Friday, August 03, 2012

Book Review for Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson

Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith
By Matthew Lee Anderson
ISBN 978-0-7642-0856-0
Published by Bethany House
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Much has been made of the body and embodiment in philosophy, mainline theology, and other disciplines in recent years. Unfortunately, much of evangelicalism has avoided this rather common trend in thought, and instead embraced a dualistic view of the universe that at times comes across as nearly Gnostic.

Matthew Lee Anderson in his book Earthen Vessels attempts to remedy this shortsightedness in much of evangelical Christianity by trying to describe what an embodied evangelical journey of discipleship looks like. In the process, he establishes some general principles for how we live with our bodies in the world for the glory of God. He also tackles a number of controversial issues that many Christians don't spend a lot of time thinking about, but that are very much a part of people's lives, especially folks that are younger evangelicals.

The parts of the books that I gravitated to were more topical in nature. How do we understand homosexuality in light of our responsibility to "embody" the gospel? Can anyone make an argument for or against tattoos without simply trying to interpret one verse in Leviticus (Anderson does do this, in my opinion)? How should Christians understand the practice of yoga, and should they participate? These questions and more are discussed in a wise and intelligent manner by this fine author. There are several times where I strongly disagree with Anderson, but I respect the way he presents his opinion. Namely, he shares his thinking with clarity of thought, humility, and conviction in what he believes.

This book is not for everyone, and I was surprised to see it come out as a paperback "Christian living" book. There is a lot of well-communicated, well-reasoned theology in this text, and it definitely meets a need for this kind of book in the evangelical world.

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