What Are You Missing? Peter Scazzero learned the hard way: you can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Even though he was pastor of a growing church, he did what most people do: Avoid conflict in the name of Christianity Ignore his anger, sadness, and fear Use God to run from God Live without boundaries
Eventually God awakened him to a biblical integration of emotional health, a relationship with Jesus, and the classic practices of contemplative spirituality. It created nothing short of a spiritual revolution, utterly transforming him and his church. In this book Scazzero outlines his journey and the signs of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. Then he provides seven biblical, reality-tested ways to break through to the revolutionary life Christ meant for you.“The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality,” he says, “unleashes the Holy Spirit inside us so that we might experientially know the power of an authentic life in Christ.”
Just to get this out of the way… The author respectfully quotes a sainted Roman Catholic mystic on one page, and then throws Charles Spurgeon under the bus on the very next page. He has a tendency to insert bracketed words when he quotes verses, and he uses The Message translation. The author never uses the word “sanctification”, never defines discipleship, and merely alludes to the sovereignty of God.
A combination of a self help book and autobiography, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is broken into two sections, the first explaining the problem of emotionally unhealthy spirituality and the second prescribing the pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality. Woven through the book is documentation the author’s personal experiences and journey.
There are ten top symptoms that he lists for emotionally unhealthy spirituality. And they are valid symptoms—covering over brokenness/weakness/failure, denying the influence of the past, judging other journeys—to name a few. But these are symptoms that are complex, and could point to any number of root issues (such as pride) other than the issue of emotional health. However Scazzero perceives all problems through the lens of emotional immaturity due to his own story and experience, one that is heavily marked by emotional immaturity. Reading through this lens presents an incomplete picture of the process of sanctification.
The book presents a “radical truth…a simple but profound reality”, referring to the concept that emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable. But, this life changing truth comes without a Scripture reference. It is indeed a valid point that the two are connected and related. But, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality errs however in placing it’s hope in this concept, that emotional health and contemplative spirituality combined are the key to fixing things. He states, “…if we do the hard work of integrating emotional heath and spirituality, we can truly experience the wonderful promises God has given us—for our lives, churches, and communities. God will make our lives beautiful.” He goes on to quote Gal 5:22, and to expound upon the fruits of the Spirit. But this passage in Galatians is a call to walk by the Spirit (v16) instead of the flesh; Scazzero’s application of this text to deal with emotional health. Trading the call to walk by the Spirit to emphasizing emotional health, we are left to walking a fine line of a sort of prosperity gospel: follow the seven steps and you will be blessed.
Scazzero employs the metaphor of an iceberg to illustrate that our deepest person is untouched by Jesus when we are emotionally immature. In effect, that we are keeping the Holy Spirit chained up in the above-water portion of our iceberg spirit. This underscores the author’s limited understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, and the sovereignty of God over all of His Creation. I would argue that the converse is true, we ourselves cannot access the depths of our own souls, our knowledge and awareness of our sin and our true identity are only be revealed by the work of the Spirit. (Ps. 139: 23-24/ 1Cor 2:10-11) We have not, and in no way can we limit God.
In his description of the contemplative tradition and practices, it strikes me as thoroughly odd that we are only given practical examples of this practice from the lives of monks and the likes of Mother Theresa. Why is this? Did the apostles not prescribe such a practice? Or did they demonstrate this in their life work? The practice of monasticism is simply not prescribed in Scripture.
The second part of the book breaks down the pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality into seven steps. The very first one raises some very serious concerns: "know yourself that you may know God.” How can such a statement be made? Surely we must know God and His Word in order to know ourselves! To do this backwards is surely to place our deceitful and personal claims upon God, rather than standing before the truth of His character and subsequently understanding ourselves in light of who he created us as, and the role that He gives us in His story. So, rather than diving into the theological and anthropological issues that this chapter presents, I’m just going to dismiss the entire chapter as fundamentally flawed.
Step two outlines how to process the past in order to move forward. I did find this chapter relatively helpful, as our personal histories are a huge element of sin patterns and relational problems. And this chapter was less theological, and serves as a good reminder that we should be aware of how our past affects our present and future.
The third step introduces the strange concept of “The Wall”. Another concept that comes without a Scripture reference. This refers to a “dark night of the soul”, something through which we must persevere or remain stuck in emotional immaturity. Scazzero presents the stages of faith in a linear way, with “the wall” being a block between different stages, God leads us to our “wall” and we either get “stuck” here or “drop out”. Scazzero points out that we don’t control the seasons/stages of faith, nor do we control our walls. But simplification of these six stages seems to underestimate the variety that God uses in sanctification, and the unique ways that he sanctifies each believer. If for example, a believer doesn’t hit a wall in their life, are they forever stuck in a shallow faith? Or must the young believer wait years for God to give them a wall before advancing to the “next” level. Yes, most believers will be tried and tested, but this is an oversimplification and rather misleading description of that process.
Next up, grief & loss and accepting your limits. This chapter spends a lot of time trying to anecdotally explain all the different types of pain and loss. The story of Job is heavily used in this chapter, but makes the final point: “as he followed the difficult path of allowing his losses to enlarge his soul for God, God blessed him superabundantly.” Which places an inordinate emphasis on the blessing. "Embracing our limits" is to understand that we are human and unique in our gifts, and for some reason, we are also treated to St. Benedict’s Ladder of Humility in this confusing chapter.
The next step outlines and recommends the use of the Daily Office and also refreshes our approach to the Sabbath. The recommendation of the Daily Office again feels odd because of it’s monastic history. An analysis of the routines of the early church as laid out in the New Testament would have been welcome, rather than basing a prescription for regular prayer and devotion throughout the day upon the highly scheduled lives of monks. The reminder of God’s design for Sabbath rest and the author’s exhortation to keep it is helpful and biblical.
The next to the last chapter offers practical guidance for growing in emotional maturity—how to handle conflict, be a peace maker, etc. Helpful, but not groundbreaking. The last chapter focuses on yet another new concept called the “Rule of Life.” Apparently Daniel had one, or rather we can infer that Daniel may have had one, and the other examples of the “Rule” come from monastic communities and practices. The idea of the “Rule” is to create an intentional plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. Valid point, but again strikes an odd chord.
And here lies the biggest issue with Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: the entire book is undergirded by personal experience rather than being based in Scripture and the book places too much stock in the practice of contemplative spirituality. While it mixes in enough Scripture to make the entire book palatable to the average evangelical Christian, the concept of contemplative spirituality should be approached with great caution because it is rooted in mysticism, which is not biblical. However the book raises a few good points that would likely be helpful to readers who haven’t studied the topic of emotional health in respect to the Christian walk.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
So this is a book that I read for therapy, because, just in case you are unaware, I have issues. When my therapist recommended it I was highly skeptical, but also kind of desperate because it was during a particularly difficult bout of depression. So I picked it up and then avoided reading it for several months because anything with the word "spirituality" in the title just makes me leery.
I am not a "spiritual" person. "Spirituality" to me sounds vague and unspecific and trendy and New Age. I like theology and liturgy and apologetics. I am into the Disciplines.. I am not into freeing my mind or releasing the power within. And when I flipped through and saw the words "inner child", I seriously considered giving up all together. I want a relationship with Christ, yes, but based on fact and theology and Scripture, not on feelings. I find feelings highly unreliable. I was honestly just preparing myself for a watered-down, feelings-oriented, let's-not-make-any-waves Christianity. The kind that is all "your sins are forgiven" and forgets the "go and sin no more".
I was thrilled when I finally got into this book and learned that my expectations were completely wrong. Scazzero does focus his book on the forgiveness and hope that is available through Christ (which I admitedly tend to neglect), but he does so on a firm theological basis. Yes, there is some inner child business that kind of made me twitchy, but his basics were well-founded on Scripture, which is ultimately what I need to see in order to take a Christian book seriously.
