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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Soul Detox" (Craig Groeschel)

TITLE: Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World
AUTHOR: Craig Groeschel
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012, (240 pages).

"I didn't realize how unhealthy my home was until ....."

This experience of how unhealthy one's inner environment was sets the stage for the mood of the whole book, how to make our insides clean? The road to spiritual purity begins with a confrontation with spiritual pollution. The author proposes to do this in three ways. Firstly, one needs to deal with "toxic behaviors," that include self-deception, gossip, and flattery. These take the form of  false beliefs, lethal words, and hidden sins.

Secondly, one needs to deal with "toxic emotions," especially resentment and bitterness. These are dangerous and eats a person from the inside out. In order to counter that, healing and grace is needed. Groeschel uses three chapters to describe the seriousness of such toxic emotions through three applications; envy, anger, and fear.

Finally, Groeschel turns his guns on "toxic influences." This is a natural flow in which, after cleaning our inner behaviours and emotions, if we do not take care, the external pollution will easily mess one up all over again. External pollutants like materialism, non-stop acquisition, false promises of happiness, and spiritual idols. He suggests practical ways to deal with these, such as sensitivity to modern media profanity, violence, and debased sexuality. Do not underestimate the negative influences of these popular media. The points of entry also need to be addressed. What are we feeding ourselves? What are we exposing ourselves to? The key is to learn to let the Bible help us to test everything. Toxic influences can also come through bad relationships or bad company. He highlights the "toxic trinity" as the "chronic critics," the "controller," and the "tempter." Thankfully, the author uses cutting off all relationships as a last resort, saying that the more mature we are, the more unlikely we are to end any relationship, preferring to remain on a posture of discernment without disconnection. Like Jesus. Groeschel leaves the most intriguing part to the last, the part about bad religion. He critiques legalism and bad religion as those that focuses more on external rather than internal, and internal pride. He brings readers back to the three foundational truths of the gospel.

  1. The way to God's acceptance is never through the law.
  2. The law exposes our need for a Saviour.
  3. Righteousness in God is through Jesus.

The way to counter toxic religion is the pure gospel. The way to effective soul detox is immediately, not later.

My Thoughts

Written primarily to the lay person, this book is a great reminder to Christians at large who have grown too accustomed or comfortable to toxic influences around them. Worse, they have become spiritually polluted. This book reminds us that the world we live in is not a spiritually friendly place. We need to be vigilant against such toxic externals. It also warns us about the dangers of letting our inner souls being polluted and us not doing anything about it. This book reminds me of Anthony Selvaggio's "7 Toxic Ideas Polluting Your Mind." While Selvaggio deals with seven ideas and worldliness, Groeschel prefers to deal with behaviors, emotions, and influences.  Selvaggio's treatise has a heavier academic content while Groeschel focuses on lay ministry. After all, the former is a professor while the latter is a pastor. If I have a critique, I feel Groeschel could have incorporated something about technology or social media. That, Selvaggio has done excellently.

This book can be a good wakeup call for the complacent or lukewarm Christian. It is a fitting reminder that this world is still a very dangerous place to be in. The moment we let this worldliness inside us, we make this world even more dangerous. Very readable and clear, Groeschel has given us a timely warning.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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