Book Review 27: “God Is Able” by Priscilla Shirer

Priscilla Shirer, a “Bible teacher and best-selling author”, wrote a book in 2013 titled God Is Able. In this book, she explores only two verses in Scripture in trying to convey to the reader that God (among other things) cares. This book review examines whether or not this book is one to recommend.

THE REVIEW

As mentioned, Shirer’s book mainly focuses on two verses. The passage is Ephesians 3:21-21. The verses read as follows (NASB):

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Shirer concludes each chapter with these verses. Furthermore, she bolds the specific words that pertain to the chapter. However, you will notice that the words she uses verbatim are not found verbatim in order in any Bible translation. This is worth noting because in the opening pages of her book, she lists the various Bible translations she uses. They include:

  1. The NASB (New American Standard Bible)
  2. The NIV (New International Version)
  3. The NLT (New Living Translation)
  4. The Message (which is a Herephrase)
  5. The ESV (English Standard Version)
  6. The HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Given the translations Shirer states she uses, one would expect the verse she quotes to exactly match one of those translations. However, this is not the case. Here is the passage Shirer cites at the end of each chapter in the book:

Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Here is the NASB translation (repeated from earlier). After this one follows the other translations mentioned earlier in this review. In an effort to highlight the differences between Shirer’s quote and the translations, I use the color orange to show where the differences begin. I color the rest of the text beyond that point orange as well:

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

NIV:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

NLT:

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

The Message:

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

The ESV:

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The HCSB:

20 Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

You will notice after doing the comparative work that the words Shirer uses do not match any of the translations mentioned. Furthermore, with the exception of the NASB, it is not even close to any of them (but close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, not source citation). I even checked other translations via biblegateway.com and Google (these include the King James Versions, the New King James Version, the Amplified Bible, the Passion Translation, The JB Phillips New Testament, and the American Standard Bible, to name a few). Shirer’s quote does not match any of those translations either (or any other translation found on Biblegateway.com). This is a huge problem because it is clear that Shirer does not cite the passage right at all. At best, this is a major gaffe. At worst, this is blatant dishonesty. If one is going to cite a passage (let alone at the end of each chapter in the book, as she does in this book), there is no excuse to cite it wrongly each time. If she cannot get this right, why should I trust anything else within the pages of this book?

Shirer’s motivation for the book (and even the two verses) stems from her hearing a message during her teenage years on those verses from a “young preacher” by the name of Richard Allen Farmer. The verses are definitely good verses. However, they need to be properly understood in context. Beginning at the 1:18:25 mark of this podcast episode, one learns that the book of Ephesians is primarily about the Gospel. In fact, 1:1-3:13 focuses on Jesus Christ and what He has done. Ephesians 3:14-21, which is about “God’s Fullness for the Church”, states the following (NASB):

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

By now, it is clear that these three chapters place much emphasis on Jesus Christ. Shirer, however, parachutes right into the end of this section of chapters 1-3 (usually the sign a message, or in this case a book, may already be headed in the wrong direction) and focuses on certain words of the verses throughout the seven chapters of this book. Sadly, instead of pointing to Christ throughout these chapters, she primarily makes these verses all about you, the reader. Furthermore, she places a heavy focus on the here and now. While she does give a brief summary of what Ephesians 1-3 is about (pp. 20-21), the book is basically all downhill from there. The first chapter alone features, among other things, Scripture-twisting (as she does with John 10:10 on p. 35), narcigesis (p. 28), and an unashamed citation of the heretical Message “translation” (p. 23).

In chapter two, Shirer engages in more Scripture-twisting near the end of the chapter as she narcigetes Numbers 13:30 and John 20:16 (pp. 51-52). Shirer also engages in the Word-Faith heresy with the following quote (p. 46):

“When was the last time you just told your stuff to shut up and go to sleep, and then give your full attention —deliberately and intentionally — to the living LORD? Your Father. Your caregiver. Your provider. And then laid back into the big, strong arms of Psalm 46:10 and got r-e-a-l-l-y still, just lying there “knowing that He is God.””

This question is nonsense. It is suggesting that words somehow create reality. They do not do such a thing. God alone speaks stuff into existence (see Genesis 1). We are not God. Furthermore, where in Scripture does it say we need to tell our “stuff” (I presume she means hardships, circumstances, etc.) to shut up so we may deliberately and intentionally give God our full attention?

The nonsensical, overly self-absorbed “here and now” focus persists throughout the rest of the book. In the process, she:

CONCLUSION

Shirer’s embarrassing gaffe of wrongly quoting Ephesians 3:20-21 multiple times (wrong in the sense it does not match any translations cited as a reference in the book, nor any translation outside of the cited translations when I ran a simple Google search or even a general biblegateway.com search) instantly ruins her credibility. As a result, it prevents this book from having any chance of getting my recommendation. On top of that, it is cluttered with false teachings, Scripture twisting, strange doctrine and narcigesis. Unless you are reading this book for research purposes, stay away.

GRADE: 1.0 out of 5

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