Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

A couple of weeks ago I received an early Christmas gift – a preview copy of Mark Batterson’s latest book, Primal. I’m a pretty big fan of Batterson’s work, not only as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC, but even more so as an author. Last year, I used his book, “Wild Goose Chase” with a group of guys for an early morning Wednesday study and it was a tremendous resource as we pursued the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Straight up, Primal is an excellent read. There are very few books that I read cover to cover and this was one of the rare ones that captured my attention from the first page to the last. Batterson is a gifted storyteller and whether he is describing his descent down the stairs of the Church of San Clemente in Rome, his son Josiah’s adventures in sleepwaking or the remarkable story of Jasper Toe’s vision and his subsequent conversation to Christ – Batterson has the capacity to engage your mind and your heart and invite you into the story that God is writing in your life and mine.

The soul of the book is a call to a new reformation – Batterson writes:

“Reformations are not born out of a new discoveries. Those are often called cults. Reformations are born out of  rediscovering something ancient something primal. They are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically applied to our lives.”

The primal truth Batterson calls the people of God to rediscover and reimagine is the Great Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” Primal explores the four elements of the Great Commandment – compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power – and invites his readers to become a part of a movement that turned the world right-side up two thousand years ago.

One of the things I most appreciate about Batterson’s writing is his ability to bring fresh perspective to Scripture. Let me provide one example. In a section entitled, “Idea Stewardship,” Batterson illuminates Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Most of us view this text in negative terms. Take our sinful thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. And while the text certainly contains that truth, Batterson suggests,

“This verse is also about capturing creative thoughts and keeping them in our minds. It means stewarding every word, every thought, every impression, and every revelation inspired by the Spirit of God. I call them God ideas. And the way we create culture and change culture is by taking those God ideas captive and turning them into reality via blood, sweat and tears.” (117)

Make Primal one of your first reads in the New Year. Or even better – in the week between Christmas and New Year, pick up a copy and head into 2010 ready to join a new reformation of men and women, boys and girls living compassionately, creatively, and courageously for the cause of Christ in our world today.

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