Writing I was fine with the writing, with the exception of the use of buzz words that I found off putting. It was the typical psycho-babble-esque words like "inner child" and "authentic self" that really annoyed me. Basically if it's a popular psychology term I've seen the Real Housewives fight over ("You aren't being your authentic self! Just be real!") I'm turned off. Scazzero does use those terms somewhat frequently, but the spiritual depth he included with them made me feel a bit better about them. I was, at least, able to overlook them and didn't spend the majority of the book rolling my eyes and imagining reality tv characters trying to prove a point. Anyway, I realize I'm kind of missing the point by ranting about something Scazzero avoids. What I mean to say is that I like the writing fine and had no problems with the way he used Scripture to illustrate his points.
Entertainment Value I can't really say I was super entertained by this one, although I got a lot out of it. I definitely think I had some breakthroughs in reading it and learned some things about myself, but, I don't know. It's a book about feelings. Feelings are not my favorite thing to explore, which is probably why I need therapy in the first place.
Overall It's a good book. If you struggle with giving yourself the same grace you give others, it's a really good book. Also good if you have a hard time knowing the difference between being loving and obedient to God's command to put others first and being a doormat. I have a hard time with that one too. Was it a book I rushed home at night to read? No. But I'm glad I read it and I think I had some definite mind-change moments in the process.
Unicorn moment: I actually paid full price for this book from Barnes and Noble. That happens almost never.
My general impression of the book was not positive. The author ends with some decent suggestions (such as false peacemaking and viewing others as people and not as objects), but overall his basic premise, that we must know ourselves to know God, is false. Yes, there are some good suggestions for working together with others and in looking at our lives, but it is almost all based on writings of mystics or monks, and not so much on the Bible. Our focus should be on God, and we should find ourselves, that is our identity, in Him and what he has revealed to us through the Bible. I found this very self-focused, instead of God focused, and the preoccupation with contemplative spirituality (The underlying idea of contemplative spirituality is the belief that God is in all things and in all people, [panentheism]), Mysticism, and meditation/centering prayer was too Zen/Buddhist for me. I will stick to reading the Bible and praying as Jesus taught us to pray in the New Testament, and not with the contemplative spirituality/mysticism that this author purports is the way to really know God.
Some areas in particular that I had issues with in this book are as follows:
According to the author on page 20, "God promises if you and I will do life his way (even though it feels unnatural and hard to us initially), then our lives will be beautiful"-Where in scripture does it say this?? God promises that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33), I don't recall him promising that our life will be beautiful. He says that he came so that will have life in all it's fullness (John 10:10), but I certainly would not use beautiful to describe it, nor is there a verse that supports Scazzero's claim that God PROMISES (my emphasis) a beautiful life if we do life His way
On page 65 the author posits that to know God, you must first know yourself. The title of this chapter is: "Know yourself that you may know God". Scazzero basically says that you cannot know God if you don't know yourself. I do not agree with this supposition. To say that you first have to know yourself in order to know God is completely false. You must start with God, not with yourself. Scazzero's thinking is backwards and not Biblical.
In chapter 4 the author also talks about how we must go back in order to go forward as summed up in two ESSENTIAL biblical truths (my emphasis) - "1: the blessings and sins of our families going back two to three generation's profoundly impact who we are today" I would not agree that this is an "essential biblical truth" -"2: discipleship requires putting off the sinful patterns of our family of origin and relearning how to do life God's way in God's family" Scazzero further posits on page 95 that these key biblical ingredients are CENTRAL(my emphasis) to our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I do not agree with the author's supposition here. Yes, it may be helpful to look at your family's past, but to claim that it is central to our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is assuming far too much.
On page 108 Scazzero declares "His (God's) approval is without conditions". This is not biblical. His love is without condition, but his approval is not. We must believe in Jesus, in order to be "approved of" and brought into his family.
