Sunday, April 28, 2019

Book Review: What If It's True by Charles Martin

About the Book:

Years ago, novelist Charles Martin cracked open his Bible and began wrestling with a few fundamental questions. He asked, “What if every single word of Scripture is absolutely true and I can trust it? How do I respond? Something in me should change, but what? How?” This book is the result of that exploration.
With the depth, sensitivity, and emotion that has made his novels beloved to millions, Charles ignites our imaginations as to what the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ mean to us today. Charles asks, “What if dead and crucified Jesus came back to life by the power of the Holy Spirit and is alive today? Right now. What if that same Jesus, the One who walked out of the tomb shining like the sun, holding the keys of death and hades, is alive in me? I write fiction for a living, and that’s either the craziest thing I’ve ever heard or it’s the most important word ever spoken. You and I have a King who did the unthinkable.”
The answers that his writer’s imagination illuminates for us will change the way we think about the gospel and the way we live because of it.

My Thoughts:

If I described What If It's True? by Charles Martin in one word, it would be... piercing. He doesn't sugar-coat things. He fully believes in the Bible as inerrant and divinely inspired. He calls out false prosperity gospel movements. He tackles heavy topics such as rejection, resignation, sexual sin, generational curses, and forgiveness. He also devotes time to the love of God as being the basis of everything Christians believe and extending to anyone, no matter how far gone that person may seem.

In What If It's True?, Charles Martin stirs interest with a well-written narrative and then starts probing deeply into his topic. He uses a lot of Scripture and draws Old Testament and New Testament connections that I never noticed even though I've been a Christian for many years. While the focus is on spiritual matters, he shares some of his own struggles and situations. He does use plenty of imagination in his retellings of Biblical events. Some parts seemed more realistic than others. This didn't bother me, but others may balk at it.

I felt that the chapter on forgiveness missed the mark. As someone who has had to forgive some hard things, I know the beauty and necessity of forgiveness. Unfortunately, forgiveness was presented with a “forgive others or else God won't forgive you and you'll be separated from Him” mentality. Yes, I know there are verses that support that view. But as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can say that is not what I needed to hear years ago when I was dealing with the muck and mire. What I needed to hear was.... God will guide and help you every step of the way. No, you haven't forgiven yet. Yes, you need to forgive. But God is with you and for you, even when you just aren't there yet. The author did give a few statements about abusive situations, but given how many abused, deeply broken people there are, I think it merits more than a few paragraphs about how forgiveness and justice can co-exist.

What If It's True? wasn't easy to read. I cried... a lot. I could only handle a chapter a day, at most. Sometime in the future, I'd like to go back and read it even more slowly. I loved the prayers he put at the end of almost every chapter. I cried as I prayed them. They helped me to explore and pray more thoroughly than I would have been able to on my own.

I recommend What If It's True? by Charles Martin to Christians seeking to deepen their relationship with God and find greater spiritual freedom. If you've read his fiction novel, Long Way Gone, you may remember he ends with an essay about how no one is too far gone. That particular essay is included in What If It's True?, but is actually one of the shorter chapters. So, if you aren't sure if you want to try What If It's True?, go back and read that ending essay in Long Way Gone to get a taste.

What If It's True? earned a five star rating from me.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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