Book Reviews

Congratulations to the Winners!

Last week, I shared with you Thomas Coutouzis’ excellent guest post, A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”. Thomas graciously offered to give away two copies of his own book, Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude. Congratulations to the two winners!

Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s “Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in my “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.


For more information on Jackie Hill-Perry, please click here.

A Review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s
“Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”

by: Thomas Coutouzis

There is an old adage that says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. The implication is that the outward appearance of a book is not a reliable indicator of the content. This can be true at times, however, I have found more often than not that you actually can judge a book by its cover, probably more today than ever. In the case of Jackie Hill-Perry’s study on Jude, you can indeed judge a book by its cover. I will tell you why shortly.

I was asked if I would read the Jackie Hill-Perry study on Jude and write a review since I have written a commentary on Jude. I have studied extensively in Jude and have a passion for defending the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Our Lord doesn’t need us to defend His truth or His name, but He chooses to use us and charges us to contend against false teaching.

I don’t know much about Ms. Perry. I saw her in the excellent documentary made by Brandon Kimber called, American Gospel: Christ Alone. In this documentary she and a multitude of other saints presented the tenets of the prosperity gospel and began to dismantle them piece by piece with Scripture until you could see the man-made anti-Christ teaching it really was. What was surprising is when she posted pictures on social media of her with a variety of false teachers. The first thought that immediately popped into my mind was, “How can you teach a study on Jude and then go and befriend those who preach a false gospel?” These two things cannot coexist together. After all, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not to mention that we should not even give a false teacher a greeting (2 John 10-11). My suspicion was that Ms. Perry didn’t fully understand the text and as I read and listened to our dear sister’s messages I found that this is most likely the case.

I started with looking over the cover first. As a person with an Ad Agency background I found that the cover missed the entire theme of Jude. Jude is a polemic epistle. Polemic comes from the Greek word πόλεμος (polemos), which means “war/battle/fight”. Thus Jude is a call to arms for the church to stand up and go to war with false teachers. In verse 3, Jude challenges the believer to contend for the faith earnestly (ἐπαγωνίζομαι – epagonizomai). It gives us our English word, “agonize”. The word denotes a struggle against a competitor or enemy. In this case, Jude is using the word figuratively to describe going to battle against an enemy. It is combat against a foe. The word is used in the present tense denoting that the believer is to constantly combat false teachers. False teachers will never rest spreading heresy, neither should we stop opposing them with the truth. With this said, the cover (image at the top of this article) was an intersection on a city street with three cross walks and various people making their way to and fro. This cover in no way encapsulates the theme of Jude. It is a misrepresentation of the message of this epistle. The theme of Jude is a fight against those wolves in sheep’s clothing who have sneaked into the church with the purpose of turning it away from God. My commentary has a shield with two swords on the cover. This sets the tone for what you are about to read. Unfortunately, the creative team at LifeWay and Ms. Perry missed the mark on the cover for this study.

In this study Ms. Perry did six teaching segments and one summary segment. That said, Her teaching segments skipped over verses 12-13 and 16-19 which are very significant to understanding the text. However, the book does cover these, but not in any depth. Ms. Perry is a godly woman who has a passion for her King. The Lord has saved her, like all of us, from a life of great rebellion. You can see the love and passion she has for Him as she presents each of her messages.

In listening to the first segment (Jude 1-2) Ms. Perry understands that Jude is starting off his letter gently for a reason. The words that follow are going to be strong so he wants to make sure that the elect understand that their faith is secure before he drops some hard words regarding apostates. She makes this point very clear. She also speaks to Jude reminding them that the elect’s faith is secure for all time.

What I believe was missing in her teaching and the book was the historical context for Jude. What ancient heresies were around when Jude wrote the book that would give insight to his remarks? How do we know Jude was Jesus’ brother and not Judas son of James? There are Scriptures that prove Jude was Jesus’ brother, but why were they not cited as proof to whom this was (Mark 6:3)? There are also Scriptures that point to Jude’s unbelief in Christ like John 7:5. These are all important not only in pointing to lineage and authorship, but that God redeemed him (Acts 1:14) from his unbelief and why he is so passionate to contend for the faith. How can we understand the book if we don’t understand the man’s roots?

