When I saw the description of Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life by Steve Wiens, I looked forward to reading it. As someone who has lived in a constant period of transition for over two years and looking forward to beginning something someday soon, I thought it would be a perfect book for this stage of my life. In that sense, I found the book a disappointment, but first, the structure and strengths of the book.
Wiens organizes his book around the days of each of creation. Each day represents some aspect of beginnings in life. The chapters are Light, Expanse, Seeds, Seasons, Monsters, Us, and Stop. Each chapter consists of narrative stories that are biblically based, personal to Wiens, or stories from the lives of other people.
The writing is excellent. Wiens is good at narrative. You can follow the stories and picture each detail in your mind. Wiens is also transparent in his personal life. He is not always the hero in his own stories. Such honesty is refreshing. Not all Christian leaders are secure enough to reveal their weaknesses. I believe that I would like Steve Wiens if I were ever to meet him. The problem was…
…I did not like the book. First of all, there was the premise of using the creation narrative as the platform for the book. Personally, I believe that how we use Scripture should be guided by authorial intent. I don’t believe that the narrative of creation in Genesis chapter one lends itself to Wien’s use of it. In Wien’s hands, the creation account becomes an allegorical tale of how God works in our lives.
Secondly, Wiens makes clear in the introduction that he likes to speculate on what is between the lines of the Bible’s stories. My difficulty was that Wiens focused too much on the speculative. I felt that I got too much Wiens and not enough of what the Bible states clearly. Wiens’s conclusions were not necessarily bad–not heretical by any means–but they were also not strongly anchored in the biblical text.
Finally, I wished Jesus and the Gospel had played a larger role throughout the book. I believe that Wiens hoped that through the narratives that Jesus and his teachings would be evident. While narrative can be a very effective teaching method, I don’t think that would be true for every reader and not true for most of this book.
If you like books with a spiritual basis that aren’t preachy but have some good precepts, you might like this book. If you want a book that gives you clear Biblical principles for making a fresh start in some area of life, despite its description, this book is not likely for you.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Tyndale for review. I was under no obligation to write a good review.)