Unfortunately, I can't give this book a good review. I can't even give it a complete review because I refuse to read any further. The reason? This book is built on a foundation of heresy! Sometimes it is beneficial to read books that are different than your own beliefs. However, sometimes, it's best to just leave those books untouched! Especially when the book claims to be God-honouring and, instead, leads it's readers astray! Very early in the first chapter, the reader will learn that Mark Maulding had a host of issues growing up. Then, rather than dealing with his issues within Biblical teachings, he distorts Biblical teaching and changes (or rather attempts to change) who God is to suit his fallen self, his own needs. Rather than growing and changing himself to honour God as He really is, Mark instead tries to change who God is. He is now, as a result, worshipping a false God, one crafted in an image he can accept. His views of God are heretical; that it, his views are contrary to Scripture.
What is heresy?
"Regarding biblical Christianity, what is heresy? Second Peter 2:1 says, “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” From this verse, we see that heresy is anything that denies the teaching of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, Paul takes the church to task for having heresies among them—heresies that led to schisms in the body. These verses touch on both aspects of what constitutes heresy in the church: denying the doctrines God has given, and dividing the body He has created. Both of these are dangerous, destructive actions that are soundly rebuked by Scripture. See also 1 John 4:1-6; 1 Timothy 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; and Jude 1." (From https://www.gotquestions.org/heresy-definition.html)
So, in this review, I will address the heresy that seems to be foundational to this entire book:
"Let me be clear, God isn't interested in right and wrong." (Chapter 2, page 30)
Hmm, really? Let's check God's Word on that! And to do so, we need to define something:
Obedience: doing what is right, avoiding what is wrong
"... through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, ..." ~Romans 1:5 ESV Looks like obedience is pretty key to faith!
"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?" ~Romans 6:16 ESV
"And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it." ~ 2 John 6 So apparently love can be equivalent to doing what is right!
What about the example of Christ? "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." ~ Philippians 2:8
"Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants." ~ Exodus 12:24
"Now this is the commandment - the statutes and the rules - that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, ..." ~ Deuteronomy 6:1-3a
"You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him." ~ Deuteronomy 13:4
There are many more references to obedience (doing what is right, following God's commands) throughout Deuteronomy.
"And Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.'" ~ 1 Samuel 15:22
"Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!" ~ Psalm 119:33-40
Words of Jesus: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." ~ Matthew 28:19-20a Here we can see that, in writing, and therefore teaching, that God isn't interested in right and wrong, meaning He's not interested in obedience, Mark Maulding is purposefully going directly against the very words of Jesus Himself!! And in doing so, Mark is leading many others astray. Does this not illustrate what a heretic is? (I'm curious to know why Baker Books chooses to publish such twaddle!)
"Jesus replied, 'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching." ~ John 14:23a
There are so many more verses that show how important obedience, doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, is to our walk with God! I can only conclude that Mark Maulding is teaching heresy and is, therefore, a heretic against the Christian faith!
I cannot and will not recommend this book except to recommend that it be removed from bookshelves.
Mark Maulding is very concerned with grace. And we should be concerned with grace - as we learn in Paul's letter to the Romans, we are saved by grace through faith! So, yes, grace is incredibly important. But Mark goes into a hyper-grace mode and falls into the very trap that Paul warns against when he says "What shall we say then that we go on sinning so that grace may abound? By no means!" (Loose paraphrase.) I'm not saying that Mark is telling everyone to go on sinning, BUT by saying that God isn't concerned with right and wrong IS equivalent to saying that God isn't concerned with sin. And if God is not concerned with sin, what was the point of Christ's sacrifice and why have any faith in Him at all? Mark says that God "is interested in life - you and me living from his life within us!" (page 30). But what life is there with God if it does not first start with the complete forgiveness of all our sins which Christ accomplished on the cross?! God HAS to be concerned with right and wrong or our life with Him is a lie!