I had quite a few objections to raise in chapter 6 of the book. • First of all Scazzero incorrectly states on page 127 that the first words uttered by Jesus in the new testament are from Matthew 5:3. Jesus speaks many times before that instance. If the author cannot properly state even this much, then how am I to trust the rest of his writing? • It is my opinion that this author is quite mystical-he promotes the "Jesus prayer"(Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner), which in itself is not bad, but he says that it has, "long been a foundation of the eastern Christian spirituality to help believers remain grounded and dependent on God throughout the day. By repeating the prayer throughout the day, synchronizing the syllables of these words with our heartbeat throughout the day, the intention is that our very lives will embody the richness of the prayer". This sounds quite grounded in mysticism and very similar to what those in Roman Catholicism and orthodox churches do, the repeating of a prayer simply to focus is quite meditative and not how Jesus teaches us to pray in the New Testament. • Furthermore in this chapter, the author states on page 132 that "detachment is the great secret of interior peace". To me this sounds quite similar to Buddhism. He later says on page 133 that "it has rightly been said that those who are the most detached on the journey are best able to taste the purest joy in the beauty of created things". He ends the chapter with a quote from Thomas Merton(a Roman Catholic Trappist monk, and Mystic who studied Zen Buddhism and said that non-Christian faiths had much to offer Christianity) "I wonder if there are 20 men alive in the world now who see things as they really are. That would mean that there were 20 men who were free, who were not dominated or even influenced by an attachment to any created thing or to their own selves or to any gift of God".
Later in ch. 8 on page 160, Scazzero talks about "Centering" and how we should, "Be attentive and open, Sit still, Sit straight, Breathe slowly, deeply, and naturally, and Close your eyes or lower them to the ground" Then, "When you find your mind wandering let your breathing bring you back. As you breathe in, as God to fill you with the Holy Spirit. As you breathe out, exhale all that is sinful, false, and not of him", and "When your mind wanders pray the Jesus prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner'". Once again very Zen/Buddhist and Mystic/meditative focused. This is also not supported in the Bible.
In chapter 9, on page 180, the author quotes Jean Vanier saying, "Love is, 'to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves'" and says that "Jesus did this that with each person he met". I would not entirely agree with this. Did Jesus reveal the beauty of the Pharisees to themselves? No, he rebuked them. Does that mean he didn't love them? No, I would not say so. I would say that because Jesus was love, he knew that he had to reveal the wrongdoing in their lives, in doing this they could possibly have realized the truth and had the opportunity to repent. Love does not just mean to reveal the beauty of another person to themselves, it can sometimes be helping someone to see that they are not doing what they should, telling the truth in love, for example. The author further states that, "out of our contemplative time with God, we, too, are invited to be prayerfully present to people, revealing their beauty to themselves" pg 180 . Our job is not to reveal people's beauty to themselves, in fact what beauty can we claim? The Bible says that none are righteous, and I would say that there is no beauty in ourselves aside from what God has given us. I would not say that our job is to reveal people's beauty to themselves, rather it is to reveal that they are in fact sinners and need God's saving mercy and grace. If we can go around and reveal people's "beauty" to them, then how are they going to see that they need God? The author then states that "Jesus refused to separate the practice of the presence of God from the practice of the presence of people. When pushed to the wall to separate this unbreakable union, Jesus refused and summarized the entire Bible for us, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love our neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments'" Matthew 22:37-40 It is my opinion that this author focuses too much on the love of God and does not balance it out with God's righteous judgement. We should not go too far to either side of the scale. I also do not agree with the author's statement that Jesus summarized the entire Bible with this statement, rather he summed up the law and the prophets (Old Testament) with this statement, though it does sum up what we are to be about as Christians. It seems to me that this author is big on generalities, and not into details.
These are just some of the objections that I had to this book. I would certainly not recommend it, as it is rife with Biblical falsehoods, and it seems apparent that Scazzero did not rely much on the Bible when he wrote the majority of this, rather he relied on the writings of others (primarily Catholic monastic mystics such as Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen), and his own experiences. In addition Scazzero rather boldly claims that when he writes in his journals, it is God's truth ( he writes, "I go back and read what I have written to review truths God told to me during that time" pg 86), and in one instance when he spoke to his wife he said, "Geri listened to my five-minute speech, realizing she was on holy ground". These are very bold claims, and I would be very hesitant to trust someone who claims these things. It seems that Scazzero genuinely wants to share what he believes is the secret to emotionally healthy spirituality, but in my opinion fails because it is not grounded in the truth of God's word, and is focused on the self, instead of on God, where our focus should be.