In the section of the book that covered Jude 1-2 I was perplexed as to why there was teaching about how the ancients wrote letters. The book displayed a letter from a Roman soldier named Apion and wanted the reader to compare them to Paul’s greetings in Ephesians 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, and John’s greeting in Revelation 1:4-5. It struck me more as a filler to take up space rather than to help the reader to understand what this letter means.

In verse 3, Ms. Perry does not define the Greek word for “contend earnestly” (ἐπαγωνίζομαι – epagonizomai), but she does speak to one aspect of its usage which was regarding a struggle in athletic contests. Fighting to win the wreath. Indeed, the people of this time would be familiar with the Olympic games and the struggle to win, but that is not how Jude is using this word. Epagonizomai” combines the preposition “epi” meaning, “focused on” and “agon” which means “a contest”. In Greek, a preposition intensifies the meaning of the word to show the ferocity of the fight. In this case, Jude is using it figuratively for military combat. A fight in which your very life hangs in the balance and you must fight until the last breath. This is your enemy, not a competitor. You shake hands after a contest with a competitor. In battle, your enemy will gloat over your dead body because he seeks your destruction. Such are false teachers. They seek your destruction. The term is in the present tense which indicates that challenging false teachers is a constant. The Christian is to do this until he breathes his last.

Jude 3 is the cornerstone of the epistle. If you incorrectly interpret this verse, then the meaning of the rest of the book will crumble to the ground. Ms. Perry misses the militaristic intent. This term would indeed be recognized by the hearer in the context of Rome and its gladiators who would “epagonizomai”. This misunderstanding might be why Ms. Perry has associated with apostates like Jenn Johnson. She doesn’t see them as a threat to her or Christ. If you don’t see your enemy as a threat he is going to lure you in and destroy you.

To further show where Ms. Perry misses the mark on this verse, she rightly posits in the accompanying teaching video (#2) that those who contend with hatred in their hearts are wrong. There are infamous discernment blogs out there that excoriate both apostate and brethren alike, attacking their character more than the error. There is no civility. She gives an example of people holding up picket signs “outside”. It struck me as a reference to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. They certainly are filled with hatred, thus in need of redemption. Ms. Perry states, “It might be that these people have contended for the faith wrong because they have taken the imagery of contending and divorced it from love.” I believe she is referring to these people with picket signs who have hatred in their hearts and not to the church to which Jude wrote his epistle. It was hard to tell. Right after saying this she posits that because Jude called these Christians “beloved” and said “may love be multiplied to you” that Jude is telling them that they are to contend for the faith in love. She further explains, “So when he (Jude) tells them to contend for the faith, love is to be assumed as an active participant in how they do it.”

First, she is reading something into the text that is not there. This is eisegesis (reading one’s own bias into the text that is not the author’s original intent). There is no connection with Jude’s greeting regarding his love for them and love being multiplied to them that would imply that he is exhorting them to contend for the faith in love, especially with his gut punch to them in verse 3. When I first heard this it almost sounded as if she was suggesting that the recipients of this epistle were not contending for the faith in love, but as I listened to it for context a few more times I don’t believe that she was drawing this conclusion.

Regardless, the aforementioned eisegesis of Jude exhorting the church to contend for the faith in love stands. The believers in Jerusalem were passive toward sin. These Christians were allowing false teachers to be a part of the church, thereby allowing in heresy, and turning believers away to a different Christ. Jude is emphatically calling believers to arms to fight against these heretics who have sneaked in. They are going to need to start church discipline immediately because when Jude’s letter is read, they will recognize these wolves. Some of these apostates might be their friends with whom they must now have hard conversations. Relationships will be severed and hearts will be broken.

Ms. Perry didn’t really explain in depth what contending for the faith in love looks like. We certainly should contend for the faith without maligning the character of others or abusive speech. Ms. Perry didn’t distinguish the line other than hatred, cynicism, and cruelty. I was under the impression that there is no room for stern reproofs for apostates. I believe Titus 1:13 and some of Paul’s stern reproofs (See 1 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 12-13, and Galatians) would not side with her. You can be loving and stern in a rebuke, especially when someone is extremely hard-hearted. Ultimately, we should care so much about others’ well being that they see our kindness and care for them, but this doesn’t negate that there might be a time when words need to be stronger in order to penetrate a heart hardened by sin.

