Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now

The publisher sent me a review copy of Present Perfect by Gregory Boyd. It’s about finding God in the “now”, living mindful of His presence at all times.

Any time I get a book, I do a three or four minute “skim”, then usually a half-hour “read”. Books that are especially good end up being read word-for-word (very few authors make the cut). This is a speed-reading technique that I learned in first grade that has served me well my whole life. I test virtually all reading mater

I really hate to say it, and they probably won’t like it, and maybe won’t send me more books to review… but I cannot recommend this book. Sorry. πŸ™

The author had an experience with God, which was very cool. But he lost me on page 15 when he called those sorts of experiences, “rare”.Β  God wants to have those experiences with us and we can have them… even initiate them!Β  If a person’s perception of encounters with the manifest presence of God is that they are (and should be) rare, they need to chase after God instead of writing books. If someone is having a hard time encountering God or realizing the need to, come hang out with us for a few days with a heart open to encounter HimΒ  πŸ˜‰

One paragraph after he calls these experiences “rare”, he said something that made me smile – then frown. Then almost refuse to continue my three-minute skim:

“God is the God of the living, not the God of the already-past or the not-yet-present. He’s the great “I AM”, not the great “I was” or the great “I will be.” He’s been present in every moment in the past, for which we can be thankful, and He’ll be present at every moment in the future, which gives us great hope. But He’s only alive and active now, in the present — which is, once again, the only thing that’s real.” (This is not an exact quote. I have capitalized the pronouns relative to God because I feel that this should be done as one small way to give Him the honor and glory that He is due. Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, to the point that I really have problems reading a book (or Bible translation) that does not capitalize pronouns that should be capitalized. And I will change the capitalization in a quote.)

Boyd is right – God is the God of the living. He IS the Great I AM, but to say He’s only alive and active “now” is really an attempt to diminish His greatness.

Then later on in the book, he shows a whole lot of ignorance about revival…so much that I put the book down.

Nope. Can’t recommend it. Sorry πŸ™

You can read other reviews from other Blog Tour reviewers (below) — I do admit to a great deal of militancy in my beliefs regarding the Kingdom of God, His nature, and revival. If you’re less militant about these issues, check out the reviews or get the book & read it.

About dreams and broken glass
AKA Theodore Lewis
Bell Whistle Moon
Bible Dude
Blame it on the Loud Mouth Gene
Blog Tour Spot
Book Story
Captain’s Blog
Deus E Fiel
Heading Home
Healthy Spirituality
Hurdling Hurdles
Lighthouse Academy
Musings by Lynn
Net’s Book Notes
Ponderings by Andrea
Ragamuffing Scrap Craft
Refresh My Soul
Scraps and Snippets
Sherri Woodbridge
Catholic View
Sunflower Faith
Tattered Couch
The Christian Naturalist
The Friendly Book Nook
Uma Pirralha Na Universidade
Word Up Studies

26 thoughts on “Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now”

  1. "I do admit to a great deal of militancy in my beliefs regarding the Kingdom of God, His nature, and revival." Ooooh…."militancy"……make me afraid of you…

  2. "Any time I get a book, I do a three or four minute “skim”, then usually a half-hour “read”. Books that are especially good end up being read word-for-word (very few authors make the cut). This is a speed-reading technique that I learned in first grade that has served me well my whole life. I test virtually all reading mater."

    — How in the world do you expect anyone to take your reviews seriously after disclosing this? What's even more amazing is how seriously you take yourself. The personal and intellectual arrogance it takes to publicly post this for everyone to read is awesome. I sometimes wish I could live in a dream world such as this.

    Regardless of your personal opinion on the book, it would have been nice to read a review done by a person who actually read the book.

  3. I would like to respect your views on "militancy" or why the book was a waste of time, but you neglected to state your opinions on either. I would like to hear more, but would it be a "waste" of my time?

  4. You didn't address any of my points or answer any of my questions as to why you would expect any rational person to take your views on this book seriously.

    You didn't review a book…You reviewed X number of pages in a book. I hope someone has alerted the publishing company of this. It's a shame they wasted a book on a person who was supposed to review it.

