Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: How to Be Perfect

Title: How to Be Perfect
Author: Daniel Harrell
Publisher: Hachette
Pub Date: January 5, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-55717-7
Pages: 240
Genre: Christian Living
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Longtime pastor Daniel Harrell spent years teaching the New Testament and telling the story of Jesus over and over again. Yet he couldn't shake the feeling that he needed to preach more of the Old Testament, too. After all, Jesus was Jewish, and He preached the Old Testament exclusively, since it was the only testament at the time.

So Harell decided to preach the book of Leviticus. "For Jews, and thus for Jesus, Leviticus is the pivotal book of the Hebrew Bible," Harrell explains. "It's impossible to fully comprehend such key New Testament terms as sacrifice, atonement, or blood without some understanding of Leviticus. To obey Jesus is to obey Leviticus."

Harrell wanted to figure out what following Leviticus looked like-not just the well-known command to love your neighbor, but the parts about animal sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, and skin diseases, too. Rather than approaching Leviticus by downplaying it, he decided to try to obey it instead-as Jesus did.

Harrell recruited eighteen church members to join him in a commitment to spend thirty days living Levitically. Holiness was their ultimate goal, but so was experiencing the overwheliming need for God's grace.

This community of Levites-for-a-month posted online updates about their experiences in following the commands of Leviticus. In issues as varied as clothing, hygiene, and breakfast meat, they were surprised to discover God was interested in the minutiae of everyday life. Moreover, they found deeper appreciateion for Old Testament law as joy rather than burden, for the necessity of community, and for the importance of holy rest and celebration. How to Be Perfect shares their unexpected lessons on the power of obedience-and how grace can fuel it.

About the Author:
Daniel Harrell is senior minister of Colonial Church, Edina, Minnesota. For twenty-three years he served as a minister at Park STreet Church in downtown Boston. He lives somewhat obediently by grace in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.

My review:
Pastor Daniel Harrell had the idea to teach Leviticus as a new way of getting the message across to his congregation. He wanted to try something new besides what he had always done over the years. Once he decided to preach from Leviticus, he got the idea of actually living it out as it instructs the reader to do. Harrell recruited eighteen members of his congregation to join him in this endeavor. It wasn't easy for him to convince those eighteen to join him but once they signed up, it was quite an experience for them all.

I enjoyed the book but wanted more. I liked that Harrell quoted much from the scripture and explained it in a way as to show what it meant for the people of the Old Testament and what it could possibly mean for the readers of today. However, the group practiced a pick and choose mentality of what they followed. It was up to each member of the group to decide what parts of Leviticus they would live by. I was expecting this book to follow each member of the group and tell about what they did and how it turned out for them but there were very rare excerpts of postings that group members made on their Facebook page to tell about their own personal experience. I wanted more of hearing from each individual and their experience but the book is more Scripture based and explaining of what the book of Leviticus says.

I recommend this book if you are wanting to learn more about the book of Leviticus and although it doesn't give the detail I wanted from each group member, it is a great way to learn more about the Bible and Jewish law.

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