nothing to allay this. For example, under the Section, “A Relevant Faith,” we find “Meets You Right Where You Are At!” “Meets Those Who Are Successful,” Meets Those Who Are Intellectual, “ “Meets Those Who Are Facing Death,” and “Meets Those with Misconceptions.” The actual text of the book confirms this fear. The book is long on interesting illustrations and short on meaningful insights.
This book does not appear to be designed to give the reader new insights into faith, saving faith, eternal salvation, or even progressive sanctification. (It is not until the last page of the last chapter [p. 167] that a definition of faith is even offered.) Rather, this is a motivational book in the positive mental attitude style popular in some quarters today.
How is one to let faith change his life? Tirabassi suggests that you should rejoice that God loves you (pp. 41-45), write out your prayers each day in a journal (pp. 49-52), have a daily one-hour appointment with God (pp. 47-75, esp. 52-54), and confess your sins to God (pp. 54-56). These are certainly important. However, what is said about these things keeps coming back to one thing—the importance of having an encounter with God. There is a decidedly experiential leaning of this book. Thus there should be no surprise that Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel and Robert Shuller’s Prayer: My Soul’s Adventure with God, are two of the books listed in the bibliography.
Finally, the JOTGES reader will be disappointed by the definitions of saving faith given at the end of the book. “Faith is a belief of the heart and the mind that the person of Jesus Christ lived and died for you, that He was resurrected and lives today” (p. 167, italics hers). “Faith is entering into a personal relationship with an unseen God. Faith completes you, infusing you with purpose for your life on earth and a promise for eternal life with God in heaven. It is supernatural. It is life-changing. It is not only a partnership with God, but also being part of the family of God. This faith brings great change into your life that has a good effect” (p. 167). This is far from clear. How does one know when he has exercised this “faith”? What is “a belief of the heart”? What is “supernatural” about saving faith? What specifically must one believe in order to be saved? The gospel is not clearly articulated in this book.
Let faith change your life? That is a super title and a great concept. However, this book fails to explain from a biblical standpoint either justification by faith alone or sanctification by faith working through love. Faith can indeed transform one’s life, but don’t look to this book for much help in discovering how it can.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society