Read Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch Online


Power corrupts—as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry. Yet power is also the means by which wPower corrupts—as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry. Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is "playing god" as it is meant to be. If we are to do God's work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power? With his trademark clear-headed analysis, Andy Crouch unpacks the dynamics of power that either can make human flourishing possible or can destroy the image of God in people. While the effects of power are often very evident, he uncovers why power is frequently hidden. He considers not just its personal side but the important ways power develops and resides in institutions. Throughout Crouch offers fresh insights from key biblical passages, demonstrating how Scripture calls us to discipline our power. Wielding power need not distort us or others, but instead can be stewarded well. An essential book for all who would influence their world for the good....

Title : Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780830837656
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power Reviews

  • James Smith
    2019-04-01 01:40

    Provocative, timely, important, written with some stellar prose and the poignancy Crouch is known for as a speaker. The end of the book takes a bit of a memoiristic slide in which Andy seems to be the constant example, but elsewhere he draws on the stories of others--in India, China, and elsewhere. I can't imagine who shouldn't read this. I'll be writing a review for Comment magazine. Watch for it at

  • Barnabas Piper
    2019-04-13 20:23

    Crouch remains one of the best authors I have ever read at crafting a paradigm and a framework into which vital concepts of life fit. In this one he looks at the complexities of power and our abuses and misunderstandings of it as well as what God intends for it. It is transcendent book in parts, but plods a bit here and there. Over all it is well worth reading and a valuable, helpful book.

  • Bob
    2019-04-16 21:33

    I think many of us have developed our understanding of power from Lord Acton's axiom: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. For most of us, that is the end of story and this accounts, at least among many Christians I know, for a deep aversion to anything like the exercise of power.Andy Crouch has a different take that is evident in the word play in his title Playing God. We often think "playing God" is the worst manifestation of abusing power. But Crouch would argue that as image bearers, people who reflect something of the nature of God, we "play" like God in using power, and that this was originally intended for the flourishing of fellow human beings, and the creation, for creating cultural goods and even good institutions.Crouch explores the original gift to power and how it has been distorted through idolatry, which he defines as giving to some cultural artifact ultimate significance. And idolatry leads to injustice as idols demand allegiance that undermines the flourishing of human beings. Crouch argues that instead of idol-making, our calling is to be icons, literally those who are seen through, giving glimpses of the Creator who made us to be like Him.In the next part of his book, he explores the nature of power. Power is often hidden and yet exists, even in characters like Michael Scott from The Office. He talks about the realities of force, violence, and coercion and what impressed me is the nuanced fashion in which he did so, recognizing these can be used for evil or good (an argument pacifists may not accept). Finally, he exposes the realities of privilege, the perquisites of power we often are not even aware we have, except when we see ourselves through those who do not have them.For me the third part of the book was most interesting because he explores power in the context of institution-making. Again, we often see institutions in a negative light but Crouch argues that institutions can be gifts for good if we assume our responsibilities as trustees of these institutions.Finally, he explores the end of power through the lenses of discipline, sabbath, and the consummation of power in the return and ever-lasting reign of Christ. True power is like the prodigal father who uses all he has to maintain and restore his relationships and the flourishing of both of his sons, the younger profligate one, and the older resentful one.This is an important book. What I believe often happens in Christian communities is that we try to deny the existence of power and thus become less self-aware of how we may exercise it, both for ill and for good. This, to me, seems greater than the danger of the conscious exercise of power that is cognizant of how power may be abused but also how power might be used to serve others and to promote their flourishing. Furthermore, our aversion to admitting the gift of power we've been given is the denial of the gifts of God, both those inherent in our humanity, and those spiritually endowed among the redeemed people of God. My hope is that Crouch's book is widely read, that a new way of using power is charted that neither makes it into an idol nor denies its existence but redeems this gift and uses it for good.

