Book Review 31: “Redeeming How We Talk” by Ken Wytsma and A.J. Swoboda

***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***

Ken Wytsma & A.J. Swoboda write an informative book titled Redeeming How We Talk. This book represents the sixth book that I have reviewed for Moody Publishers. In this book, Wytsma & Swoboda (henceforth referred to as “the authors”) seek to “synthesize theology and philosophy” & “…offer a bit of self-help, to reclaim the holiness of human speech and the relevance of meaningful conversation for life today” (p. 18). They also claim that to “renew our conversational habits, we must relearn the nature, purpose and practice of godly speech. Only then can we be fully human, honor our Creator, and get closer to the deep relationships we desire” (p. 18). This book also explores the Bible’s conversational ethics (p. 18).

This book has two parts. The first part, titled “The World of Words”, has five chapters (pp. 21-97). The second part, titled “The Words Of God”, has seven chapters (pp. 97-202). The book concludes with a conclusion, acknowledgements, notes and an “About The Author” page (pp. 203-221).

In part one, the authors focus mainly on the effects of communication, propaganda, the digital age, information itself and hard conversations (pp. 21-97). Unfortunately, they don’t do the best job in being careful with who they quote. The first part opens with a quote by N.T. Wright, a false teacher (p. 19). While this does not fully negate some of the good points and information the authors show (especially the information on propaganda, the digital age and technology in chapters two through four), the quote nevertheless shows a lack of discernment on the part of the authors. This lack of discernment continues when the authors seemingly hint at endorsing the Word-Faith heresy when they state that the “right words can free us to define our circumstances, and we can set others free by the words we speak over them” (p. 33). This deification of words is eerily similar to the Prosperity “gospel” (aka the Word-Faith movement). While there is nothing in the book that leads me to believe that the authors endorse the main promoters of this movement (Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc.), the fact the authors would use such language to deify words is bothersome.

Part two starts much like part one; it starts with a quote from a bad source. In this case, it comes from Eugene Peterson, the engine behind the heretical “The Message” “translation” (p. 99; “The Message” is more of a Herephrase than a translation, hence the quotes around translation earlier). The authors cite him on multiple occasions in this part. Furthermore, in the part’s opening chapter (chapter six), the authors cite Wright (again) and another false teacher in Dallas Willard (p. 107). The authors also cite Thomas Merton, a “Trappist monk” who was a big promoter of the unbiblical practice known as contemplative prayer (p. 125). While this lack of discernment is not the worst I have seen, it is bothersome nonetheless.

As for content, part two does well before crash-landing at the end. In the first four chapters of part two, the authors focus on godly speech, wisdom and words, hearing and how Jesus speaks (pp. 99-156). In the chapters on church unity and winning people back, the authors do a good job both showing biblical typology and rightly handling Matthew 18, a passage pertaining to church discipline (pp. 157-182). In the last chapter, the authors crash-land with both their emphasis on speaking “a better world into existence” (which simply oozes of the aforementioned Word-Faith heresy) and their calling different areas of our life “spheres” (p. 185). This “spheres” word is a problem because it is the same word used by a dangerous and heretical movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation (also known as the N.A.R.). The term “sphere” pertains to the anti-biblical Seven Mountain Mandate. While the authors do not detail the exact spheres (or mountains) the Mandate discusses, the use of the word “sphere” is simply another example of the authors’ lack of discernment.

CONCLUSION

While the book has some good insights in some areas, it absolutely lacks discernment in others. The authors could have been more careful in watching their teaching a bit more closely (1 Timothy 4:16). Had they done that, I would recommend this book. Unfortunately, I cannot due to the false teachings/bad sources within it.

GRADE: 2.75 out of 5

 

 

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