Stress Fractures. Biblical Splints for Everyday Pressures. By Charles R. Swindol. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1990. 273 pp. Paper, $10.99.
In the introduction to Stress Fractures, Swindol states that “this book has some answers [to stress fractures] that cannot fail to bring you relief” (p. 12). He draws an analogy between physical stress fractures (the gradual breaking of a bone due to stress) and psychological stress fractures. But he does not discuss in detail what exactly is meant by “stress fractures.” The question goes largely unanswered.
In the first several chapters Swindol gives some helpful biblical illustrations of stress situations and how they were remedied. Moses’ implementation of his father-in-law Jethro’s advice to delegate his work load was to the point. So was the incident of Mary and Martha serving Jesus.
After the first few chapters I fully expected the author to delve into the more serious consequences of physical/emotional/psychological stress in modern society (drugs, rock, suicide, heart disease, deep emotional injuries, criminal offenses, etc.). Instead, the second part of the book, Spiritual Therapy, is a collection of chapters giving spiritual instruction on salvation by grace, eternal security, and finding God’s will. These subjects, though perhaps indirectly related to stress, are really not a discussion of “stress fractures.”
In the chapter entitled “Destiny,” for example, Swindol discusses heaven and hell and God’s provision of salvation from hell through Jesus Christ. It’s a very well-written chapter but it addresses a different readership-unbelievers. Prior to this chapter the author was apparently addressing Christians. So, who are the intended readers-believers under stress or unbelievers under God’s wrath? Also, the repeated discussions on eternal security would imply that lack of confidence in this doctrine was the chief cause of stress-induced breakdowns. (This could actually be the case in stress breakdowns related to one’s faith.)
The chapter on “Demonism,” although of a spiritual nature, does bring out how Christians can be hindered or hurt by demonic activity, no doubt resulting in tremendous “stress fractures” of various types. Here the spiritual and emotional/physical realms definitely intersect.
Perhaps Swindol was trying to give the solutions for emotional stress problems indirectly by dealing with solutions to the spiritual problems. If the book had more details on practical therapy for various forms of psychological fractures due to physical/emotional/psychological, and interpersonal stress, it would better suit the title. By the same token, the second half would fit well in a book on doctrine and growth.
Swindol’s writing is easy to read, is backed up by massive use of Scripture, and is doctrinally sound. The individual chapters are well written and organized, and contain much valuable and useful information. In fact, much of the doctrinal material falls right in line with grace teaching.
Mark J. Farstad
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society