  • Mark Jr.
    2019-04-04 20:26

    Andy Crouch’s title Playing God has a double meaning. 1) Idols play God by lording it over and ultimately enslaving those underneath their sway. 2) But this doesn’t mean playing God is necessarily wrong—we were created to mimic our Creator not just in service but in what Genesis calls “dominion.” The difference between 1) playing God and 2) playing God is the difference between using your God-given power to enslave or limit other divine image-bearers and using it to enable their flourishing. It’s the difference, in biblical terms, between maximizing the profit from your fields and leaving the corners ungleaned for the benefit of the poor (a biblical idea Crouch helpfully explores). It’s the difference between using a poor man’s debt as an excuse to bond his children into lifelong slavery and using your power to strengthen the institution of law enforcement so that it can put a stop to this slavery. Power, Crouch argues, is not evil. It’s good. God made it and God has it. And God has apportioned it to us to use in holy, circumscribed imitation of him.But Crouch’s subtitle is likely to put off some readers of this review: “Redeeming the Gift of Power.” I’d say only that if the Bible is allowed to use redemption terminology for something other than the salvation of individual souls (Luke 2:38), and if a writer is allowed to explain what he means, then there need be no problem. Crouch brings up the social gospel explicitly, and he just as explicitly excoriates it. But something he doesn’t exactly say (though what he says is quite consistent with it) might help us here: the Bible calls us on to perform “good works.” Don’t let legalistic religions steal “good works” from you! We were "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph 2:10), after all. And why should those good works be made into a category separate from our “secular" vocations? Why should we limit the performance of good works to after 5 pm and weekends? What is wrong with a Christian founding a micro-financing institution in rural Cambodia? He is using his God-given power creatively, for the benefit of others, for good works. And if he takes his Bible seriously, people around him will know to glorify his Father in heaven for these good works (Matt 5:16). Conservative Christians are right to probe for the “balance” on this issue: when do my good works for others actually start obscuring the verbal gospel message? But books like Crouch’s are a help, not a hindrance, in exploring this important question.Playing God should be read as a sequel to Crouch’s other major book, Culture Making [three bucks on Kindle right now], which argued that God's original commands to mankind in Genesis 1—fill the earth, subdue it, have dominion over it—have never been abrogated, that they require us today to cultivate and create. Cultivate what is good in existing human traditions and create anew on top of those traditions. "The only way to change culture is to make more of it.” (p. 201)As I said in my review of that book, this statement should be a welcoming briar patch for all the Brer Rabbits in Christian liberal arts higher education. This is precisely what we do: we teach our students the existing tradition of our disciplines, and we hope that by doing so they will be able to develop those traditions in a biblically faithful direction whether by correction or addition. But in both of his major books, Crouch’s focus goes beyond education to all the realms of human culture. And in Playing God, he examines from many angles a topic, power, that is even more touchy than education.Underlying much of the academic fascination with power, it seems to me, is the presupposition that power is essentially about coercion—that even when power looks life-giving and creative, it actually cloaks a violent fist in a creative glove. I believe this is exactly backwards. I actually believe the deepest form of power is creation, and that when power takes the form of coercion and violence, that is actually a diminishment and distortion of what it was meant to be. (pp. 10–11)True to this introductory paragraph, Crouch’s book is not a manual for Christian reconstruction along theonomist lines. Crouch even makes a great point of discussing the limits to our power that the Bible enjoins (much as, in Culture Making, he is less than optimistic about the results of Christian culture making, preferring to leave those in God’s hands). For example, Crouch is the first Christian I’ve ever heard seriously consider, let alone propose, that believers observe a “sabbath year.” It never occurred to me that a Christian might view this Old Testament principle as any sort of obligation, or even a blessing. And to be clear, I don’t think we’re obligated—nor do I think we can obligate God to fulfill his promise to Israel that he’d give them extra crops during the sixth year (the year before the sabbatical year). But Crouch doesn’t think ancient Israelites who took a year off were idle; they were free to engage in other cultural, familial, academic, and religious pursuits. This is a purposeful limiting of one’s agricultural power. Likewise the jubilee year is a limiting of one’s power to insist upon repayment of debts. Crouch’s exploration of this topic is penetrating and biblically rich.But rather than tour his argument at length, I would like to focus on what was the most helpful and memorable section of Crouch’s book for me personally: his discussion of institutions (see him talk about this topic on YouTube). I found his analysis to be very illuminating. Institutions, he said (aided by the work of Hugh Heclo and D. Michael Lindsay) comprise four elements: arenas, artifacts, rules, and roles.