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Book review: God Breathed, by Josh McDowell

| by Tom Harper

Back in the early 90s, when I read one of Josh McDowell’s early apologetics books, I resonated with his personal story of seeking to know for sure if Christianity were true. When he explained he had proved the affirmative, at first I was skeptical, then intensely curious.

I hadn’t gotten past the introduction before I realized I was about to read an entire book of rational reasons to believe, and to my surprise, I confessed my own faith in that moment. I devoured the rest of the book.

So when Josh recently published God Breathed: The Undeniable Power and Reliability of Scripture, my fires lit again.

As a leader – whether you’re in the marketplace, the church, or some other sector – I pray this overview of McDowell’s latest book will deepen your faith and intensify your desire to apply the Bible in fresh ways.

“Strangely alive”

In chapter one, McDowell makes a bold claim: “The Bible is no ordinary book. Within its pages are hidden the answers to our every need, direction for our lives, and practical insights for living a life of fulfillment and joy” (pg. 14).

The purpose of his book, he says, is to help the reader know with certainty that the Bible is reliable, and that it is “strangely alive” (pg. 19).

McDowell splits his book into two parts. Section one discusses the power of Scripture, emphasizing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 22:37-40 that the whole of God’s Word hinges on love of God and love of others.

McDowell explains that “Scripture was written to lead us into a deeper love relationship with the One who wrote the book, and then also with everyone around us” (pg.  43).

Right beliefs lead to right behavior and right relationships, he says, and I would add that right beliefs also motivate right leadership.

This book is entry-level in some ways. I had expected more advanced concepts and fresher material, given that McDowell is entering the twilight years of his life, with more than 50 years of teaching and defending the Bible. Nevertheless, God Breathed encouraged me to rediscover the power of the Word.

Deeper leadership

McDowell’s emphasis on a relationship with God reminds me to get quiet with the Lord before I set out to lead others. All Scripture, he says, “reflects the loving heart of a God who wants us to know him intimately so we can enjoy all the benefits of our relationship with him.”

This personal God has given us instructions on how to think and live. However, “when we fail to allow God’s Word to correct us,” says McDowell, “we most likely suffer the consequences of wrong living” (pg. 45).

Failing to obey the Word in our personal lives causes us to suffer the consequences of wrong leading, too. When we live in intimate relationship with the Father, our leadership deepens.

Reliable power source

The rest of section one and most of section two delve into topics McDowell often speaks about, such as how we can be sure of the Bible’s divine authorship, who decided on the canon, tests for the Bible’s reliability, how to deal with supposed contradictions and errors, and some of the tough questions posited by critics.

Though I’ve encountered much of this material elsewhere, reading it again in McDowell’s confident style strengthened my belief in the Word’s reliability.

God Breathed has reenergized me to live and lead in the power of the Holy Spirit, guided by the Word of God, following the example of Jesus. If you’re looking for motivation to study the Bible and unleash its power in your own life, I highly recommend picking up this book.

And then, by all means, put it down and dive into the Bible itself, where you will encounter the Word of life and the wisdom of God in the greatest book ever written.

For the word of God is alive and active.
Heb. 4:12 (NIV)


Tom Harper

Tom Harper is publisher of and CEO of Networld Media Group, the site's parent company. He has written three books, including Through Colored Glasses: How Great Leaders Reveal Reality (DeepWater Books, 2018), Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H, 2010), and Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry (B&H, 2007). Tom serves as a lay leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., where he attends with his wife and three children.

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