Review of Scazzero's other book "The Emotionally Healthy Church", which touches on a lot of the same points as this book and how many of these ideas (included in "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality") are not biblical: https://9marks.org/review/emotionally...
Article on centering prayer: https://carm.org/centering-prayer -this is a good article on centering prayer and how it is not biblical. A summary quote from the article states: "Centering prayer is an unbiblical and dangerous practice. It can put a person in an altered state of consciousness and open him up to a spiritual connection that is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead, we are to seek God in prayers that are non-repetitious, with a focus on God's word and truth, with an active mind seeking to find the true and living God through the revelation of the Scripture and communion with his son Jesus."
2 meaningful quotes to sum up some of my opposition to this book:
Martin Luther: “[The] righteousness of Christ is entirely outside and above us.” Luther’s Works, Vol 24: Sermons on the Gospel of John.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "As long as I am still reflecting on myself in order to find Christ, he is not there. When he is really there, I see nobody else but him." (translated from German, DBW, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke, volume 4 "Nachfolge", page 107, footnote 36, Discipleship (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4).
My sister sent me this book. She knows my TBR list is long so she is often patient with me on these things, and I do so hate to feel pressure to read a book NOW. But I picked this up one morning and spent the next few weeks reading little bits at a time. I found it refreshingly helpful. Nothing really profound here, but encouragement for areas I was already beginning to pursue such as adding The Book of Common Prayer readings to my life. I think the next thing I want to do is add more intentional silence. I also like and need the reminders that I am not in charge of the universe. I often carry undue burdens from that old feeling that "100 million souls a day are passing one by one away, they're passing to their doom." That is the tradition of Christianity, I came out of and the burden of it has been crippling. To see even how powerless I am to effect change in my own family or my own heart is a terrible burden. I need lots of reminders that it is God's work and not my own. I CAN rest in him.
I confess I didn't read the whole thing. I got half way through and didn't need to go further. What he writes about combining emotional health with contemplative practices is by no means new and his theology is bad. Henri Nowen is a much better source.
I heard Peter Scazzero earlier this year speak at a conference (he co-presented with his wife and I was deeply impressed with how the two worked together and rely on each other as a marital team). His seminar was excellent and so I was looking forward to reading his most famous book. It did not disappoint.
Scazzero wants Christians to be "emotionally healthy." He acknowledges that feelings can be fickle and heedlessly following our emotions is dangerous, but he also wants believers to be true to their feelings because they are part of who we are as being made in the image of God (Jesus experienced the whole range of human emotions) and that restraining them is also treacherous. He stresses that self-knowledge is foundational for our relationship with God and others. Scazzero's writing is accessible, with helpful illustrations and diagrams. Like many recent evangelicals, he makes use of the wisdom of the Church Fathers and Desert Fathers, particularly St. Ignatius of Loyola (prayer of examen) and St. Benedict (Scazzero touches upon a Rule of Life and strongly advocates for spiritual rhythms, but for a fuller treatment, I'd recommend Ken Shigematsu's "God In My Everything"). Scazzero also draws insights from psychology (sometimes I wonder if he bases too much of his assertions on modern psychology) and thinkers such as Martin Buber. Scazzero seeks to teach his readers how to grow maturely in relationship emotionally both with God and with other people. One insight in particular that stood out was Scazzero's explanation of how our family's history impacts us (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob's sons all lied, following the patterns set by their fathers). For many of us, we've picked up the habits, values and behaviours of our parents, regarding such things as gender roles, money management, childcare, etc...a husband who had an emotionally distant father may struggle to with emotional intimacy with his wife.
I would highly recommend this book for those who want to practice "emotionally healthy spirituality."
I would never recommend this book to anyone, especially anyone not solidly rooted in Biblical and theological truths.
While I am completely behind the idea that understanding one’s emotions is important to our journey in life, I don’t follow or agree with much else the author says in this book. The consequences of sin are absent, many Scripture references are absent, the incorrect emphasis is placed on personal effort and not much on the work or power of the Spirit. Sanctification isn’t mentioned. And, I don’t think the Gospel message and its transformative power was spoken of at all.
