Free Book

Free Book
Ever thrifty, a search for free books for reviewers led me to Thomas Nelson, Inc. I signed up so that I would have an additional source of books to review. This week’s book was supplied for free as part of their book blogger program, however; neither the publisher nor the author had any influence over the review content. As I perused their site, Brian Tome’s book, Free Book stood out. Tome, a prior youth pastor, was encouraged by friends to start his own group for people who were disillusioned with the religious establishment but who still cared about God. This “group” grew into Crossroads, a church of over 12,000 people.

Free Book presents Tome’s views on the oppression of religious law and the freedom promised by God. His philosophy is centered around 2 Corinthians 3:17 which states “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [freedom is used for liberty in translations other than the KJV]. Tome presents the view that God is love and desires for us to be free not constrained by law. When saved, we should not feel further away from God because of a set of religious constraints.

In the beginning, he relayed a story which generated negative email from a congregant. The story centered around a church Super Bowl party at which there was alcohol. When criticized, Tome felt the congregant was being judgmental. In his words, Tome presented the argument that alcohol was bad for some but not for all. He made passing reference to the Bible containing instances of drinking.

This concerned me. The Bible states we are responsible for each other and should not cause someone to stumble [lead astray, sin]. I agree that we should be encouraging loving relationships with God and not creating a system of rules a person needs to follow in order to ensure their prayers are heard. I do not agree with advocating alcohol at church events.

Further into the book, as Tome relates additional stories and explains further scriptural interpretations, it becomes clear that he does not think being free is about total freedom to do what you want whenever you want. He explains that freedom has a price. By being free, we choose to submit ourselves to God and one another [he references the many stories of submission in the Bible]. In so doing, we obey the 10 Commandments and God’s laws out of love. He ends by explaining the need for grace with truth. 100% truth is being bound by the law while 100% grace leads one astray by being too accepting of all situations regardless of what is written in the Bible. Freedom in God is about living your life to the fullness of God’s intention for you, being charitable, and being part of a community.

On the cover of Free Book, Brian Tome claims to be a fanatic about freedom. He promises to deliver a hard hit that will change the way you view the religious system and religion, itself. Wow! Sounds like a lot. It even sounds like something new and innovative. It's not. While he states the world does not need another book about the cross, rather, it needs a book about freedom, it really isn't THAT different from several other books on the market. Tome's book is about leading the life God intended you to lead without being fearful. It is about the importance of building community, charitable works, submitting to one another, and obeying God's laws. While it had good points, the book was not as hard hitting, fanatical or innovative as promised.

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