Monday, June 25, 2012

Twelve Ordinary Men [Book Review]

It's that time again to review a book. This one is a favorite of mine for a variety of reasons. Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur (Amazon link here - note, no Kindle version available).

If you're going to select a group of 12 men with the sole purpose of teaching them to change the world, fisherman and tax collectors would not be the people to start with. Yet that is what happened. In this book, John MacArthur explores the uncommon calling that 12 men followed when Jesus told them to "follow me".

MacArthur devotes considerable time to each disciple, including the Scripture describing their calling, key quotes that reveal their characters, and what happened to them post-Resurrection. Each man had his own character flaws, but, as MacArthur explains, Jesus used those flaws as teaching points which led to character changes. As you read, you realize that each man brought a different strength to the group that made up for others' weaknesses, which is smart if you're trying to change the world one person at a time. I liked the fact that MacArthur really took the time in each chapter to go over how valuable each disciple was and how we can model ourselves after each - except Judas Iscariot, because he isn't the model we need to follow. He especially went into detail about the "big four" - Peter, Andrew, James, and John, since those are the most prominent ones. With the information given, he actually does a good job describing the "minor" disciples. I especially like the fact that he detailed (with as much detail as history gives) what happened at the end of their lives, where you see the impact of the change in their hearts and lives.

While I have pointed out what I do like, it wouldn't be a review unless I went over the things I did not like as much. Some of the passages I had to read over a second or third, in part due to the wording. Although I wouldn't consider that a total negative, it's more of a product of how he writes and how I read. But I did have to re-read some paragraphs to make sure I fully understood the point being made. Some people would also assert/complain that MacArthur took some leeway in how he analyzed the disciples and drew out their character traits from the information known about them in the Bible. Everything I read seemed well within the confines of proper interpretation. I didn't say to myself, "That's way off base."

For church leaders or class teachers, this is a nice resource for doing a series or small group on the disciples. For those like me who enjoy good books, this is a must-have for the collection.

-D

*Note: These are my opinions, and no one affiliated with the book contacted me about a review.

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