Welcome, friends, to my second attempt at Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. Today's review: As Silver Refined, by Kay Arthur.
As Silver Refined
Kay Arthur is well known in the genre of inductive Bible studies for her books that help believers better understand God's Word. I had never heard of her until I saw As Silver Refined amongst my review possibilities. And the premise looked excellent.
Christians often face painful situations with the question "Why?" Job loss, medical problems, infidelity, and children leaving the church throw us reeling back to the foundation of our faith. Such circumstances force us to seek pithy answers explaining God's love in the midst of tribulation. Kay Arthur, in As Silver Refined, desires to provide some of these answers. And her premise is very encouraging to begin with: We are all in the hands of the Master Refiner. He knows the correct heat of the flame to remove our dross.
But I couldn't finish the book. And though the reason may seem petty on first consideration, I couldn't justify continuing. In one of her examples, Arthur talks about some struggles she had in her thought life as a young Christian. I could relate to this struggle, as I had battled some of the things she did. But Arthur's mistake lay in including the actual thought. She clearly portrayed it as a wrong thought, and emphasized the fact that her mind needed refining to remove the dross. But the italicized sentence itself caused the issue. It was a thought blasphemous towards christianity, and at the end of it was a vulgar swear word.
First of all, it's not the fact that Arthur opened up this struggle that I have a problem with. And it seems petty on the surface to pick a point with this. After all, I'm notorious for using white-out wherever necessary. It's one word. Cover it up, and move on. But four considerations, along with a discussion with my parents, put an end to the book.
1. The word itself was vulgar
Had Arthur chosen a more polite way of expressing the issue, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But the swear word she included is not in the common run among conservative Christian circles, and many people are unaware of its existence. While I might be able to cover it up and move on, I couldn't recommend it to my circle of acquaintances, because I wouldn't want to be the instrument of adding trash into their minds. It's only one word. But it only takes one to destroy years of protection and careful guarding. Let's face it my friends. We don't have to go out of our way to increase our knowledge of evil. But we do have to do so to avoid it.
2. It's not about how much we can get away with, but how close we can get to God.
The question is not whether or not we 'can' do something, but whether or not we 'should'. And in our reading, or in the case of the author, our writing, we should have the mindset 'is this as close to God's standards as I can get?' I know multiple Christian authors who include sound biblical teaching and deeply personal stories without including objectionable content.
3. Kay Arthur could have done it better.
Arthur didn't have to include the swear word--and even if she did, she doesn't have to use such a vulgar one. As odd as this sounds, some swearing is better than others. Though I use white out on all profanity, there are certain boundaries of propriety that I won't even cover up. It goes in the trash.
4. She has thousands looking up to her example.
The final point: Arthur is a popular Christian teacher. She has thousands looking up to her, thousands imitating and learning from her. It is her duty in this position to maintain as irreproachable an image as she can through the grace of God. Whenever anyone is in the position of leadership, they have the added responsibility of maintaining an untainted testimony. And as a Christian leader, there are some writer's tactics that you just can't use. Leadership requires sacrifice even of things we 'could' do, because we're thinking of the weaker brethren following in our footsteps.
Finally, I would include the disclaimer that this critique is only for As Silver Refined. Kay Arthur has written 100+ books, and though I have never read any of them, I would assume that many of them contain clean and unobjectionable content. In As Silver Refined, it's not the premise--not even the theology that's wrong. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In this case one of her examples was a very weak link. I recommend you read chapter one in the links below. But beyond that, I don't endorse this particular work.
We're all in the hands of the Master Refiner. And our refining continues no matter how far we've walked life's road.
Though I do not personally recommend As Silver Refined, you may wish to check out Kay Arthur's testimony, biography, and other reviews of this book. Waterbrook Multnomah has provided these links for your reading pleasure:
Follow Kay on Twitter
Read Chapter One (nothing objectionable)
And if you would like to help me out with my points on Blogging For Books, head on over here and rate my review! :) Be sure to click the confirmation link you'll recieve in your email so that the rating is accepted. I received this book for free from the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging For Books program. I was not required to give a favorable review, and I have expressed my clear and honest opinion.
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