Be Not Afraid Paperback – Jul 1 2010
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From the Back Cover
Look deep into the questions of your life and deep into the heart of God: there is no need to be afraid.
"Sam Wells has given us good medicine in this book that both diagnoses the fears of our times and offers the remedy of the gospel. In these engaging and wise essays, Wells addresses not only our fear of death but also our fear of life in all its messy complexity. With a deft mix of storytelling, biblical interpretation, and theological reflection, Wells assiduously tells us the truth about the world--a truth we can face because the way beyond fear is not through denial but through patience, hope, and courage. This is a timely and much-needed book for a church tempted to make self-protection more important than discipleship."
--Scott Bader-Saye, Seminary of the Southwest
"A modern-day C. S. Lewis, Sam Wells draws us closer to God's story of eternal love in Be Not Afraid. At times bracing, at other times funny, his words plumb the dark depths of despair and offer hope without triviality, correction without cruelty. This book is a witty, vulnerable, challenging delight, a perfect bedtime companion in dark nights of the soul and a worthy friend when the lights come back on."
--Lillian Daniel, coauthor of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers; contributing editor at Leadership
"In this book of reflections, Samuel Wells makes profound theological insight and artful language seem effortless. Each essay is a gem, the product of deep thought and the wordsmith's craft. This book is so directly addressed to the reader's heart and mind, so precisely on target about the fears that ensnare us, that Wells comes across not as a distant thinker but as a wise, understanding, and compassionate friend."
--Thomas G. Long, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
"Be Not Afraid is a word for our time, delivered with the thoughtfulness of C. S. Lewis and the authenticity of Billy Graham. Sam Wells is a great gift to the church today. Listen to him."
--Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of New Monasticism
About the Author
Samuel Wells (PhD, University of Durham) is vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church at Trafalgar Square in London. He previously served as dean of the chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke University. He is the author of several books, including Power and Passion and Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Samuel Wells, Author and the dean of the chapel as well as the research professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University answers the question, "What do we do when we experience fear as a disciple of Christ" quite well in his book. In a word, using a very Biblical word, you face your fear or fears with Faith. It sounds simple enough but it can be and is difficult to do at times for us as mortals dressed in a robe of sinful flesh. But the good news as author Wells shares with us as the reader of his book, it is quite possible to face our fear and overcome it with faith.
The book Be Not Afraid consists of six parts; the first being, "Be Not Afraid of Death." The second part of the book is titled, "Be Not Afraid of Weakness," Part 3 is "Be Not Afraid of Power," and then in part 4, "Be Not Afraid of Difference," and Part five, "Be Not Afraid of Faith," and finally Part 6 is titled, "Be Not Afraid of Life."
In each section Author Wells writes about how to specifically and practically face each of the six types of fear that we experience as humans as we are passing through this world on our way to Heaven where there will be nothing to fear and thus no more fear. Using Scripture, quotes and stories from the lives of real people, as well as the wisdom and understanding he has gleaned about fear, God and faith from his years of experience as a pastor, preacher, teacher, chaplain, community leader and fellow mortal, he is well qualified to encourage us as his reader that in all of life's challenges, "Be Not Afraid." And it is faith in God that he writes that is foundational for us to keep us from feeling fear as we experience the harsh realities of life and death, weakness, power, difference, faith and life.
In Part 1 author Wells writes about the one experience that all people probably fear the most and that is death. If it is not the thing that people fear the most it is definitely somewhere at the top of the list. In this part of the book he reveals to us "How to Die." He also addresses the issue of whether God heals or not. And then in the final section of Part 1 he writes about what he refers to as the 5 W's and how they are the 5 questions "you need to answer to have a good handle on any situation." The questions are Where? What? Who? When? and Why?
It bears repeating that the author's foundation upon which he builds his argument concerning the fact that we can face and properly handle our fears is based on his personal beliefs in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God. And I do agree with the author concerning his beliefs as I too believe in God's Sovereignty and Goodness and have found since I have been a disciple of Christ that as I grow in my relationship with God and his Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it becomes easier and easier for me to face and handle my fears. And that is because I no longer have to face or handle the experiences that can cause me to fear on my own. I have and we all have as lovers of God and Disciples of Christ the person of the Holy Spirit and the living and powerful Word of God to encourage us and keep us strong in those times where we face life experiences that could cause us to fear. Not that I have attained a measure of perfection in regards to my response to life's challenges as I have most certainly not, but with God's help and enablement, it is getting much easier for me to face my fear with Faith.
In the remaining 5 parts of his book, author Wells addresses how we are to face and handle our fear with faith in regards to the areas of weakness, power, difference, faith in life. And to quote the words of our president, "YES WE CAN!"
I give this book 5***** and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to face their fears with faith for as sure as "God has made little green apples," and "it does rain in Indianapolis in the summertime," you are going to experience life which could cause you to want to fear. And if you read this book and the Word of God and apply what you learn, you will not just be able to "face your fear" but you will be able to overcome it triumphantly through your faith in the true, powerful and living God.
I received a complementary copy of Be Not Afraid from Brazos Press for reviewing it.
"[Fear] is an emotion that identifies what we love. The quickest way to discover what or whom someone loves is to find out what they are afraid of. We fear because we don’t want to lose what we love. We fear intensely when we love intensely . . ."
With this in mind, Samuel Wells takes aim for the places in us where fear abides. Gut, head, heart, and hand — these are the targets for Samuel Wells’ reflections on overcoming fear.
Wells sets his sites on six huge nemeses that keep us awake at night (death, weakness, power, difference, faith, and life itself), and then chisels away at them in essays that are both incisive and surprising. His connections between the Bible and life inspire a simultaneous “Wow” and “Of course!” For instance, having loved Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven since college days, and having taught Jesus’ parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep countless times, how have I missed putting them together?
"God is the hound of heaven who searches us out and knows us; God in Christ is the good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to come and find us; God in Christ is the women who cared so much that she set everything aside to find us . . . Faith is not a heroic journey: faith is the acceptance of being found."
With an eye for detail balanced by an ability to see Scripture as a whole, Wells crisscrosses between the testaments ( Red Sea crossing to Jesus’ baptism); points out startling similarities between biblical narratives (“If you are the Son of God . . .” was hurled at Jesus in His temptation as well as on the cross); and skewers his reader with theological concepts that are practical and convicting (“The Trinity isn’t a support structure for the Father to be the star.”)
Samuel Wells develops his arguments with a writing style that is as methodical as an equation and as poetic as the gospel. The progression of thought in his view of healing as the “sandwich filling” between salvation and eternal life occupied my mind for an afternoon on a riding lawn mower.
With humor that is really more a crooked smile than a chuckle, he quotes C.S. Lewis, referring to him simply as “one Irish writer,” and laments the lack of dentists and deodorant in first century Palestine. Many evangelicals will find that when Wells uses the term “baptism,” we would use the term “salvation,” (and he makes the connection himself in his chapter called “Born Again”), but based on Chapter 21, Wells would say that we should not fear that difference.
Fearless, the author takes on the language of “Father,” challenges us to shed the “cloak” of status, and invites the body of Christ to use the language of lament to look squarely into the sadness of AIDS. Most practically, the three words, “Can We Talk,” will go with me as a bridge into my next confrontational conversation. Most unforgettably, the author brings the journalist’s “Five W’s” into Isaiah 43 to address the “profound and justified fears that can bring us to our knees: death, pain, guilt and isolation.”
I recommend a slow and thoughtful reading of Be Not Afraid, although you will be tempted to take it on in great gulps. Since Wells has presented it in thirty-one chapters, a chapter a day for a month would be delightful. And life-changing.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.