This leads me to my next point. In terms of the depth of the study and application, I found this study to be severely lacking. The book’s subtitle is, “Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture”, but there are no examples of modern day apostasy. Jude clearly points out the attributes of apostates. These were not taught in the teaching video, but the book did scratch the surface of some of these attributes. Many of the study questions asked, “What do you think…?” instead of “What does the text mean?” The “What do you think?” questions lead to subjective answers rather than objective. The line between truth and error is blurred with subjective questioning. When we read a text we want to discern what God actually means.

Here are more examples:

Regarding Jude 6 and the angels that were having sex with women and spawning a super race: “Do you think God should have judged them? Why or Why not?”

Why would you ask that question? Of course they should have been judged!

What was so surprising is that there was no application as to how this relates to identifying an apostate. The study showed the demons in the abyss as a clear judgment from God, but did not relate it to the coming judgment of apostates who are like these demons. The book and teaching didn’t make the correlation that these demons went outside of God’s sexual boundaries that he established in Genesis 2:24. One of the easiest things to discern is that apostates live to go outside the boundaries that God sets with His Law. In this case, and in the case of Sodom, Jude is showing that apostates are the foremost of the sexually immoral. Where there is a sex scandal in the church, you will find an apostate. They will break every one of God’s sexual boundaries, whether heterosexual sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, polyamory, pedophilia, incest, rape, etc. Sexual sin is a judgment from God, but that is never discussed, nor pointing out that men and women in the church venturing outside of God’s sexual boundaries are most likely unregenerate.

Regarding Jude 8 when Jude refers to apostates as dreamers, Ms. Perry gives the transliterated word “enupniazomai”, but doesn’t define it. Why would you give the Greek word that Jude uses and no definition? It means “in a dream state/in a dream while asleep.” Jude is obviously using this term figuratively to denote that apostates are daydreamers. They daydream about sex, money, fame, luxury, and even revenge. Daydreams are a form of self-exaltation. Apostates will go to whatever end to get these things that they lust after; thus they defile their flesh. False teachers do declare divine revelation through dreams, but that is not what they are doing here because these dreams that Jude speaks of lead them to defile their flesh.

Regarding Jude 12-13, questions were asked like:

“What four elements of nature did Jude use to describe the ungodly teachers?” Questions like this will not aid the reader in understanding what Jude means when he says apostates are “autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;”.

There are many more examples that I could give, but it is not necessary. I don’t believe this study will thoroughly equip you for battle against apostates, not all of which are infamous false teachers like Steven Furtick or TD Jakes. Many are small town church pastors or congregants in our own churches that are either dormant or actively working to lead people away from God. They are regular church attenders like you and me.

With this study we can judge a book by its cover. It is not that the study is heresy, rather it barely scratches the surface of a potent book. I can only speculate as to why Ms. Perry after teaching a study on Jude would associate with those who meet all the criteria Jude gives for apostasy. This epistle should aid in our discernment of counterfeit Christians. If it doesn’t, then we are not heeding the necessity with which Jude wrote this book and commands us to contend earnestly for the faith until we are called home.


Thomas Coutouzis is the author of Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude as well as an epic fantasy series that is partial allegory called Athanasia (The Great Insurrection (part 1) and The Unknown Lands (part 2)). Thomas resides in North Carolina with his wife and two children, is an expositional Bible teacher at his church. He welcomes you to follow him on Twitter.


Book Giveaway: Thomas would like to bless two readers with a copy of his book Agonizing For The Faith: A Biblical Exposition of Jude. To enter the giveaway, drop Thomas an e-mail at thomascoutouzis@gmail.com before 11:59 p.m., Friday, April 24 and let him know something you liked or learned from his review of Jackie Hill-Perry’s book. Thomas will choose the winners and notify them by e-mail.

Book Reviews

Guest Post: A Review of “Before the Throne”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

A Review of Allen S. Nelson IV’s
Before the Throne
by Melissa Googe

Each day, I become increasingly grieved by our world. We are surrounded by conflict over issues that, if we were to abide by Scripture, would be quickly settled. How can those saved by God’s grace be so divided over the answers to today’s controversies?

