When reading a book, there are so many variables that enter into the process, each of which, to some degree or another, impact the result of the time invested. Some of these would include the relevance or importance of the subject matter to the life of the reader, the writing style employed by the author, affinity for, or aversion to, that author, the accuracy of handling facts and opinions, among others. And I might suggest that for readers who profess a faith in Jesus Christ, there is a spiritual element that must be considered, as we seek and receive discernment from God as to the content of the book being read.
I picked up Take Charge Of Your Life, largely on the favorable recommendation of Tim Challies, a well know Christian book reviewer and blogger. He focused on the apparent contradiction between what could be a first impression of the book, based on its title and cover layout, suggesting that many might confuse it with a Joel Osteen genre book. Instead Challies suggested that this book was filled with substance that would otherwise be lacking in anything written by Osteen. You can read Challies comments HERE.
I am afraid that I find little agreement with Challies on this particular book. By all rights, I should benefit from such a subject, but in spite of its theoretical relevance and importance to me in this particular chapter of my life, I found relatively little that was helpful between the covers. Dr. Ganz writing style might be fine for some, and I might be the only one off-put by it, but I found him using thousands of words to make a point when a few dozen would have sufficed. He seemed to take three steps forward and two back, in order to effectively advance one step, if that makes sense. Further, he seemed to be making the same few points over and over and over again. And the few points he made were not all that special, earth shattering or significant. I never really felt like I was being taken anywhere through the process of reading, even though structurally, he seemed to have a plan.
And there was another matter that was troubling to me, although it took a little time to figure out what it was. And interestingly, Challies missed this in his review of the book, in spite of the fact that he, himself had counseled against it. I have no idea how I stumbled across this particular article that Challies wrote almost 2 years ago, but I did. I am going to attribute it to Providence. In any event, it nails the particular problem I was having with the author’s treatment of scripture. And sure enough, when I checked the first few pages of the book, there it was, the notation that “all scripture references are the author’s paraphrase unless otherwise indicated.” (emphasis, mine)
So here in lies the spiritual conflict that I discovered I had with the book. Dr. Ganz evidently does not have confidence in the essentially literal translation of the Word of God, and to use it to make his points, or better still would be to allow scripture to make its own points upon which the author elaborates. According to Challies, an alternative (albeit a distant second choice) to an essentially literal translation would be to use a well known paraphrased translation like the New Living Translation. Dr. Ganz not only did NOT use a recognized paraphrase translation, he used his own paraphrase.
This seems to me to be the height of arrogance in the use of scripture. One of my complaints with Rick Warren’s highly popular The Purpose Driven Life is the fact that he groped around using no less than 15 translations of the Bible, some literal, some paraphrased, occasionally out of the original context, all to lend credibility to the points he makes in his book. But to his credit, he never re-wrote the scripture verses to create his own paraphrase. While I might have been fooled by this technique a few years ago, I find this practice to be deceptive. And, with apologies to Tim Challies, I think you got this one wrong. On this point alone, this makes Dr. Ganz a whole lot more LIKE Joel Osteen than creating a distinction that separates the two.
I cannot recommend this book and consequently have not linked its title to any online retailer. I would not encourage you to invest your time, but if you feel compelled, I will at least spare you the investment of your money. If you are someone with whom I have a personal relationship, I will loan you my copy.