I was able to get an advance reader’s copy of The Way NLT from Tyndale House Publishers to review. Here are my thoughts on this edition.
First, what I appreciated.
I personally enjoy the New Living Translation. While I don’t really want to review the translation itself, I mention it because if you’re familiar with the earlier edition of The Way, it was the Living Bible. I prefer the NLT to the LB, but recognize each have their purpose.
The layout of the book is graphical and engaging. It’s targeting 16-30 year olds so while I’m not in that target group, I do appreciate the pictures and layout of the book.
This edition has recurring sections – “My Story”…where people share their journey, “What I Wish I’d Known”…where people share their earned wisdom; and “Laments” where people pour out their complaints to God.
I really like “My Story”. The saints in Revelation overcome by the blood of the lamb and word of His testimony. I never got the sense that any of these stories were anything but real. Some aren’t that deep. Most show people’s flaws. There are links and QR codes people can follow to videos with an invitation to share your own story. Top props for this idea. My only suggest to the publisher would be to consider starting a private Facebook group and asking people to share their story. These stories shared in private could be shared with a larger audience than the social site Tyndale is trying to create. I understand they want a safe place to share and Facebook maybe too public…but I see great value in public declarations of faith.
“What I Wish I’d Known” is a fairly good tool as well. I was 16-30 for a few years myself and somehow I knew the value of learning from other people’s mistakes. Unfortunately I’ve observed most people want to make their own mistakes. Still I think this is a great section to include.
Finally I need to say a few things about the “Laments” section. I often counsel people to read the Psalms because 2/3rds of the psalms are laments and with the Psalms we have a language to poor out our hearts to God. Knowing I’m a fan of a good lament you may find it strange I have several issues with the Laments I read in The Way.
1. Too often writers are giving God credit for the works of the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. They betray an attitude that says, “everything that happens is the will of God”. It’s not biblical. We know the works of the One who came that we might have life to the full and the one out to destroy.
2. I read too many laments that cried out to God to act miraculously when the Bible makes it clear He’s told US to be the difference. The difference between Christians and Atheist should be that the atheist looks at the terrible things in the world and says, “Where’s God?” while Christians look at the same atrocities and ask, “God, how can I help?” Most of the laments in the Way never turn the issue back to God. It’s hard to find a psalm of Lament that doesn’t end up in praise to God.
3. Some of the laments struggle with what’s in the Bible. I don’t have a problem with that because I don’t have the answers to a lot of questions myself. The problem was the writers of those laments have a skewed view of what happened at the cross. We might agree with the statement, “everything changed at the cross” but we can’t grasp that at one time God’s anger was against those who did evil. The price for sin had to be paid. It was. God’s anger was averted. I don’t understand any more than that.
Basically, I feel the laments are aimed at trying to be trendy instead of working to build up and not tear down. I am not a fan of the lament in The Way.
Would I still recommend The Way? Yes. But I would ask readers to reader the Psalms to see the biblical pattern for laments and compare that with the modern laments in The Way. One brings life…the other should be discussed over an overpriced latte.
Just my thoughts.
Advanced Reader’s Copy of the Bible has been provided courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc