Monday, May 28, 2018

Redeeming How We Talk by Ken Wytsma and A J Swoboda

Words are important. They are powerful. An essential question, then, is how does God want us to use words?

The authors aim to help us reclaim the holiness of human speech. Most of the book is theological in nature. The authors explore the conversational ethics of the Bible. The book is more about developing a theology of of speech rather than providing practical ways to have our speech fulfill God's purposes. The authors look at topics of communicating in general like propaganda, advertising and marketing, connecting in the digital age, misinformation, etc.

There were a few topics I found enlightening. One was tapping that “like” button on Facebook. Pretty soon the algorithm will show us only those kinds of posts we like. This confirmation bias reinforces our opinion, helping us to falsely assume we are right. (Loc 310/2163) It points out the larger problem of not seeing or appreciating other viewpoints. The authors lament, “...we are losing our ability to interact with diverse opinions and critically think.” (Loc 316/2163) We tend to stick with our own tribe and do not interact with people who have viewpoints differing from our own.

The authors seem to go off on a tangent on occasion. For example, they have quite a lengthy section on how Christians treated Native American Indians. (Loc 782-809/2163) They also have a long section on church discipline.

There is some practical teaching included. I like their admonition to someone who just needs to get something off their chest. “We don't speak merely because we will feel better for doing it but because it is better for others.” (Loc 1027/2163) They also encourage us to be self-aware and Christ oriented before we let words out of our mouths. (Loc 1177/2163)

This book is a bit academic in nature as the authors quote from many sources. I think the book is geared more toward pastors and theological professionals rather than the general layperson. I do recommend this book to readers who are looking to explore the development of a theology of words and speech. Those looking to just redeem their own language may not find what they are looking for here.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Ken Wytsma is the president of Kilns College where he teaches courses in philosophy and justice. He is the founder of The Justice Conference, a consultant and creative advisor to nonprofits and a sought after speaker on justice, church, and culture. A church planter and lead pastor at Antioch Church, he and his family live in Bend, Oregon.
A. J. Swoboda is a professor, author, and pastor of Theophilus Church in Portland, Oregon. He teaches biblical studies, theology, and church history at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary, among others. He previously served as a campus pastor at the University of Oregon. He is the author or co-author of several books.

Moody Publishers, 224 pages. This book releases June 5.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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