Book Review: Beautiful Outlaw, by John Eldredge

From time to time, you will find me writing a review on a book that I’ve recently finished, it might not be the best written book review in the world, but more than likely it will be on a book that I think might be helpful.  I don’t think I could waste my time writing a review for a book I don’t like or that I thought wasn’t helpful, but you do find reviews like that, just spend a couple of minutes on Amazon.  Last time, I shared with you a great book about the canon of Scripture, appropriately named:  The Canon of Scripture.   Here is another one of those posts.  Review time!

John Eldredge is one of my favorite authors, he has been for quite some time; ever since my father handed me a copy of Wild At Heart to read about seven years ago or so.  Although I’ve never met the man, I consider him to have mentored me through his writing, or maybe more correctly that God has mentored me through his writings.  Now, I haven’t enjoyed all of his writings.  Desire, The Sacred Romance, Walking With God each had good things in them, but I didn’t enjoy them quite as much as, say, Wild At Heart, Way of the Wild Heart (aka Fathered by God), Epic and Waking the Dead.

Beautiful Outlaw definitely goes into the latter category.  I first read this book in 2011, needless to say, I enjoyed this book…immensely.

The tag-line on the front of the book is intriguing to say the least:  Experiencing the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus.  This is what John Eldredge sets out to do in this book.  Drawing from the accounts and records that we have of Jesus in the Gospels, Eldredge seeks, in a very real and sincere way, to bring these accounts to life.  In the first twelve chapters, of which I regard to be the best part of the book, Eldredge takes to picking out and magnifying traits of Jesus’s personality that, if veiled by religious fog or tradition, are often overlooked and ignored.  Here is a sampling of the Chapter titles:  The Playfulness of God and The Poison of Religion (Ch 1), Fierce Intention (Ch 4), Extravagant Generosity (Ch 6) and Cunning (Ch 9).

This book came out late 2011(October I think), and I was eagerly looking forward to reading it.  At the time, I had already listened to an audio CD by John Eldredge called The Life of Jesus, which is basically the genesis of what would become Beautiful Outlaw.  I was also on the Ransomed Heart Ministries mailing list and for the past ten months or so and was receiving advanced excerpts of the book.  I was hooked.  This was going to be good.

On occasion, when I get a new book, I will let it sit for a week, a couple of months, sometimes a year before I dig into it.  Call me crazy, but I chalk part of that up to being led by the Spirit and part of that up to reading it at the right time.  When I read this book it was during the Christmas season of 2011; a very interesting season in my life.

Long story short:  It was a breath of fresh air.

I let the book sit for the next year and a half before picking it up again at the end of June for my second time through.  I still immensely enjoyed the first twelve chapters, the last chapters (13 – 17) are O.K., there are still good bits in them, a few things I don’t necessarily agree with but that really doesn’t matter.  I enjoyed the different accounts of Jesus that Eldredge was bringing out more than anything.

In matters of trying to make sense of encounters we find with Jesus in the Gospels, John Eldredge goes a great job at bringing light, color and texture to the verse.

You’ll never look at the Wedding in Cana or the Raising of Lazarus or Jesus’s encounter on the Emmaus Road again.

Enjoy.

908 Bottles of Wine…

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