Book Review: Consumed
Author: Mark Fuller
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press ISBN: 9780834127395
I had to keep reminding myself that the subtitle of this book was An Introduction to the Holy Spirit. It seemed my own knowledge and experience were pushed and pulled with affirmation and exasperation as I read my way through Consumed. I don’t know if this is an indicator that I liked or disliked the book…I do know my reactions to it weren’t lukewarm.
This is a short book (just under eighty pages of actual reading) and a very quick read at that. The information shared is not new and it is not exhaustive; it is as advertised, an introduction. Fuller has arranged Consumed in six chapters and follows a very normative and methodical approach in sharing his subject. The chapter titles are as follows: Who is the Holy Spirit?, What is the Work of the Holy Spirit?, How Can I Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?, What About the Gifts of the Spirit?, How Can I Bear Fruit of the Holy Spirit?, and What is the Impact of a Spirit-filled Life?
Fuller answers his question in chapter one, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” in a myth versus fact format. I didn’t really connect with this approach. While there might be some helpful points made in the way he presented the person of the Holy Spirit, it still seemed somewhat restrictive from my perspective. It seemed to me this method presents me with a “God is” and “God is not” encounter. I’m sure there is value in “debunking myths” and establishing truths about the Holy Spirit, but as I read the first chapter I was uncomfortable with how the Holy Spirit was characterized…not that I read anything that I was in disagreement with. I have found in my studies, there is a very rich history and theology about the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit, I would have liked to experience some of that richness as opposed to a “fact-finding mission.”
The tone of the first chapter more or less sets the tone for the rest of the chapters; everything presented seemed clinical and textbook flavored to me. I didn’t read anything that I overtly disagreed with or found fault with, but I felt as though I was reading a “sanitized” exploration of the working of the Holy Spirit (I remind myself that this is an introduction).
I think of all the chapters, I appreciated How Can I be Filled with the Spirit the most. The reason for my favor of this chapter is primarily related to my own bias and belief. Fuller teaches that being “filled” with the Spirit is a divine imperative and not a Christian option on the path of discipleship. Additionally, he teaches that dying to our self is a prerequisite requirement to becoming filled with the Spirit. I wholeheartedly agree with this position. I also liked chapter five, How Can I Bear the Fruit of the Holy Spirit? I found some points that I might “split hairs” over, but overall I was in solid agreement with the understanding that we, as believers following Christ, partner with the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in the character of Jesus Christ.
I think if there were any suggestions for improving this Introduction to the Holy Spirit, I would offer the following ideas: (1) provide a resource list and bibliography for further studies. (2) Broaden the spectrum of influence—provide some historical context from the early church’s experience with the Holy Spirit using writings from the church fathers. (3) Provide some practical explanation and teaching about living in partnership with the Holy Spirit; He counsels, but how? The Holy Spirit comforts us in our grief, but what does that comfort look like? He teaches and guides, is helpful, but what does this practically look like in my life?
In closing this review, I’d like to say again that I did not find anything that I overtly disagreed with. As an introduction, I think the book is fine, although I mention what I feel could bring improvement. I might recommend this book for someone, but would probably include others with hopes to provide a more robust explanation and introduction to the Holy Spirit.