“A football” is a cultural artifact, but “football” is a cultural institution: a rich and complex system of behaviors, beliefs, patterns and possibilities that can be handed on from one generation to the next. And it is within institutions, in this broad sense of the word, that our most significant human experiences take place. Institutions are at the heart of culture making, which means they are at the heart of human flourishing and the comprehensive flourishing of creation that we call shalom. Without institutions, in fact, human beings would be as feeble and futile as a flat football. (p. 170)An institution like football has pretty clear rules, because it’s a formalized game. But its rules extend beyond those enforced by the referees to include those “rules” observed by fans (don’t cheer for rivals, don’t be a "fair-weather” fan), the media (cover important games and players), and others. And the roles the institution creates make it possible for some people to use gifts—like the ability to loft an oblong leather ball great distances under extreme pressure with astounding accuracy—that would never otherwise be used, or at least featured to the public. The arenas of the institution of football, too, include not just FedEx Field in D.C. but all of the many stadiums, offices, media sound stages, T-shirt designers, etc. used to keep the system flowing. It becomes clearer the more you think of the sheer number of jobs created by the institution of football that “institutions create and distribute power, the ability to make something of the world.” (p. 170)Now apply this analysis to your most beloved institution: what is the arena in which it operates? What artifacts does it create? What are its rules? What roles does it create—in other words, how does it enable human flourishing (the true test of power, Crouch says)? How can you contribute to a good institution’s neighbor-loving goals? And because institutions are capable of great evil as well as great good, what’s wrong with the rules at your institution? Are roles being squelched that should be developed? Are its artifacts worth producing?I don’t know that I was knowingly anti-institutional before this month, but this book (and an issue of Comment I read) have shown that I was largely taking institutions for granted. What I have now is not a program for climbing the ladder at my institution but a deepened, biblically informed desire to do good works for others by means of the multiplied effectiveness of group effort we know as an “institution." (One thing I might have liked Crouch to discuss a bit more is the limits and dangers of parachurch institutions.)There is a great deal that separates me from Andy Crouch. He identifies with “Wesleyan instincts” (p. 284) I don’t share. He works for Christianity Today and other mainstream evangelical institutions. Especially at the level of institutions we have no links that I can think of—save, perhaps, for the diffuse “institution” of American evangelicalism. But it is a testimony to the power of evangelicalism’s take on the Bible and, I think, to the power of the Holy Spirit, that I can derive so much benefit from someone who differs from me so much. For example, I regard it as a very significant inconsistency that Crouch dismisses a straightforward reading of Genesis 1–3 and nonetheless builds his two major books (this one and Culture Making) firmly on the teachings of those chapters. Far from diminishing my faith in Genesis 1, Crouch has strengthened it by showing how relevant it is to daily life in this world. And far from denying or diminishing the fall in Genesis 3, which becomes problematic if there was no historical Adam (see Rom 5), Crouch seems very sensitive to the effects of the fall on even the best, most well-intentioned efforts of mankind. He is no Pollyanna. And "Redeeming the Gift of Power" doesn’t mean launching an effort to get as many evangelicals as possible into positions of political authority. That’s just not the way Crouch talks.I don’t see this book as a threat to Christian conservatives. I see it—along with its more or less prequel, Culture Making—as essentially a call to biblical obedience. I also see it as freeing for the vast majority of Christian conservatives, that is, the people who sit in the pews and live in the 9-to-5 secular world. I imagine it could sound cloying to a Christian factory foreman when a upper-class white intellectual who listens to John Eliot Gardiner on Spotify all day and types up blog posts on his MacBook Pro tells him, “Your job is a significant exercise of power for the good of your neighbor!” But I think it’s biblical truth. God has called us to teach all nations everything Christ commanded us. But He’s called most of us to spend far, far, far more of our daily hours making widgets, testing soil acidity, binding paperback books. This isn’t an accident. We should all use the power gifted to us for God-glorifying and neighbor-loving ends.(One more note: this book is one side of a conversation Crouch is having with many people, but perhaps especially James Davison Hunter, author of To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. That book is on my Kindle waiting to be read, so I can’t speak to his objections.)

