“Primal” – Mark Batterson’s Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

Primal by Mark Batterson
The book "Primal" by Mark Batterson

I love the title “Primal”. The cover looks like a cross between “Indiana Jones” and “The Mummy”. So, when I opened the package and pulled the book out I was excited and ready to begin an adventure. I wasn’t disappointed. What I didn’t know before I dove into the book was how close to home it would hit, and how much of an impact that I hope it will have on me…

Mark Batterson’s latest book, “Primal” comes out on December 22nd (you can order it here). I was fortunate to be given a pre-release copy by the publisher to review on this blog, so in the interest of full disclosure, I got the book for free, but am receiving no other compensation for this review. That being said, I would gladly have paid for this copy and and after devouring it I think you should consider making it your first read for 2010. I’m considering making it a late Christmas gift for several people myself.

The title of my blog is “Reckless Abandon” and my tagline is “…with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” which is from Mark 12:30 (the Great Commandment, where Jesus instructs us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”). Coincidentally this is the central theme of “Primal”, and in this book Mark Batterson helps us rediscover the ancient truths about the four ways to love God in deeper and more meaningful ways. He does this not through some deep theological (and theoretical) discussion, but through real life examples and relevant stories from his life and the lives of other contemporaries.

Loving God with all your heart (compassion), soul (wonder), mind (curiosity), and strength (energy) is what Batterson calls love to the fourth power, and he dissects the four components of this verse in detail throughout the book. I know I’ve often read that verse, and in fact I’ve read the entire Bible a few times, but reading it is not the same as meditating on it and letting it speak to you in your specific circumstance at that specific time. Batterson writes on page 71:

According to rabbinic tradition, every word of sacred Scripture has seventy faces and six hundred thousand meanings. If I had to describe Scripture in a single word, it would be kaleidoscopic. You can read the same verse on different occasions and it will speak to you in totally different ways. It reminds me of the adage attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “You never step into the same river twice.” In a similar vein, you never read the same verse of Scripture the same way twice. And that is a testament to its divine Author.

I admire Batterson’s scholarly research and thoroughly enjoyed the dozens of “nuggets” of wisdom he dug up from a variety of sources. To me those extensive anecdotal stories and quotes by themselves are enough to make me recommend this book, but when you add in all the insight and storytelling ability of Batterson it moves this book into the category of a “must read.”

Pastors and small group leaders should give this book a serious look. There is more than enough information here to put together a great sermon series, and your book club or small group could spend weeks discussing the search for the lost soul of Christianity and how to love God to the fourth power.

If you’ve read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, so feel free to leave me a comment.

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