I AM SECOND: Real Stories. Changing Lives (Doug Bender & Dave Sterret)
By now, I Am Second the book follows a movement and established I Am Second phenomena, including website (www.iamsecond.com) and merchandising. Before reading the book, I had heard mention of the website and personal story format on radio and other media.
The theme of I Am Second is to highlight the stories of people who faced difficult circumstances and who were able to gain control of their lives and turn them around, often dramatically. The turnaround came when the individuals involved ‘made God first’ (hence the title), either in coming to faith in Christ in the first instance or in coming to newfound obedience as a believer.
The descriptions of these life-changes are presented well and are frequently compelling, and I found myself wrapped up in the dramatic stories and identifying occasionally with them.
One concern, however, for the book’s use as an evangelistic or motivational tool is that it might fall into the category of ‘celebrity conversion’ marketing: if this prominent athlete, musician or celebrity can turn his life around with God, so can you. And the reason for exploring the claims of God through Christ on the lives of people is almost solely limited to that of gaining control of a temporal life that is spinning out of control. As the stories are reported, very little attention is given to matters of eternal life and spiritual reconciliation with God, and without looking further a reader might be left with the impression that God – through Christ – is simply the best life coach.
Another concern is that personal accountability before God for sinful choices in life is not addressed. The first mention of ‘sin’ as I recall is on page 140, the first explanation of salvation as the substitutionary death of Christ for that sin is on page 166, and even then the biblical call for repentance and belief is not included.
However, the book does conclude with a clear – if not a bit too concise – explanation of the biblical gospel and next steps for the reader wishing to explore Christian truth further. Though not a theological powerhouse, I Am Second does present a compelling picture of the effects of sin in real lives, and how the grace of God can mend broken people. It’s worth a read.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Book Sneeze (BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com>) book review program. I was not required or encouraged to write a positive review; the thoughts expressed here are my own.