  • Trice
    2019-03-24 20:26

    12/1/2016: switching this audiobook to my never-finished shelf. I find some of his thoughts interesting, but I've been disappointed so far that it's just not at a level to interact with the poli sci books of various sub-divisions that I'm reading about power. I think it's probably a good resource at a popular level, but I found some of his explanations frustratingly over-simplified myself. I've kept his list of references to check out, and actually, I already have one of the Oliver O'Donovan books mentioned on my shelf (The Desire of the Nations) that I've been meaning to get to. I may come back to Playing God at some point - it is in audio after all, so makes for good company - but for now, I'm setting it aside for other things.started 9/2/2016

  • John
    2019-04-08 20:23

    “I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken” writes C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity. “What I cannot understand is the sort of semi-pacifism that you get nowadays which gives people the idea that, though you have to fight, you ought to do it…as if you were ashamed of it.” According to Lewis, this attitude “robs magnificent young Christians in the [armed] Services” of “gaiety and wholeheartedness”.It is undoubtedly one of the more bizarre paragraphs in Lewis’ oeuvre. The basic rhetorical move here is sometimes called the “false dilemma” – if something (war) cannot be unequivocally condemned, then it can be uncomplicatedly celebrated – and it seems to me that Lewis’ application of it inadvertently provides a pungent counterexample. Even as we celebrate the courage of the warrior who faces death with “gaiety and wholeheartedness”, many of us would acknowledge that if that same warrior deals death without shame, he is thereby diminished as an icon of Christ.Andy Crouch’s Playing God is an extended but similar false dilemma applied not to the concrete reality of war, but to the abstraction “power”. If “power” cannot be unequivocally condemned (and Crouch argues that it cannot), then there has to be a way that it can be uncomplicatedly celebrated (and he undertakes to show us what that is). To quote the dust jacket: “Wielding power need not distort us or others, but instead can be stewarded well through sabbath and spiritual practices.”Everyone knows, more or less, what war is, but “power” is a slipperier concept. In the course of the book the referent of the word veers between mere “potential”, the ability of human beings to act creatively, and “domination” , the ability of one human being to compel another to act in a certain way, irrespective of her will: between potentia and potestas, as we might say. If one wishes to construct a false dilemma, such ambiguity is advantageous. Who could condemn potentia out of hand? – is it not (as Crouch correctly argues) a creational gift, an original good, and (however distorted by sin) able to be redeemed? (See his excellent earlier book, Culture Making, for a development of this theme.) But Crouch will have it that one who admits this is thereby committed to a similar view of potestas – “the hard truth is that no society can survive without coercion” and therefore (?) coercion too must be in some sense a creational good. Crouch summarizes the view of power that he is disagreeing with in this way…anyone attempting to exercise power, or anyone who finds themselves with power, privilege or status, whether they like it or not, must imagine themselves perched on a steep and slippery slope that leads to violence, and must be constantly trying to avoid slipping down that slope. Even if we manage to avoid slipping all the way down, we will never be able to shake the accusation that ultimately what we are involved in is degrading.That is a pretty accurate summary of my own understanding of power (potestas) and it is therefore disconcerting, to say the least, to hear Crouch’s crisp dismissal: “if (this view) is right, then Christianity is not true and Christian faith is foolish.” Apparently the greatest danger Crouch sees is that Christians will be too diffident, that they will hold back from energetically exercising the power that God has given them. Few outsiders (and here I speak as one of them) would concur that an excess of diffidence is the besetting sin of American Evangelicalism.There is so much that is good in this book. Crouch is aware of and names distortions of power, the denials (“We’re all servant leaders here”), the ego trips, the patronizing benevolence that can infect short-term missions, and he is also aware of ways in which creative power can be nurtured and preserved through institutional structures and culture-making (excellent chapters on this). He offers sound pastoral advice for those in positions of coercive power. But, for me, the book is ultimately vitiated by its facile assumption that “wielding power need not distort us” if we just get our spiritual practices right – like Lewis’ soldier who, freed from liberal self-doubt, goes about killing the enemy with “gaiety and wholeheartedness”. In neither situation, it seems to me, can the stain be so easily expunged.Towards the middle of the book, the mention of Babylon leads Crouch into a meditation on the second Gulf War.One gauge of the depth of Hussein’s madness and blindness was his refusal to bend to the international community’s demand for clarity about Iraq’s capability for nuclear and chemical warfare.This is a pusillanimous sentence. Hussein is named and shamed as a madman (rightly so!) while Bush and Blair and their cronies get to shelter behind the alias “international community”. In fact, it is hard to doubt that the US and British leaders had set a course for war well in advance of any “international demand for clarity” about Iraq’s non-existent WMDs. And why had they done so? Both men profess Christian faith, and I think it plausible that their confidence in the virtuous nature of their own intentions misled them into believing that their potestas could be virtuously exercised, that they could in fact wield power without distortion, that they could, as Karl Rove reportedly said, “create our own reality”. In other words, they led their nations into a disastrous and unjust war of choice because they believed the theology of this book.