This book reminds me of the weak, wishy-washy sermons I heard and books I read in the early 2000’s. Very “culturally Christian” with a few relevant sentences here and there but not much grounded in Biblical truth.
Well, I got about 20 pages into this one, which I almost didn't.
Despite a promising title, the cover of the book had a few red flags: "Unleash a revolution in your life in Christ!" I don't really know what that means, despite it being the sort of phrase of buzzwords that has surrounded me for years, and the words "unleash" and "revolution" paired with "life in Christ" made my skin crawl. The tagline on the front, "it's impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally mature" had a cadence that made me read it exclusively in the voice of a movie trailer narrator (and now you are too. You're welcome).
The back of the book promises similar: "spiritual revolution," a way to "break through... to revolutionary life", to "unleash the Holy Spirit" (wait, that's dependent on a BOOK?!) and to "know the power of an authentic life in Christ." Meanwhile, I'm curled up in the fetal position over here mentally screaming TRIGGER WARNING FOR THE LOVE.
I am a big advocate for emotional health, which is why I picked this book up. I put it down for the same reason. The author may provide good insight (or maybe not? I wouldn't know) but I couldn't get there because my own mental health was suffering.
Once the book started taking the turn to compare "church leavers" and those who "attend services but are not active" (how do you even measure this, who are you to measure this -- oh wait, unsurprisingly, later in the book we hear about small groups and giving), became somewhat of an ad for the author's megachurch, and included the phrase "do life" (LIVE life! Live it!), I was 100% done.
So this is essentially a review of the first few pages and the cover, but honestly, if those things hadn't turned me off, I would've kept plowing through the book. I might have gained some insight from it. Unfortunately, I never got that chance.
I can never recommend a book the skews or misquotes scripture and claims that the Bible isn't enough, that you have to read their revelation in order to finally be healed. That is DANGEROUS. It is terrifying how many 5 star reviews there are for this book. People need to start hiding TheWord in their hearts or they will be lead so far astray
Where on earth is he getting scripture saying that John was out of line telling women in the bible to wear skirts and then saying that John went so far as to misquote scripture to support his point!? John never called anyone out on clothing.
This author is so out of line.
To quote another reviewer who said it very well: Unfortunately, the book then turned to an extremely dangerous course - what eventually the author reveals - Contemplative Spirituality. This is a combination of what use to be known as New Age spiritualism, meditation, and an unhealthy dose of borderline transcendental spiritualizing.
I believe the author correctly identifies a real problem in Christianity. Sadly, he also identifies the wrong prescription for dealing with said issue and ushers the reader into a realm best left alone.
My leader prefaced this book by saying, “His own wife left the church he was Pastor of, because of the lack of emotional heath.” I was hooked, and also thoroughly impressed with Peter Scazzero’s wife, Geri. From beginning to end, this book honestly digs at you. It prompts you to be more aware of self, and to set out truthful ways of making your soul and heart more mature through God’s love. The content was so rich, but the practicality of it all is what I treasure most. I hope to keep copies of this book by my desk always, because it’s worth turning back to, over and over again. Highly recommend this to church pastors and leaders.
The good: Emotional maturity is extremely important in your walk with the Lord. Be real with God about the things you are feeling.
The bad: Emotional maturity is linked to sanctification, that is not a part of this book. The more we ask and plead with God to make us into the image of Christ, the more emotional immaturity will be worked out of us. The author, instead of moving towards a sanctification outlook, looks to focusing on the inner self and knowing yourself so that you can see your faults, correct them, and then relate to God more. Scripture, however, calls us to not look inward, but upward (Col. 3:1 - Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God), and for us to know that we cannot fix ourselves (John 15:5 - …apart from Me you can do nothing).
A view of self having to improve to experience more of God is heart breaking, instead of experiencing more of God being the thing that improves us (into His image). The author does not use scripture to back up his ideas, faulting to stories of his own experiences instead. The times he does use scripture are simply examples of feelings and reactions of people within the Bible. His prescription for emotionally healthy spirituality is more time alone, more quiet time, more contemplation; all things that he also says early in the book will not help you experience God more fully. So a counterintuitive message is being revealed throughout the book that makes the point unclear. Do we want more of God or more knowledge of our inner self? I think this book leans more towards the latter. Knowing more about ourself, our past, our tendencies, our faults is not a bad thing. But what eternal value does it hold if it does not come as a part of the sanctifying work of the Spirit within you?
Spirituality is a tough term because I think it can often not have anything to do with knowing and loving Jesus. A true, deep, life changing relationship with our Savior is where sanctification is allowed to change us; the Spirit is not held back in His power by our thoughts and emotions. If we want to pursue emotional maturity, we are able to ask and plead God to mold us, prune us, and to make us more like Him. That should be the point of this book, not anything we can do, but only what God can. John the Baptist said it well when questioned by some disciples in John 3, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.”
I had not heard of Peter Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (2006) until a few months ago when a pastor friend of mine mentioned it in passing. Since then, when I have shared that I was reading this book, many friends and acquaintances told me how excellent it was. I am not sure why they left me in the dark so long.
As a pastor of a church, Scazzero was trying to lead through pure effort with no attention to his emotional life. Only when his relational life began to fray at the edges did he begin to take a closer look at emotion. At the outset of the book, he identified 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality that serve as a useful diagnostic tool.
Once we understand our emotional feebleness, Scazzero spends the later half of the book talking about what to do about. He encourages a deeper look inside, acknowledging the reality of emotions as a normal part of the Christian life. I particularly appreciated chapter 6, which dealt with the concept of a dark night of the soul, an issue too frequently ignored in the Christian life. For Scazzero, I think rightly, the dark night is a normative part of the Christian life, though too often, people run from it, rather than toward it, much to their detriment.
Near the end of the book, he encourages the practice of two specific disciplines--the daily office and the Sabbath--to grow in our understanding of God and understanding of self. Attention to God and delighting in his creation are essential practices that we too often hurry past.
On the whole, I think this is very beneficial book. It is a relatively easy read, but if you read it, take your time and ponder what the author has to say. He writes with lists and bullet points, which many people will find desirable, though don't believe that represents naive ideas that can be cast aside quickly.
This is a helpful book. Scazzero contends that most discipleship models fail to lead people into deep transformation because they leave deep parts of our lives and relationships untouched. What he prescribes is a combination of contemplative spirituality and practical skills for developing emotional maturity. While there are places where I think the author builds on thin or misguided exegesis of Scripture, and while I wish there was stronger theological/gospel content, I still found the book compelling, needed, and practical. Scazzero has a solid grasp of family systems theory, emotional intelligence, and the contemplative tradition. His chapter on growing into an emotionally mature adult (chapter 7) is worth the price of the book.
2020 - Still so much to learn! Glad I cracked this one open again...
2019 - Loved working through this book as part of the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship course. Great blend of deep insights, practical skills and spiritual direction. Very accessible - even for those who haven’t done any real “emotional work” before.
This is one I’ll pass around and return to, for sure!
Quite a few of the reviews on here commented that this book was not so flash theologically; I don't feel qualified to comment on that, nor comfortable rating the book for that reason. What I did enjoy about this was that it gives the reader permission address, rather than ignore and repress, their emotions- including the more negative ones. As someone who has been hurt by a church's interpretation of mental health issues in the past, this (alongside to be open and honest about doubts and struggles of faith) was a breath of fresh air.
I recommend this book to anyone who fills stuck in their honest pursuit of God. The author's unapologetic honesty is refreshing. His critique of the modern-day western church is in my opinion very founded. I believe that emotional health is a topic most church members and leaders would rather avoid.
I've personally experienced many things described in this book - how I used my faith as an additional layer to prevent me from growing up emotionally.
The author puts a strong emphasis on the family influence on our path toward spiritual maturity, but it is rather simplistic. The problem is much more complex. I recommend this book Father God: Daring to Draw Near as a better and more applicable resource.
I believe accusations of syncretism are not founded, but that rather clumsy usage of examples from the practices of Christian Mystics could turn some people off. If you stand firm in the Word, you should be more than fine.
