Nov 30, 2010

The Walk by Shaun Alexander - A Book Review

The Walk: Clear Direction and Spiritual Power for Your LifeI recently was given a copy of a new book by former Alabama and NFL star running back Shaun Alexander called "The Walk: Clear Direction and Spiritual Power for Your Life."  I had the privilege of watching Shaun's career at the University of Alabama and his strong testimony of his faith while a youth pastor in the Birmingham area.  I also had him speak to my students in 2002.  He has always been a solid example for both young people and men of a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

"The Walk" is a good read, especially in the generic "Christian Living" market.  This book is the author's attempt to try and explain a basic concept of discipleship and following Jesus.  Like the title suggests, Alexander utilizes the biblical illustration of "walking" from both the Old and New Testament to define how God intends the Christian life to be lived.  He has tried to write this book to be relevant to people on several places on the Christian journey.  In his words, he defines five stages of this pilgrimage - the Unbeliever, the Believer, the Example, the Teacher, and the Imparter.  Each of these stages shows the need for progressive sanctification.  He also identifies in each stage what he calls the "Trials, Traps, and Victories" of each stage.  This structure helps the reader to easily identify whatever stage he may be in and struggles he may be currently facing.  He also uses the example of Peter in each of the stages to show a biblical example of someone who progressed in his walk with Jesus. 

Don't read this book if you are looking for a theological dialogue on progressive sanctification.  There were some points where I felt like the theological foundations for the author's statements were a little shaky.  I felt at times that passages were used as a proof-text and weren't given careful enough exegesis.  This however is a common trend in most popular Christian living books.  Another concern was possibly an unintended implication that Alexander's athletic success was a result of his obedience to Jesus.  At points the reader might get a taste of a prosperity gospel that suggests that if you "give God all the glory" that God will bless you.  This is indicative of the "Prayer of Jabez" church culture that many times fails to see that sometimes God may bring prosperity and sometimes he may give you a cross.  At times I wish he would have dealt a little more fully with some of the tougher issues of being obedient when God doesn't come through like you suggested.

I don't believe that Alexander is attempting to declare a prosperity gospel - quite the opposite.  I think he has tried to write a very encouraging book to the vast majority of Christians that struggle with everyday obedience to Christ.  For this reason, I think the book is an encouraging read.  I believe that Shaun Alexander has done a great job of leveraging the gifts God has given him to glorify God.  This book is another attempt to do that.  I think many people will be helped and strengthened by reading it.  If you have a football fan in the family, especially in the Southeastern Conference, pick up a copy of this book for him/her.