  • Ivan
    2019-04-01 19:33

    Wow, what a book. Penetrating and paradigm-shifting examination of power. Certain sections could have been shortened or eliminated, but overall this is a gift of a book.

  • John Alsdorf
    2019-04-09 19:21

    An important subject, handled with truth and graceAndy Crouch has written a book that every Christian will benefit from. He helps us realize the true nature of the power we all have, beginning even in infancy....and how it can be used to contribute to the flourishing of family, neighbors...all.

  • James
    2019-04-05 00:44

    This is one of those books that I think will be really impactful for me. Crouch examines God's creative intent for human power (flourishing and imagebearing). Here is my full review:

  • Celine
    2019-03-31 20:29

    Highly intriguing look at what is, for me at least, an increasingly complicated subject. Most interesting were Crouch's thoughts on the Tea Party and privilege. Great read.

  • Daniel Attaway
    2019-03-19 23:47

    This is an important book for our cultural moment and Andy Crouch shepherds readers through a way of viewing power in light of our design and the coming new creation—a positive, good news framework for power. Yes, it’s possible. It’s already challenged me in areas where I enjoy privilege or power and how those ought to serve my neighbor, not increase my comfort or pleasure.

  • Carter Phillips
    2019-04-14 23:24

    This book is a fascinating piece and what it means to bear the image of God. It’s great at pointing out the goodness of power but also the idolatry of power and where it can, and has, go wrong. Totally changed my opinion that Christians should rid themselves of all forms of power.

  • James A Kirk
    2019-03-22 22:29

    WonderfulA fantastic corrective to both typical secular liberalism cynicism about power as well as typical secular conservatives blind enthusiasm about it. Nuanced, wise, insightful, challenging, and ultimately hopeful that our power could be used redemptively.

  • Danielle
    2019-04-14 22:45

    Found it slightly difficult to string a coherent line of argument from the start to end of the book. But within each chapter there were some gems about how idolatry corrupts power which should stimulate flourishing. The analysis of Paul's letter to Philemon was probably the clearest part.

  • Justin
    2019-04-11 23:31

    A bit hit or miss, in my opinion. His chapter on idolatry is one of the best I have read on that subject. His chapter on the nature of institutions is also fascinating.

  • Jon Pentecost
    2019-04-02 01:35

    I started this book because I was impressed with several interviews of Crouch I had recently heard. He seems a sharp and stimulating thinker.But I had a hard time with this book. He paints one metaphorical picture after another, interspersed with playing with the varied definitions of a given word. Some may enjoy this impressionistic approach to an idea, but it left me feeling frustrated, just wanting him to say something clearly. His clear rhetorical gifts actually clouded his meaning. While he uses Scriptural concepts, it never felt like he was building a biblical argument for his views. It seems like a lot of people really enjoyed this book (by average number of stars given), so maybe it's just me, and you'll actually benefit. But I think metaphors only go so far in explaining what a thing (in this case, power) actually is and should be.

