Love, Prayer and Forgiveness Paperback – Aug 10 2004
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Two excellent items standout that I refer to all the time:
A. The Holiness of the word 'And': Mike talks about how we've become unbalanced because we have left out a joining word called 'And'. Some of us would like to fill our Churches and personal lives with "love" but are lives are still hollow and without meaning. Why? Mike illustrates very effectively that the other part of love, joined by the word 'And' in God's Word are 'love and faithfulness', 'love and truth' or 'love and obedience'. When we get the word 'And' in the right spot we keep our love in balance by also keeping the expectations that love will show itself in a correct way. Mike uses the excellent analogy of Solomon not cutting the baby in half - in an effort to preserve real love - when he was in front of the two prostitutes seeking a correct judgement. In the same analogy the unbalanced woman wanted to cut the child in half - a reflection of those who want 'love' today without any accountability. Truth is seldom found alone but usually has 2 parts. Understanding this, like Solomon, brings life and healthy correction to our lives.
B. "I before E - except after C": Mike uses this rule that we learned back in grade school to artfully illustrate how the exceptions today in society are trying to take the place of the rules. He rights the ship by reminding us to keep the known rules that work and call the exceptions as they are.
I know Mike struggled with the forgiveness issue and I didn't agree with that chapter totally [forgiveness writings that are balanced and carefully thought out are RARE] but this is an excellent work and I highly recommend it.
Michael Snow introduced his reader to the idea of ‘the holy conjunction’. Divorced from their position in Scripture, he writes how love, prayer, and forgiveness take on a life of their own. They are twisted, maimed, and manipulated for the self. “God’s word holds these things dear and holds them closely together: love and obedience; prayer and exhortation; forgiveness and repentance. Our failure to hold these essentials together is a failure to hold to God’s word and to honor it by our diligent study and attention.”[i] He is technical but not unapproachably so. More beneficial to the reader, Snow is conscious that readers with varying degrees of ‘Christian literacy’ will read this book; so, all declaratives are saturated with clarifying remarks to avoid confusion.
Snow uses illuminating antidotes, metaphors, and patterns to develop his thesis on ‘holy conjunctions’. He accomplishes this with remarkable success. His stories are engaging, truthful, and contemplative. In many ways, his analysis and commentary of contemporary Christianity in light of his thesis resembled to Schaeffer and Colson.
A personal favorite example of his wit is found in chapter two. He writes on Mormon’s assertion that a potential convert should simply pray about the truthfulness of the claims.
Now, do we pray about this new teaching which completely contradicts the Bible? Or do we turn to God’s word for our response?—“Before me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after me” (Isa. 43:10; etc.).
And if we pray about it, what happens to our beliefs if the salsa we ate for supper makes sweat break out on our brow and lights a fire in our belly? Do we make a decision based upon a burning feeling [like Mormons]?
It’s easy to mock Mormons, so he turns to a persistent evangelical problem: divorce. He tells the story of a hypothetical wife who wants to divorce her husband. Upon confrontation, she defends herself by appealing to her prayer and ‘peace’. When the husband appeals to the elders in the church, they assure him that they are praying for the situation to resolve itself. Later, the husband sees that she is teaching Sunday School! The elders defend themselves: “She attends church faithfully, she even brought a new family here last week, and she is going to school to be a teacher. We do pray about these things.” The gospel loses teeth with the absence of the ‘holy conjunction’; prayer apart from exhortation destroys the gospel.
This excerpt demonstrates Snow’s ability to tell stories to make his points. It’s a short read at just 140 pages. His five chapters survey corresponding commands. For the first and second chapters, love is paired with obedience, and prayer is with exhortation. In his third chapter, forgiveness in joined with repentance. Sin and silence with revival and holiness comprise the last two chapters.
Everyone will enjoy reading this accessible – but challenging – book.