As a long-time Christian and the wife of a pastor, I am blessed to have spent many years in my faith. I grew up in a Christian home. I have many Christian friends. I teach in a public school system where our motto is JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself). I am surrounded by Christians, yet I find myself so frustrated with family members, friends, or colleagues that I strongly consider unfollowing them on social media or want to avoid being around them.

Sadly, there is a movement among Christians to “modernize” our faith to make it more “relevant.” To accomplish this, churches have adopted popular worldly ideas instead of expecting the lost to embrace Biblical views upon salvation. In Nelson’s preface, when I was beginning to know that I had found a kindred soul, he wrote that the answer to the church’s compulsion to be relevant is “to look downward so as to look upward.” He continued on to say that “the church that looks long into the face of God in Scripture will find that the question for “relevancy” is no longer all that relevant.” (2)

Oversimplification of all that is involved in living a Christian life and reaching others for Christ has led to churches full of lost people who falsely believe they are saved. How do we know this? Just take an honest look around. Many who claim to be Christians today actually hold to a form of “practical atheism.” (19) Nelson describes a practical atheist as one who “acknowledges the existence of God in his or her mind but lives as though He either doesn’t exist, or that He actually doesn’t care how we live or how He is to be worshiped.” Wow! This description really brings some people to mind, doesn’t it?

I sat down with Nelson’s Before the Throne: Reflections on God’s Holiness with an expectation of encountering complex theology about God’s holiness that would require me to stop reading and research information to be able to make my way through the text. While God’s holiness is not a simple subject, instead of having to stop because of running into something I didn’t understand, I had to stop because I was being humbled. This book, while it is about God’s holiness, is guaranteed to cause you not only to reflect upon God’s holiness, but to realize how truly unworthy and lost we are without Him and the sacrifice of His son.

Sin. Such a small word, but what word carries more weight? Humans try to minimize sin, but there is nothing of greater cost to us as the dividing line between us and holiness of God. Acknowledging God but then living as though He doesn’t exist, as though He doesn’t care how we live, or as though He doesn’t care about how we worship Him is completely sinful. If we are honest, no one reading this would dare to claim to have never sinned in such a way. Like Paul said in Romans 7: 15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Nelson’s Before the Throne helps readers understand what holiness is, how God and holiness are synonymous, and what referring to God’s holiness really means. While God’s holiness is anything but simple, Nelson has done an exemplary job of detailed explanations and examples of God’s undoubtable, unspeakable, untamable, unblemishable, unmatchable, unquestionable, uncontainable, unchangeable, unapproachable, uncompromising, unborable, and unquenchable holiness.

I will not attempt to touch upon each of Nelson’s points; read his book and find for yourself the “excitement, woe, conviction, awe, and gladness” of God’s holiness that Nelson shares with readers! (1) Instead, I will share how reading Nelson’s book helped me to immediately recognize God’s holiness in action. God’s holiness isn’t something that we should only think about during the preaching hour on Sunday; we should spend time each day “intentionally contemplating the holiness of God.” (209) I propose that reading Nelson’s book will help to clarify attributes of God’s holiness that are described and present in His Word, and you will then be able to apply your improved understanding of God’s holiness to life’s many different circumstances.

Last week, our small, rural county lost a pillar of our community. I could never put into words what he meant to many in the area, as he, the owner of the only funeral home in the county, was the one who ministered to us when we lost family members and friends. One response to his passing on social media was to share an excerpt from The Shack by William P. Young. In this excerpt, “the Lord” states, “…because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes.” I know this was shared with the intention of comforting those grieving, but exactly how is reading about how the Lord has nothing to do with “unspeakable tragedies” going to comfort the bereaved?

