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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Book Review

The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.

I heard someone talking about this book the other day and then remembered that someone I love gave me a copy of it. So I searched the bookshelf in the basement and found the book.

Like other Wilkinson books, this one is not long, so you find yourself working through it in a day or two. People want to have significance. We want to believe we were created with purpose. We know inside there is more to life than what we see. Wilkinson's book addresses these issues.

I'll just be honest here...I did not like the book. However, I do think it's necessary to explain some reason's why. I think the book brought up unique thoughts for me that I'm glad it created the opportunity to formulate.

Wilkinson begins the book with a self generated parable. Of course, the Greatest Teacher of all time used parables, so it's a highly effective method to use...but it's probably the hardest teaching method as well. The story is actually a little hard to follow by the fact that Wilkinson turns adjectives into proper nouns for the sake of his story. Proper nouns include: Ordinary, Nobody, Somebody, Anybody, Familiar, Wall of Fear, Comfort Zone, Dream, Dreamer, Dream Giver. He then capitalizes these words later in his book, even when they aren't specifically refering to his proper noun (ie. "You will feel the strength and peace you need to accomplish Great Things" p98). It gets confusing. Also, I don't believe this was an intentional action of his, but the capitalization also seems to add greater gravity to his points. It made it seem like we were referring to something more authoritative than Wilkinson's fictitious story.

Wilkinson argues we were all born with a dream since we are created in God's image. He argues that is part of what it means to be an image-bearer of God (p.77). Wilkinson does not explain where he gets this conclusion other than experience. He does use I Corinthians 1:27 out of context, however, to say that we should all pursue our dream.

Border Bullies. Wilkinson talks about those who oppose your pursuit of your dream. He tells you their very presence should encourage you that you are headed toward your dream (p 103). He then tells you the bully is either motivated by fear, a dislike of change, a defeatist attitude, or they just don't like you (p 104). Nowhere does he acknowledge that they may be a form of accountability or genuinely know what they are talking about. They are to be convinced or overcome, but not listened to. He later makes the same argument about Giants, which are either people or things that create opposition.

He calls D.L. Moody an "innovative nineteenth-century leader." (p 111) I'm sorry, Moody was an amazing evangelist. It may seem nitpicky, but why not acknowledge the gospel mission? Why just call Moody a leader?

Actually, the gospel is never presented. It may be assumed. It may be alluded to. But it is never clearly articulated in a way that would explain justification of sin. One is never encouraged to examine their dreams in light of presenting the gospel. In fact, no distinction is ever made between a dream before or after regeneration. Paul says I am dead in my sin (Ephesians 2). My sin nature consumes all of me. Wouldn't that mean my dream had selfish motives? Wouldn't that mean my dream was more about me than about God? He never acknowledges a shift in the dream. In fact, he says one way to find what your dream is, is to remember what you wanted to be when you were a child (p 81).

According to Wilkinson, the dream is mine. This book is flooded with the second person pronoun. Sure, there was a Giver of the dream, but He gave it to me, I must pursue it, I must overcome obstacles, I must make it work, I will find satisfaction in it. I think at one point he tries to put the focus on God, saying we must be willing to release the dream to Him. But He spends chapter 12 telling us that we give up the dream to receive something better. He encourages us to look to the Dream Giver, but spends the whole time talking about our dream.

It's hard to review books like this. I don't want to sound arrogant or like a jerk. I think Wilkinson wants to help people. I think he's trying to call people to action and to a higher purpose than mortgages and careers. It's a short book, so I know he's not covering everything in great detail. Yet the book seems to lack balance and is quite void of contextually correct Scripture.

I'm not critiquing Wilkinson the author. I certainly don't think I could write a better book. But I am critiquing "The Dream Giver" the book, I just can't think of a situation where I would recommend it to anyone.

I'd rate the book a "1 point Caribou."


  • At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am fascinated by your choice of reading. "The Holiness of God" and "The Dream Giver"? Nothing like a healthy diet of steak and marshmallows. I remember when Bruce Wilkinson used to do some good exegetical studies. My opinion is that "Dream Giver" was an attempt to recapture the "Jabez" market, though I can't imagine he needs the money. By the way, I have a copy of Joel Osteen's book, "Your Best Life Now" that you can borrow if you are in need of some instant self-gratification.

  • At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One more thing. I was reminded of I Corinthians 15:19. "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." There's something inherently wrong with the current glut of books and sermons that emphasize how Jesus can make your life better now. Paul seems to indicate that salvation and the gospel are not primarily focused on benefits for this lifetime, but benefits for eternity.

  • At 10:54 AM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    After reading "Prayer of Jabez" I made the personal decision not to waste my time on any of Bruce Wilkinson's stuff. His video-series "7 laws of the learner" wasn't bad, but I was forced to watch it in seminary, so I guess BW has done some good things.

    Just please don't lump Rick Warren into the group that includes Bruce Wilkinson and Joel Osteen. Rick is both an amazing evangelist and innovative leader, in the company of Moody and others. Christianity just won't recognize him as such until about 50-60 years from now.

  • At 12:50 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    Who said anything about Rick Warren? Why did you bring him into the discussion about "Dream Giver?"

    As for him not being recognized for 50-60 years from now...what the heck do you call having the number one best selling Chrisitan book this side of the Bible? Guy has oodles of recognition. I really don't see how it can go anywhere but down 50-60 years from now.

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    I'll bring Rick Warren up if I want to. It's my life, dew.

    I didn't say you did. I am just standing up for the PDL.


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