Dec. 31 – Mandy Smith – Unfettered [Christmas Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2021
Advent / Christmas Calendar
December 31


Mandy Smith UnfetteredUnfettered: Imagining a Childlike Faith
beyond the Baggage of Western Culture

Mandy Smith

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2021
Buy Now: [IndieBound] [Amazon] [Kindle] [Audible]
We also have a nasty habit (at least in my current denomination) of grinding scripture to a pulp beneath our scrutiny—analyzing each word to ensure our theological understanding is without blemish. As a result, attending church has begun to feel like one more thing to check off the weekly to-do list for me, right there between grocery shopping and picking up the dry cleaning. Yes, my pastor is preaching “Christ and him crucified,” but the narrative feels threadbare and tired, much like I do.

Mandy Smith, in her new book Unfettered: Imagining a Childlike Faith Beyond the Baggage of Western Culture, makes a compelling argument as to why this is the case. She maintains that Western culture and the Christian faith have become entangled, so much so, in fact that the former is influencing the latter to a dangerous degree. Rather than simply dwelling securely in our salvation and resting in God’s boundless strength, we strive to think and do everything on our own. “We do kingdom things in empire ways,” she writes, “which doesn’t look like good news.”

The childlike faith Christ calls us to is often uncomfortable, especially for people like me who pride themselves on being tough, independent, and totally self-sufficient. We do many things well, never betraying our emotions or asking for help, and refusing to give in to any impulse that will leave us looking foolish in front of fellow adults. Childish things belong to children, we reason. Best to leave it back in the land of make-believe. However, when we cut ourselves off this way—when we don’t engage life with our whole selves—we exist rather than thrive. Worse still, we present an impoverished gospel to the world. But that doesn’t mean we are a people without hope. Far from it. It simply requires a change of heart and mind. “To enter the kingdom,” she writes, “we’ll need to remember how to do kingdom things in kingdom ways once again. This will mean embracing story, substance, mystery, and a different kind of authority.”


Watch an interview with Mandy Smith about this book…  


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