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    Review Introduction: The Organic God

    July 12, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    This is the first of a series of at least four posts {including this one} dedicated to discussing a book that was sent to me, free of charge, for the purpose of reviewing. I have created a format I try to follow when I do an “official” book review. If you are new around here, you might want to check out The Book Review Formula before you read this series.

    The book in question is The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg. Feinberg is hailed as an expert on twentysomethings, for anyone who is interested in such things. Since I and most of my readers fall into this category, I figured this was pertinent information.

    Before I begin this series, I want to get a couple things out of the way.

    A Hard Book to Read
    I have to admit that it has been a long time since I have read a book that was so difficult to read. I would have to say that it was a struggle, which is hard for me to say since struggle is one of my least favorite words. But, seriously, this is true.

    I would classify Feinberg’s writing style as postmodern. One of the things that is hard for me when reading Christian postmodern nonfiction {that was a mouthful} books is that the author is often personally tied up with the assertions made about God. The struggle comes in when I, with my critical eye, attempt to test for truth. I get this feeling that I am not just judging the assertions made by the author, but the author herself.

    And I just don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings.

    It’s silly, I know, especially since the author {in this case, Feinberg} is highly unlikely to ever read my review. But still, I have this urge to overlook the flaws much in the manner one would overlook the flaws of a friend. But imagine sitting down with a friend for coffee and this friend begins to say things that are somewhat alarming. Imagine the tension that would build up inside while trying to decide how to respond. I felt that tension while reading this book.

    Not that every page was full of heresy, but still I felt this.

    God Gets a New Name
    This is what is written on the back of book:

    Imagine what it would look like to have an organic relationship with God–one that is stripped of all pollutants and additives of this world.

    The Organic God removes the unhealthy fillers and purifies our relationship with the God of the Scriptures. Through personal stories and biblical insights, Margaret Feinberg shares glimpses of God’s character–bighearted, kind, beautiful, mysterious–that point you to an authentic and naturally spiritual relationship with him, allowing you to truly discover God in a healthy, refreshing new way so that you can’t help but fall in love all over again.

    Needless to say, I entered my reading relationship with this book expecting to have a lot of cultural issues dealt with. It is true that every Christian has areas where cultural or personal issues cloud out the view of God. My expectation was that Feinberg would teach how to clear that cultural dust away so that the reader’s view of God was through the clear lense of Scripture alone.

    And some of this was done.

    Ahem.

    However, Feinberg also renamed God. I don’t really know what else to call it, so I’m telling it like it is. Midway through the book, and then on until the end, she beging to use capital-O, capital-G Organic God as a proper noun. Sentences will start with, “The Organic God does this.” Or, “The Organic God does that.”

    This made me extremely uncomfortable.

    I do not gather from the book that Feinberg is an irreverant person, and yet renaming God, or at least giving Him a new title, seems exactly that. Naming something, in the Biblical sense, always implies an authority by the naming party over what {or who} is being named. Think about it. In the Garden of Eden, God creates a man and names him Adam. He commands Adam to have dominion. As an exercise of his dominion, God brings the animals to Adam, and Adam names them. After all of this has taken place, God creates woman and brings her to Adam, and Adam names her. Adam, as head of his household, names woman as a display of his authority over, and also responsibility for, Eve.

    Throughout the Bible, parents always name children {unless God directly tells the parents exactly what the child’s name is to be}, but children never name parents. It would be disrespectful to name one’s parents. And sometimes, God changes a man’s name {like when God named Israel}, as a sign of an encounter with Him.

    In my opinion, even daring to rename the Lord of Hosts is shaky ground, regardless of whether or not there was any real ill intent involved. I am much more comfortable with sticking to the exact titles and names of God that have been revealed in the Bible, especially when calling God “Organic” seems to be more connected to the fact that organic anything is cool right now, rather than trying to communicate something that is actually true about God.

    On to the Review
    Now that I have those two issues out in the open, I feel I am ready to begin my reviews. Lord willing, the category of “Good” will post tomorrow.

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    1 Comment

  • Reply Lydia July 13, 2007 at 2:44 am

    Looks like you have some well-thought out ideas about the book at this point. I can tell I am going to appreciate much of what you write on this blog. You are truthful and bold but also honest about yourself and humble. Very refreshing to find.

    I will be looking ahead for your next part on this review. Hopefully, the last part of my review on “Getting Serious About Getting Married” with appear either tomorrow or early next week. I have a bit more “tweaking” to do on it. I have a full weekend already planned.

    God bless you and your family. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog, as well.

    ~Lydia

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