The book is fully based on rumors. There are no opinions of the author. Only rumors and rumors again. I’m tired of religion and I pay attention to books without religion more. But Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleashing the Power of Authentic Life in Christ very disappointed me. After this book I’ve expected to understand spirituality deeper than now. Of course the best book is about this topic I’ve read is “a crossing or the drop's history" by Anatoliy Obraztsov “. I hope next books of Peter Scazzero will be really interesting and full of new information about spirituality. It’s very interesting to read his thoughts about this topic. Because, I like it. And expect it.
I don't even know where to begin. This book has presented me with so many ideas and ways to grow that I never even thought about. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who believes that Christ is there Lord and savior. I look forward to the period of growth that I am in and will continue to be in for some time as a result of this book. When you read it be sure to take a pen with you! It really helped me to write thoughts prayers and questions in the margins as I walked through these pages!
Kinda wild it took 23 years and this book for me to realize how my emotional maturity impacts my spiritual maturity. Scazzero is honest, compassionate, and biblical in his expression of this idea. This is an especially good read for guys (or anyone) like me, who's had trouble understanding how to express and understand difficult emotions.
Favorite Quote: God may be screaming at us through our physical body while we look for (and prefer) a more "spiritual" signal. The reality is that often our bodies know our feelings before our minds.
Fairly similar to the book Inside Out I read earlier this year. 5 stars for its ability to diagnose our emotional spiritual problems but only 3 stars for its proposed practical solutions which seemed too vague for me.
One of the books that has sat on my shelf all summer... forced myself to finish it today. Not my favorite, as I think it leans too strongly on personal experience than Scripture; reads like a spiritual self-help book rather than an "apply the Bible to your life and you will be sanctified into being more emotionally healthy". I haven't got into the Daily Offices book companion, but I am expecting it to be what I was looking for in terms of content. But there are some good truths and applications in here if someone is looking to do inner-work for the glory of Christ.
Okay I’m not rly a review girl but I have so many thoughts about this book. It has a lot of really good and helpful things in it. Butttt I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that emotions and spirituality are completely separate entitities which is basically what this book is based on. And don’t love the concept of “know yourself before you know God”. I feel like maybe it’s the opposite of that? But also learned some important stuff about spiritual disciplines! So overall I would recommend this to most people but take it with a grain of salt! If u read this ur cool!
“So l invite you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to make your home in me as you describe in John 14:23, to freely roam and fill every crevice of my life. And may the prayer of Job, finally, be mine: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
there's a thin balance between self-help and biblically-based advice. and it's an increasingly widening tightrope that Christian authors continue to toe. Scazzero joins the crowd and then sprints ahead of the pack.
it's evident from the book's beginning - there's a cavernous imbalance between quoting mystics, saints, pastors and quoting the Bible - and the final tally is not in the Apostle Paul's favor. beyond this, the 'must pay for the workbook' scheme is a little too money/bestselling author-y for my taste.
that said, there are a handful of helpful exercises and practices for both the infant and the seasoned christian. it's disheartening to find so little biblical evidence in the book's foundational elements. to add insult to injury, nearly all biblical examples are male-centered and leave very little room for female perspectives (not to mention Scazzero's anecdotes and biographical accounts).
i would recommend this read only on specific bases in established friendships and relationships - not as a widespread stamp of approval. a read to be walked through and talked through - above all with an open Bible and journal next its reader.
I can't explain how much this book has meant to me. So much about my heart, my soul, and my brain have grown in healing since I began it eight or nine months ago. It was like meeting with a therapist who helped me dig deep into my soul and realize that seemingly small wounds from the past affect the way I live my life now in huge ways. It helped me begin figuring out how to heal.
Reading this book over a long period of time made it so that every chapter pertained to where I was in my journey of healing. I'm still on that journey, but I will be looking back in the pages of this book at the countless underlines I made, because there are so many tools and insights that changed me and spoke so deeply to my soul.
Occasionally there were spots that were worded to sound just a bit too religiously regimented, but looking at the core idea behind those spots helped me see the value behind them, and this book had too much valuable truth in it for me to be turned off by those moments. Please, read this book.