Book Review: Heart & Life
Publisher: Aldersgate Press ISBN: 9781609470357
I truly enjoyed the content and format of this book. Two primary notions come to my mind after having spent several weeks in it; they are: (1) It is a needful conversation today—especially within the circles of the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, and (2) The topics and treatment thereof are relevant and well attended in the context of the individual essays.
Personally, I have been part of the holiness tradition for almost forty years. I have lived through many changes in the expression of holy living and I have experienced the interpretation of holy living across several denominations as well as how those interpretations might be lived out in regional applications (Deep South, Northeast, and Pacific Northwest). This book is helpful in bringing the conversation of holiness back to the table. I cannot speak for every holiness denomination, but I do know from my personal experience and from a number of national surveys the topic of holy living (i.e., sanctification) is rare in many of our Wesleyan-Holiness churches today. I have appreciated the treatment and relevancy of topics that I have found in Heart & Life: Rediscovering Holy Living.
This book has its origin in a group of Wesleyan-Holiness denominations who recognized the need to reconceive and promote biblical holiness for the twenty-first century. To this end, the Wesleyan Holiness Study Project was founded in 2003 and embarked on a three-year study (2004-2006) to realize the crisis we face in articulating the holiness message, recognize the message we have to share, and identify the action we must take in order to make the holiness message known. Heart & Life is the fruit of those studies.
The book is a collection of twenty articles from the perspectives of men and women across a broad spectrum of the holiness tradition representing some of the most highly respected theologians within the Wesleyan-Holiness sphere. A complete biography of the contributors is included at the end of the book. The articles/essays are arranged in four main parts: The Foundations of Holiness, The Experience of Holiness, Applications of Holiness, and Church Life and Holiness. Each of these sections contains four to six individual essays.
The format of the essays is very user-friendly and suitable for individual reading and group discussions; actually, I think they are ideal for groups. Each chapter-essay begins with a focus statement, which addresses a particular challenge and identifies ways to approach the challenge. The accompanying essay (most are between six to ten pages) then delves deeper into those focus thoughts and is completed with a grouping of discussion questions.
As I have already mentioned, one of the strengths of the book is how relevant it is to our contemporary society. Another strength of this book is the great diversity of the contributing scholars. I have no criticism for the book with one small exception, which might just be a personal preference. I always like to see an accompanying bibliography to aid me in further study should I desire to dig deeper on a topic. There was no bibliography or detailed annotation record. Each chapter had references where required, but it is always nice to have these in a single collection where possible.
I am thankful for the efforts put forth by the contributors and the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (www.HolinessandUnity.org).