Reviewing John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping has been like getting back in touch with an old friend. Although I never heard John live at any of the times I was at Willow Creek, I am a huge fan of his writing. Media such as the If You Want To Walk On Water You Have To Get Out of The Boat DVD small group series revolutionized my thinking about how video-based resources can revitalize home Bible studies.
Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You (Zondervan) is truly five books in one.
From the first chapter, you realize instantly that this book is in part a tribute to Ortberg’s friend and mentor Dallas Willard. The impact that Dallas and his wife had on John cannot be overstated. The book may well whet your appetite for reading works like Hearing God, The Divine Conspiracy, Spirit of the Disciplines, or Renovation of the Heart.
Second, the book betrays — more than I’ve seen in previous Ortberg books — his training in clinical psychology. I learned much about how we’re wired from reading this, and there are sections I intend to re-read.
Third, the book is very autobiographical. Married life for John and Nancy hasn’t been the stuff of Christian romance books. They have had their tensions and stresses. There is a raw transparency here that I truly appreciate, and thereby John “earns the right to be heard” with equal authority to his academic training.
Fourth, this is very much a doctrinal book, filled with scripture references and an understanding of the distinction between words like will, spirit, emotions and soul.
Fifth and finally, this is very practical how-to type of book that therefore belongs both in the Christian Living section of the bookstore, and the Self Help section. If you miss the advice this has to offer, you need to start back at the beginning.
I really hope that this book becomes infectious. It has so much to offer on so many different levels.