Paradox of Perfection Book Review

“Umm…” My husband said hesitantly as he reviewed a recent work project of mine, “Did you want me to give feedback on this?”

Taking a deep breath, I braced myself and nodded. I had expected, “oh cool,” not the implication there was a problem.

“The word ‘success’ is spelled wrong,” he grimaced.

So it was. Irony of ironies. Being a print piece fresh off the press, this wasn’t something I could just correct with a quick blush. The piece wasn’t perfect. I wrote, edited it, and then proofed it about 20 minutes. That meant I wasn’t perfect…and that can be hard for me to face.

Maybe you’re the same way.

You know you’re not perfect. You know no human but Jesus ever could be. But you still feel obligated to try and ashamed when you fall short.

Around the time of this incident, I received a request to review a book called The Paradox of Perfection.

The Paradox of Perfection is written by two Christian educators and therapists. Focused on Bible verses that call Christians to be perfect- and “conflicting” verses that show only Christ is perfect, this book deals with the conception and calling of perfection in the believers’ life.

Although a relatively short book, this is not light reading. In fact, many of the arguments made by the authors can read as unbiblical or confusing at first. With patience over the course of the book and careful attention, I found that my understanding of what the authors are saying doesn’t outrightly conflict with the Bible.

The concepts in the book are complex and breach philosophical, sociological, psychological, and theological approaches. As a result, it takes some processing to connect the main points. I would also note that if the Holy Spirit is included in the theology of the book, it wasn’t memorable or clear to me.

Some of the more accessible chapters of the book address specific types of perfectionism, like perfectionism in parenting or in marriage. These include charts that illustrate concepts and apply them in different arenas of life.

One sample quote from the book that demonstrates the main concept is:

“The perfection commanded of us by Christ is not a quality or characteristic of an individual, like flawlessness or independence. It is a way of relating to others that is enabled by God’s way of relating to us.”

For those interested in really pondering the concept of perfection and the ways perfectionism is viewed and addressed in western culture/church culture, The Paradox of Perfection may offer insights and perspective.

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