I am sure we have all experienced the deep grief that comes with the passing of a loved one. Four years ago, my best friend’s battle with cancer ended. I believe He has a plan. I believe in God’s holiness. Yet it is hard to hold onto those truths in such times. Today, I could still allow myself to be drawn into the heartbreak of losing Katherine’s tangible presence, of missing our laughter, of seeing her children grow up without her. Instead, I choose, and let us all choose, to be comforted by these truths about God’s unquestionable holiness. “We don’t judge events and conditions and then question whether God was holy in His actions. Rather, we begin with the premise that God is holy and then we filter all these through this truth – even the events and circumstances we cannot fully explain.” (102) “For today, we only know in part, but part of what we do know is that all God decides, decrees, and demands is holy.” (103)

Yesterday, a friend shared a Steven Furtick video from Elevation Church dated April 4th in which Furtick seeks to illustrate God’s grace between the gaps of where you have been and where He is taking you. However, Furtick’s illustration shows that in walking with God, “When you take a step, when you make a move, God moves too.” According to Furtick, God will not let you reach Him because you would become arrogant; “So what God is gonna do, God is going to make sure that as you grow, the gap stays.” Essentially, Furtick’s illustration teaches that you can strive to live a holy and obedient life, but you will never grow any closer to God.

I am thankful for God’s unchangeable holiness and for His unapproachable holiness. Nelson cites A.W. Tozer who wrote, “For He, being unchanging and unchangeable, can never become holier than He is.” (132) God is not going to become any holier, so He is not going to continuously move away from us. As Nelson states, “The fact that God is unchanging is unquestionable upon any honest reading of the Scriptures,” and he references verses from James, Malachi, and Hebrews. (132-33)

Furtick’s illustration missed the mark. It communicated that you can walk in God’s grace, and you can grow from where you were, but you are not ever going to be able to reach God. The people in Furtick’s church cheered his message. Dear Christian brothers and sisters, this is a perfect example of why we need to know His Word, of why we need to be able to recognize false teachings, and of why we need a much better grasp of His holiness. “Grace doesn’t minimize our sin. It exposes it for what it really is and then covers it with the blood of Jesus.” (158) Christians should desire sanctification (an important word missing from Furtick’s illustration), at the same time knowing that “In and of ourselves, we cannot approach the God of unapproachable holiness. But the son can. And in Him, we can draw near to God.” (157) Praise be to God!

As a Language Arts teacher, I speak often of the vast number of words we have that fall short in the most important moments of life. Sometimes all we can do to express our meaning is to repeat our words. I leave you with a note from Nelson on God’s unquestionable holiness. “Language buckles under the pressure to satisfactorily describe God. The threefold repetition of holy is the best our words can do to show that God is holy to the maximum.” (100) There is nothing of any greater importance than God’s holiness, and no better example of when one word alone is not enough. May Before the Throne deepen your understanding of God’s holiness and leads you to desire to know His Word and our holy, holy, holy God evermore.


Allen “Cuatro” Nelson, IV, author of Before the Throne, is the pastor of Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, Arkansas. Contact Allen directly via Twitter to order Before the Throne or his first book, From Death to Life. You can also order from Amazon.

Melissa Googe came to know Christ at a young age and is thankful for each day she has had to spend with Him. Being raised in a Christian home, being the wife of a pastor, and being the mother of three are just a few of the other blessings God has given her. Melissa’s primary ministry has been to serve as a middle school teacher for eighteen years in public schools. She enjoys sharing her love of reading with students and friends and fulfilling the call to minister to others.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THOSE WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYONE YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE
Book Reviews, Guest Posts, Salvation

Guest Post: A Review of “From Death to Life: How Salvation Works”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

photo credit: Stephen J. Melniszyn

A Review of Allen S. Nelson IV’s
From Death to Life: How Salvation Works
by Katy B.

The most agonizing, frustrating experience in my ministry to women is the woman who claims to be “saved” but gives no evidence of it. No interest in talking about Jesus, no interest in holiness, reading the Bible, going to church, serving God’s people. She has a salvation testimony (often dramatic and self-glorifying) that is superficial, shallow, and devoid of any real repentance for her sin. I suspect she’s a false convert. And I find it exceptionally difficult to talk to false converts.

In From Death to Life, Pastor Allen Nelson confronts the disaster of false conversions, linking them to a false understanding of salvation: what it is, what it does, and how it works. He writes, “Ask fifteen people what it takes to be saved and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you’ll get twenty different answers.” (Loc 173

He makes the bold statement that “there is no spiritual life in many who claim to be Christians in America.(Loc 247) He calls them the “walking dead”.

