Eli's Reviews > Have a Little Faith: a True Story

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
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Aug 01, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from July 29 to August 01, 2012

I remember reading Albom's book The Five People You Meet in Heaven years ago (and subsequently watching the film when it came out) and I remember thinking that it was a great story but the theology was questionable. Reading this book gave me similar thoughts. While I enjoyed the book and was inspired by the men who had such an impact on Albom's life, I found myself asking what the spiritual message was that the book presented. Let's face it, when a book on faith and religion gets rave reviews from Oprah, I'm going to doubt its authenticity.

Despite my qualms, I found that I could agree with much of what is presented in the book. The Reb and Henry both call for loving your neighbor, having a close relationship with God, and doing what is right even when it doesn't make sense to you or those around you. They both follow God's call to be where they are meant to be. My issue? The fact that Albom seems to present a mindset that lies somewhere between relativism and universalism (in a nutshell, "it doesn't matter what you believe because it's all valid" and "everyone's going to heaven anyway" respectively). While I admire the Reb's faith and his commitment to his work, as a Christian I have to say that if he is not saved through Jesus Christ, then he is not going to heaven. There is no indication in the book that the Reb ever converted from Judaism to Christianity, yet at the end of the book Albom says he believes that the Reb and Henry (a Christian pastor) are both in heaven, chatting about faith and God together.

This book has inspired me, which was probably the idea when Hyperion labeled it "Inspiration/Nonfiction," but I can't shake the fact that the theology of faith presented doesn't seem to be doctrinally faithful to any religious creed, including the two that are at the heart of the story. Is that necessarily a bad thing, given Albom's frequent calls to people of all faiths to live their faith more fully and given the reactions (very grace-filled and understanding) of both the Reb and Henry in the book? I'm not sure. While the call to live your faith is a noble and right one, I feel that Albom is copping out of making a stand for his own faith. I saw very little of the transformation in his mindset that supposedly went with all of the events described in the book. Maybe that's because it was all written down after the fact. This will be a book I recommend with caution in the future: worth the read, but potentially harmful if not read with discernment (as all books should be).
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