Review of Unburdened: the secret to letting God carry the things that weigh you down

July 23, 2010

Unburdened: the secret to letting God carry the things that weigh you down
©2010 by Chris Tiegreen
Published by Saltriver
219 pages

Chris Tiegreen is a very engaging writer who works for Walk thru the Bible. He is currently the editor for indeed magazine, which the Walk thru the Bible website describes a “deeper life” devotional. He as authored a series of one-year devotionals for Walk thru the Bible and four other books. He comes across as very honest and sincere, willing to share his personal struggles and shortcomings.

The major premise of this book is that we as believers can obtain a level of freedom that non-Christians cannot. Our burdens do not have to defeat us because we have God’s promises. “The unburdened life isn’t so much about avoiding burdens as it is about carrying them with the strength of Another” (p.12). We must “spend more time dwelling on how big God is than on how big our problems are” (p.34).

There is much good counsel in this book. Tiegreen encourages us to trust in God, to rely on his promises. He challenges us to draw strength from the Psalms, which “are more than historical information. They are case studies” (p. 75). He warns against being preoccupied with our own agendas and fears of the future. Good advice all, but I cannot recommend the book.

In his introduction he admits that the deeper life movement has influenced him. In particular he mentions three books; Let Go, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret and Absolute Surrender. I was familiar with Hudson Taylor and Andrew Murray (Absolute Surrender) but not with Let Go, which was written by Francois Fenelon. Tiegreen refers to Fenelon as a “seventeenth-century French theologian” (p. 105). He was actually a Roman Catholic priest who advocated Quietism .

This influence shows up in the book. While discussing different types of trust in God he writes
“Another kind of trust involves believing God for something he has specifically promised us. When we’ve prayed a request and received a confirmation from him by faith – relevant and pointed Bible verses brought to our attention, a timely word in sermons or from other believers, outward signs that confirm God’s voice to us, the repeated whisper of his Spirit in our hearts, and any of the other ways he speaks…” (p. 87).

Later he gives a personal anecdote
“I had been weighed down by a huge prayer request for a very long time. I was convinced God had promised the answer I was asking for, but the answer lingered. And lingered. And lingered some more. Anyone who has waited on God to fulfill a promise can understanding the pain of waiting – and the questions that come with it. Did I hear him wrong? Have I been presumptuous? Am I believing him for something he never promised? Have I missed his answer somehow? Did I get disqualified by sinning or losing faith?” (p. 167)

The things that God has “specifically promised us” are in the Scriptures. They are objective truth. There is no need for subjective “confirmations.” The “other ways” God speaks are not whispers and signs, but the Word of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). The questions that he asks on p. 167 are the wrong questions. Did he hear God wrong? I don’t know, was what he heard from the pages of holy writ? Was he presumptuous? I don’t know, was this something promised in the Bible? Did he believe for something God never promised? Again, that depends, was it in the Scriptures?

In the end-notes, Tiegreen references over 175 Bible passages. I only wish he didn’t wonder off the sure-footed path of Scripture onto the slippery slope of subjectivism.

This book freely provided for review by Tyndale House Publishers and there was no expectation of a positive review.

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