How does that happen? What would cause a person to wrongly believe he or she is a Christian? He lays some of the responsibility at the feet of churches that use methods such as external manipulation, diluted gospel presentations, the altar call, and the sinner’s prayer to lead the walking dead to their false professions of faith and their false assurances of salvation. He blisters easy-believism practices that, even if well-intentioned, have done damage to churches more influenced by a fallen culture than by God’s own Word.

So how does salvation work? The author has narrowed the answer down to five main points:

1. The gospel must be proclaimed.

2. God must move.

3. The sinner must respond in faith and repentance.

4. God justifies the sinner.

5. The sinner grows in the Lord over a lifetime.

Pastor Nelson not only unpacks, but folds, hangs up, and neatly puts away each of these main points in a few short chapters. In doing so, he poses and then answers questions such as, “What is the true gospel?”, “What is biblical repentance?”, “What is saving faith?”, and “What exactly is justification?” His answers are delivered in a direct, engaging, accessible style with plenty of biblical illustrations and scriptural references. No theological dictionary needed.

The book includes “howto’s” but doesn’t read like a “howto” manual. The tone is pastoral, sometimes comfortable, sometimes convicting, but never harsh. At times, the reading felt like sitting over coffee with Pastor Nelson, asking questions about various evangelistic situations, and receiving useful advice on how to respond.

A destitute woman in a homeless shelter, eyes pallid, needle tracks running down her arms, naturally incites my heart instinct to put my arms around her, tell her Jesus loves her, and give her some money. But Pastor Nelson reminds us:

“People need to hear more than “Jesus loves you,” What they need to hear today is what they’ve always needed: to know that they are sinners, that they need a Savior, that Jesus is that Savior, and until and unless they come to Him in faith, they will justly spend an eternity facing the punishment of their sins.” (Loc 2413)

He points out that it is vital that we all (not just the “trained professionals”) know what to say when the time comes to share the gospel of Christ. And while there is no formula, it is essential that the facts of the gospel are understood. The book helpfully guides the reader in a biblical understanding of how salvation happens and presents realistic examples of responses that can be used with unbelievers/false converts in evangelistic conversations.

The chapter “Plant, Water, Trust God, Repeat” is a compelling warning to stick to a biblical approach to evangelizing the lost. (Throughout the book he gives examples of unbiblical approaches.) In this encouraging chapter, he discusses applying how salvation works in real life scenarios, acknowledging that it is not always easy. He doesn’t present himself as a superhero evangelist.

This is a serious book, but the author can also be funny. I got a laugh out of his response to the command to “ask Jesus into your heart”. His tone, however, is utterly serious when discussing repentance:

“God doesn’t beg people to repent so they can be the star player on His team. He demands repentance. He owes mankind nothing. What a fearful and insolent game we play by making repentance an optional feature to becoming a Christian, refusing to properly define it in hopes of sneaking people into the kingdom, or by flat out dismissing it altogether.” (Loc 1164)

He spends a good bit of time parked on repentance, emphasizing that biblical repentance is necessary for any person to become a Christian. He asserts, “Remorse does not equal repentance” and goes on to give what he calls the bare necessities of repentance.

Is it possible to know if a person has actually been converted? In the chapter on sanctification, the author acknowledges that while we can’t see the heart, we can use the discernment God gives us to see evidence of true conversion. He provides a practical alliteration method to assist in discerning whether or not the gospel has actually taken root in a person’s heart and the changes we would expect to see in a truly converted person.

He warns the church against haphazardly affirming people as Christians without exercising grace-filled discernment:

“Often, we claim that the problem in our churches is that too many people are immature believers when the real problem is that many we call immature, actually have no life in Christ at all. They aren’t growing because they aren’t living.” (Loc 1878)

The sanctification chapter, my favorite, thrust me to a fresh examination of my own life using his alliteration template. What evidence of salvation would others see in me? What would they discern as my motivation for life? There is plenty of self-application for the reader.

The book has three appendices. Appendix 1: The Sinner’s Prayer, Appendix 2: Acts 2 is Not an Altar Call, Appendix 3: Putting “Baptist” Back in Your Church. In these appendices, the author makes some “say whaaaat?!? observations that will rock your world if your church endorses these practices.

This is a short book. Although the print version is only 200 pages, there is nothing shallow about the content. The reader will step into a deep pool. Did I know how salvation works before I read the book? Yes. Have I been guilty of using unbiblical methods to try to bring about a conversion? Yes. I finished the book with an unanticipated, heart wrenching reorientation to the gospel as the power of God unto salvation. I bet I’m not the only reader who closed the book and repented.

I began by saying I find it exceptionally difficult to talk to false converts. What do you say to someone who believes she is saved when it is clear that she is not? Pastor Nelson is immeasurably supportive in reinforcing that “we must proclaim the gospel. Without it, people will go to hell. It’s as simple as that.” (Loc 441)

The book left me feeling hopeful, energized, looking forward to my next evangelistic encounter. God saves sinners. God saves sinners. And he uses sinners like me to do so.

Pastor Nelson writes, “Every single one of us is charged with sharing the gospel with those God providentially places in our life.” What a calling, what a staggering privilege. God could sovereignly call His own to Himself without us, but He has chosen to work through us. This book will certainly help us in our evangelism. I recommend it for everyone.

¹Katy reviewed the Kindle edition of the book and used Kindle location numbers rather than page numbers.


Allen “Cuatro” Nelson, IV, author of From Death to Life, is the pastor of Perryville Second Baptist Church in Perryville, Arkansas, and co-host of The Rural Church Podcast. Contact Him directly via Twitter to receive a free study guide with your order of From Death to Life or a discount on bulk orders. You can also order from Amazon.

Katy can’t remember when she became a Christian but is assured that, by the grace of God alone, she is a Christian. She ministers to women in her OPC church, in homeless shelters, in a prison, and sometimes at the grocery store. She is an executive with a United States health care corporation and enjoys her work, although she would rather be reading. You can find Katy on Twitter at @KatyvonBora.

ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THOSE WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYONE YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Book Reviews, Guest Posts

Guest Post: A Review of Jennie Allen’s “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

A Review of Jennie Allen’s
Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul

by Carol Coppens

Many years ago, when I was in the 6th grade, I was taught that when doing a book report, even if I didn’t like the book, I should try to say something good about it. That was fine teaching at the time and I think it has made me a better writer, this trying to see both sides. I’m not in school any longer though and these days, I’m bound less by trying to see the good and more to pointing out the multiple errors of books like Anything. If you’re a Jennie Allen fan, you won’t like what I have to say but I can’t stay silent.

Anything is a poorly written book. It’s an irreverent book. It’s a book that will never help any woman discover the totality of God’s plan of redemption, His sovereignty, His wrath which rests on the unregenerate, nor His holy fury at those who presume to speak for Him. This is not a book that will help you to dive deep into the character of God and to know Him better but instead, Jennie’s book is a tedious, self absorbed, experience driven, hermeneutically unsound, over-stepper of scriptural boundaries, mish-mash of emotionalism and repetitive “wrecked-ness”. Here are some of the specific faults that I see.

Even in these days of relativity, where the only rule that seems to apply is that there are to be no rules at all, there are still a few that are necessary. One of the rules of basic English grammar is, if you’re going to use an adjective (remember that word from English class?) you’d better do your homework and find out exactly what that word means, in the context in which you plan to use it.

The word reckless is used multiple times in this book. Jennie describes childlike faith as living “simply, recklessly.” On pg. 97, she writes that she and her husband, “now lay in the hands of a reckless, invisible God.” Page 143 tells of her realization that people are going to think they are foolish for adopting, saying, “that goes with almost any act of recklessness, even reckless love.” Maybe she thought the word sounded powerful and kind of daring when she penned it but the definition of reckless is “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

Describe human beings as reckless as much as you like, because we all certainly can be, but when a writer uses the word reckless to describe almighty God, that person has crossed over into blasphemy and I would shudder to think that I had written such a thing about the God I will eventually have to give an account to. Some of the other words she uses to describe God are, “unsafe”, “wildly unpredictable”, “radical”, “ridiculously radical” and she also writes that “God is still not very practical.” Exactly where are the chapters and verses for these descriptions of God, Jennie?

