Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Review: Redeeming Singleness

The following review was written by my friend Kristy who has a love for the Lord and a commitment to the local church. She uses her many gifts to serve our church including singing with the worship team, ensuring that we have great books from which to choose in our church bookstore, and watching children for marriage and parenting seminars. She has a beautiful servant's heart, is a wonderful friend, and an excellent example to us all! Without further ado, here are her thoughts on Barry Danylak's book, Redeeming Singleness.


Okay, I admit it.  I began reading Redeeming Singleness in the hopes that I would find practical and applicable ways to redeem the blessing of singleness.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I haven't always felt that singleness was a blessing.  Some days I still struggle, but thanks to God's mercy those days seem to be growing fewer and father apart.  My hope was that this book could help encourage singles like myself, and point us to practical ways that singles can serve within the church.  It turns out, this book was very interesting to read, but was written for a completely different purpose.

Reedeming Singleness, by Barry Danylak, is subtitled "How the Storyline of the Scripture Affirms the Single Life".  Mr. Danylak takes a theological approach to breaking down the gifts of marriage and singleness throughout the Old and New Testaments.  His book is very well-written, well-researched, and it is evident that Mr. Danylak is extremely knowledgeable on the topic about which he writes.  That said, I know now this book was not intended to be a practical guide for approaching the single life.

The first three chapters of the book focus mostly on the importance of marriage and child-bearing in the Old Testament.  This is helpful in creating the foundation for Christ's appearance in the New Testament and for comparing the old law versus the new.  At the end of the third chapter, Mr. Danylak does end on a hopeful note.  On page 113, he writes:

     "The barren woman, who was unfruitful in producing physical offspring, is now able to bring forth something profoundly greater - spiritual sons and daughters in the pattern of the servant...The eunuch, conversely, who had been denied access to temple service, is now given an eternal and permanent place within God's house...Both are begetters of spiritual offspring and can serve as models of devoted services to the Lord."

This tone continues through the fourth chapter, ending with a wonderful truth about our Lord and Saviour:

     "All the blessings of the New Convenant come to us through Christ.  He is the sufficient source...To suggest that to be a complete or fulfilled christian in the new covenant requires anything more than Christ is to deny the fundamental sufficiency of Christ as the sole vehicle of covenental blessing."

Unfortunately, I felt a bit frustrated as I finished reading this book.  Most of my frustration was summed up in a statement made by the author in the epilogue, in which he wrote that one of the elements by which Paul distinguishes the spiritual gift of singleness is "a life characterized by freedom and simplicity, which testifies to the complete sufficiency of Christ." (p. 213)  While I do not disagree on a theological level, and I do believe that "through Christ life is fully blessed" (p. 215), I would not go about describing my life as a single woman as free and simple.  As I said, I do not disagree on a theological level, but I do feel this could have been written in a more sensitive light with respect to the amount of pressure and responsibility that can fall on single men and women.  We may not have the distraction of a spouse and children, as the author wrote, however life in general tends to create it's own distractions.

I would highly recommend this book to pastors, or others who are desiring to teach on the topic of singleness. The theological groundwork Mr. Danylak covers is very well-researched and will be helpful for anyone wishing to learn more about biblical singleness.  I would not, however, recommend this book to singles looking for encouragement or ideas for practical application.  As I said, I ended my reading feeling a bit discouraged, as though the entire married world felt that all single people were living life free and easy, far from the stresses of having a spouse and family.  I realize this wasn't a rational thought, but it was my thought nonetheless. 

My suggestion would be to read Reedeming Singleness prayerfully, asking the Lord to show what He would want you to gain from the reading.  The Lord is faithful, and He will show you what He wants you to learn, and will always be faithful to show you where He is directing your steps.  I think this book has much to offer whether single or married, and I would recommend this book as a tool for increasing one's biblical knowledge on the topic of singleness.

*Many thanks to Crossway for sending a copy of this book in exchange for Kristy's honest opinion!

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