    As I'm typing this I'm realizing how irresponsible it is for someone to say they're going to review it, then do a skim, then type something up and call it a "review." It's not even equivalent (but it's close) to reading footnotes for a classic work and then writing an essay.

  5. Very well, I took another skim of the post, and it feels like you have a bit of disdain for people who do not have a continuous dialog with Jesus as you do (sorry thats the tone I found, I could be wrong). Here is a pastor and theologian who is finding out that he is deficient in his day to day, or minuite to minute pressence of God (see I capitalized) and properly realizes that there may be Christians out there who feel that need also. I realize that Jesus is with us continuously, but unfortunately for me, and it is more common than I want, that Jesus is not the foremost in my mind.
    I will keep reading the book. He is a good writer and I feel that most of the topics he writes on I agree with (I know I might be nuts).
    In another case I would like better definitions of militancy and revival because our community vision is Mat 28. Go into the world and make disciples. Militancy I don't know, it sounds political. Thanks for the reply.

  6. I'm sitting here typing a post about speed reading. Militancy will come at some point; not sure about tonight. πŸ™‚

    I'm just wondering why this has touched such a nerve for you.

    You're right, our \”community vision\” is Matthew 28:19… AND 18 and 20. Our mission is NOT to \”go into the world and make disciples\”. Our mission is to use the authority that Christ gave us to go to the world, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them AND teaching them to observe what Jesus commanded… big difference there. What Jesus commanded amounts to the collision of heaven with earth… the manifestation of His superior reality that smashes into the darkness of the world around us and renders it LIGHT.

    It sounds to me like you've got some jealousy issues going on (sorry, that's the tone I found, I could be wrong). If you want to have a continuous dialogue with the Lord, ask Him for that… pray without ceasing and listen for His voice. (and if you don't, best to examine that!!)

  7. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Boyd's book. Most books are to be judged for their content, argumentative effectiveness, literary style and so on, but, with this book, the subject matter alone warrants much appreciation. There are no (to my knowledge and if I'm wrong please let me know) contemporary readings that deal with practicing the presence of God as effectively and practically as Boyd does ( I understand those two things are subjective).

  8. Also, Hugh of St. Victor, who wrote in his Didascalion (1125) wrote that, "([the student] a.k.a all of us) should hold no knowledge and no writing in contempt" because we humans, being limited by our finitiude, are subject to ignorance on more levels than we can count. We may give our opinions on writings (and to a certain extent we should) but we must always do so with respect for the author's hard work and effort. We should follow this advice for this genre (Christian writing) more than other subjects because we don't know how God is going to use this person, Greg Boyd, to further His Kingdom. The man loves God and works so hard for Him, why lambast his book with a review after a three minute reading? Do we as humans exhaustively know what God may have in store for Boyd and his book? Do we want to be the judge, the arbiter who would deter one from possibly finding God in the now when they've had, for reasons unknown to us, difficulty in other ways

  9. For me, Boyd's book was a blessing; helping me to put aside my Cartesian Anxiety and learn to just "be" with God and KNOW He is there. The fine point I believe which must be understood is one of cognitive dissonance. One can know intellectually and even spiritually that God is omnipresent; that He IS already everywhere, but still not manifest this reality with their lives. How do we come to have this kerygmatic experience when we are stuck in a rut and not realize it? Boyd's practical advice, his humility and openess in explaining his feeling of hypocrisy even writing about the subject because he falls short at times, may just be the catalyst someone needs (I was that someone) to further their walk with Christ.

  10. His book is not merely one of material and content because, in the beginning of the book he tells his readers his book is meant, not of necessity to deliver more information (he gives a good case as to why he chose this) but as more of a spiritual discipline book. Meaning, a book to read slowly, to meditate with, to speak to God with, to let the material absorb past our hippocampus and into our spirits where we may begin to manifest God's love (in life with others and on the internet in blogs). There is really no need to put such an emphases on the lack of capital letters where they should be; it's so trivial and distracting (and I don't believe I'm doing God an injustice in not taking that too seriously).


  11. Personally, Chris, I could care less what Hugh of St. Victor wrote. I'm not going to waste my time on something like this book.