In many places, Jennie adds words to Scripture that are not there. Space hinders me from listing them all, so one example will have to do. On page 184, she speaks for Jesus and writes, “as if he were letting us in on the secret, Jesus whispered back to his father, this will all be worth it. Wait till they are with us and see our glory. Just wait till all of this work and suffering and pouring out is over and we are in heaven together forever. Just wait.”

This conversation is, of course, recorded nowhere in Scripture but the words “do not exceed what is written”, definitely are. Jennie would do well to read and meditate deeply on that verse in 1 Corinthians 4. When we imagine that God is speaking to us apart from Scripture, we can easily be led to enter very dangerous territory.

An example of her flawed interpretations of Scripture is on page 37. Jennie quotes Hosea 2:14-17 but then she blatantly misinterprets God’s promise to restore Israel to Himself, as a “dramatic metaphor” about those of us who chase other loves. I say, leave Biblical interpreting to those who know about these things, Jennie. If you think that you’ve been given a new interpretation of these verses that no other person has ever had before, you’re just plain wrong. God was promising restoration to Israel in these verses and nothing else.

She also does emotional and hermeneutical callisthenics with God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (pgs. 69-70). Jennie’s theory is that God was punishing Abraham for his overwhelming love for his son that, according to her, had usurped God as Abraham’s first love. If she had thoughtfully studied these Bible passages or, if she truly understood God’s plan to ultimately save His elect, she would know that the sacrifice of Isaac and the ram God substituted for the boy, was a shadow of God’s own sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no excuse for such lazy interpretation of the sacred Scriptures. In these current times, the proliferation of false and misleading doctrine abounds. Having the correct interpretation of Scripture is of paramount importance because our eternal futures depend on understanding correctly, what God is saying to us.

On page 102, Jennie asks “so how do we actually let God change us?” Finally, I thought, a good solid question after having read page after page of drivel. Can an explanation of justification and sanctification be far behind? Sadly, they weren’t even hinted at and she goes on to tell a rather horrific (as a mother I cringed) story of telling her two oldest children to climb up a cliff and jump off! For Jennie, jumping is the key. Either “jump or crawl down” and “the more we jump and see our God come alive around us, the more we jump without fear – and the bigger the cliffs get”, she says. As the Peanuts character Charlie Brown was known to exclaim, good grief!

In the final analysis, the biggest problem I had with this book (and I slogged through it twice) was my knowing that, from the time of her “vision” in the night that Jennie feels was definitely from God, the wheels of the IF: Gatherings began to turn. For those readers who still might be unfamiliar with IF, they are para-church organization, begun by Jennie, that has no scriptural basis or authority. The gatherings happen outside of the local churches and their oversight, supposedly to accomplish something, ie. discipling women, that only churches are charged to do, in Scripture. In this case, the ends do not justify the means.

Because all the women involved in IF cannot possibly be born again, spirit filled, doctrinally sound, mature women with the spiritual gift of teaching, the possibilities for unscriptural philosophies and practices entering in to local churches, families and society at large, are enormous. I see this movement as no less than a calculated move of Satan against women, a frontal attack on the sufficiency of Scripture and a throwing off of the direct commands of God, in His Word, for both married and single women. Jennie Allen might believe that her “call” to begin IF was of God, but I do not.

So, at the end of the day, would I recommend this book to anyone? Absolutely not! What I do recommend instead is simply this – read your Bible, always praying that God will illuminate your mind with His truth. Get involved with a biblically solid church and pray for God to open doors for you to serve there. There is no substitute for a godly, biblically saturated, discerning Christian woman and one only gets that way by hard work and study. The Scriptures do not open themselves to the slothful. When a woman is mature in Christ and can properly discern truth from error then and only then it will come to pass that the writings of the Jennie Allens of this world will be seen for what they truly are, rubbish.

With a grateful nod to my 6th grade English teacher, I suppose I could say one good thing about this book and that is, that it wasn’t any longer.


Carol and her husband Mike live in a small town, on the shores of Lake Erie, in Ontario, Canada. She was 49 years old when Christ called her to be His disciple. A love for the pure truth of God’s Word fuels her passion to expose false teaching and especially that kind which has women as its primary target.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THose WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANYone YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.