    Others may feel the book is absolutely worth their time, and make it a subject of daily deep reading. ::shrug::

    And Chris, if you're finding that there's no contemporary readings on practicing the presence of God (there are, but hey)… when I'm done writing my book I'll send you a copy.

    I find it amusing that people have so much time on their hands… πŸ˜€ Really, a review is just a review. An honest opinion. I gave my honest opinion of the book, the same way as I'd give an honest opinion of a restaurant after just one bite if that bite was not to my liking and I spit it out. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

    I also find it AMAZING that three people who have never been on this blog before (to my knowledge) show up and expect me to commit sin against God in the form of lying and intellectual dishonesty, and that they expect me to give a positive review of a book that I honestly well and truly disliked and told in detail why? Would y'all have preferred that I lie about it?

    I'm starting to suspect a conspiracy πŸ™‚

  12. Ok, I'm not part of the conspiracy. In fact I apologize for my criticism, it was on called for. This is your blog and you can write any thing you want, and review materials using any method you desire. I wanted to see the gamut of reviews and yours was one. You were honest about how you review and how you felt about what you reviewed. That you didn't like and wouldn;t recommend it was your opinion, and that is what a review is. I am not jealous of anything except that which keeps me from growing in Christ. I do realize that Mat 28 goes on, I just thought I was using a shorthand and that you would know that I know aboujt the making disciples, etc.. Anyway, I could have just read the post and moved on, but I didn't, my bad. Maybe I'll check back when you write something on militancy.I just didn't want to leave on a negative note.

  13. I don't mind at all the you supposedly didn't like the book. I just find it amusing that you would actually write a review of a book that you didn't really read.

    And nice try with the restaurant analogy, but that doesn't make any sense. I would love to hear your critique of a restaurant though:

    "Yeah, I tried the chicken dish. I took a nibble of the tip of the chicken breast and it was a bit under-seasoned for my liking, so the restaurant is not good. What's that? No…I didn't try the potatoes, vegetables, appetizer, dessert, or any of the beverages…but I used a special "speed-tasting" technique that I learned in the cafeteria of my elementary school back in 1st grade. So trust me, I know what I'm talking about."

  14. well of course they're unconcerned. It's a review of a few pages of the book. they know that most thinking adults will not take your review seriously.

  15. Bern, you're funny πŸ™‚

    I read lots of books that aren't seasoned to my taste. This is not that. ::shrug::

    And I got a thank-you for my review… and they're sending me another book to review… so…

    Plus, you've obviously taken my review very, very seriously since you're spending this amount of time on it. πŸ™‚

  16. Quite the opposite…I think what I've communicated is that I don't take your review seriously.

    As for the publishing company…well…I suspect they're either masochists or in need of another good chuckle…

  17. No problem. You've done a fine job exposing yourself as a pseudo-intellectual thus far with your responses to all of the posts in this blog.

    The "you're funny. you make me laugh" response/defense is apparently something else that you think has been serving you well since 1st grade.

  18. Why would you make that assumption? I'm not "upset" with anyone else or their comments on this board.

    I'm actually just being critical of you, Kathi. I've asked you twice why you feel people should take your review of the book seriously since you admitted that you didn't read the book…but you indirectly change the subject each time.

    Do you think you're going to answer that question any time soon?

  19. Why should people take me seriously, since I read the book but did not do so to your satisfaction? Is that what you're asking?

    It's not up to me whether anyone takes me seriously or not. If you're not going to take me seriously, please buy the book. Buy it by the case, if you really, really like it. No skin off my back. I told you, dear reader, what *I* think and suggested that you think the same. You, the responsible reader, may choose to accept or ignore that assessment for yourself.

    You can be critical if you like. That's your right… just like my opinion that the book wasn't worth a full read was my right. The more you post, the more time you take on this, the longer you stretch it out, the more you amuse me. (I was just being honest by the way. I've laughed like crazy about all of this.)

  20. "The more you post, the more time you take on this, the longer you stretch it out…"

    — Is that how it works? Thanks for explaining that to me.

    "Why should people take me seriously, since I read the book but did not do so to your satisfaction? Is that what you're asking?"

    — No. But that's okay. One can only cast their pearls before swine for so long…it's been real.

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