  • Coyle
    2019-04-14 17:47

    Overall, Playing God is an excellent work on the nature of power from a Christian perspective. Thoughtful and well-written, the book explores the use and abuse of power in a way that is even-handed, constructive, and beneficial to the careful reader. And while this book is perhaps a bit denser than the average book on the Evangelical market, it is all the more useful for that. Crouch burrows deep into a topic where others no doubt would skim the surface, and explores power in its complex and varied forms.The biggest weakness of this book is that Crouch is a bit hazy on where exactly the Gospel fits into the discussion of power. He talks much about the cross as a place of victory, but little about it as a place of atonement: This discussion is particularly useful for Americans, who are inclined to be suspicious of power and authority (unless of course it’s our own power and authority under consideration, in which case it is of unimpeachable merit). We all believe that those out there with more power than us are out for both our blood and their own benefit, and that they must be restrained at almost all costs. Yet, Crouch reminds us that there’s more to power than domination and destruction. Power can also restrain, discipline, focus, and build. It can certainly be used by the strong to enslave the weak (some of Crouch’s best examples come from his time working with International Justice Mission to end such practices), but in the right hands it can also be used to liberate the oppressed. Crouch encourages us to look beyond the naked exercise of power itself to the source of that power and as whether it is flowing from evils such as injustice or idolatry, or from godly attempts to reflect the image of the Creator by working good and justice in the world.Read the rest here:

  • Lpeterso
    2019-04-19 23:22

    In anticipation of Andy Crouch's guest speaking engagement on our campus, I was thrilled to have a chance to read his work before his arrival. However, I was only halfway through the book when the date arrived, and I'm a little surprised how hearing him in person changed my perception of the first half of the book. This is obviously a well thought out book, and Crouch went to considerable length to explain nuances in the book, but by comparison the same content was dealt with much more quickly in his live presentation. His spoken word in, say, 15 minutes, conveyed several chapters of content, and provided more clarity of the content than his written word did. Too much commentary in the book, although it's apparent he is trying to be thorough. So, I would have given the book five stars, except for the realization that he could have covered the same content in fewer words and made the cover-to-cover reading experience much quicker, which would have provided a greater sense of cohesiveness. Some takeaways: *the "jussive" mood in the Biblical account of creation (the "let there be....") was incredibly eye-opening; totally changes the way I read this text, and makes me more attentive to other sentences where there might be imperatives. *the usage of "image bearers", to describe the concept of the ideal human; those who most closely resemble God in his granting of power to his creation.*the idea that an organization is made up of roles, rules, arenas, and artifacts (consider each of these within the National Football League); our understanding of each of these is crucial for the organization's ability to carry out its purpose.I'd give this book another read if opportunity allows. I'd also read more by this author.

  • Robert D. Cornwall
    2019-04-05 00:23

    This is one of those books where you are standing with the author, and moving away at the same time. The title "Playing God" carries with it an important theological component that is carried through the book, and that is humans are "image bearers," and as such share in the work of God. There is power present within this reality of being image bearers, but it can be and has been corrupted and stands in need of redemption.The purpose of power is this -- it "is for flourishing -- teeming fruitful, multiplying abundance." (p. 35). It is a gift of God and is meant to be stewarded. But of course power can go wrong. In the course of the book Crouch makes it clear that to be a follower of Jesus itself involves engagement with power. Jesus, he suggests, didn't empty himself of power in becoming incarnate. What he gave up was privilege. Here is the key to the question of power -- dealing with privilege.I found the book insightful and provocative. I also felt that the author was blind to his own privilege, especially when he speaks of responses to poverty. It's clear he's never really experienced it. It is a book to take a look at. I liked it, but had my issues as well. Perhaps that is because I struggle with my own sense of privilege.

  • Jay
    2019-03-20 19:22

    There were so many great nuances explored in this concept of power, and how it plays out in various phases and positions in life on multiple interpersonal levels. Andy Crouch nearly gives a handbook to first dissecting power for what it is, how it works, what it's intended uses can and should be (based on a comprehensive understanding of creation and then the gospel), which is then explored in various swaths of history and modern realms.And as the greatest joy in Crouch's writing, he draws plenty of examples from Jesus' life as well as the broader chronicles of Israel's journey through institutionalizing structures of power. Using these as well as many other great case studies of both the use and misuse of power, he lays out sensitive roadmaps for how we may begin to likewise navigate our use of power, in ways that help others come alive and that shape our world from good to very good.

  • Paul
    2019-04-14 23:21

    Andy Crouch's most recent book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power addresses common yet powerful misconceptions on the formulation of power and returns his audience to a biblical understanding of creative original power from the very beginning to the revelatory end of time. Although false power corrupts, the nature of true power is often misunderstood but image-bearing and life-giving all the same. Indeed, the power of God's love is a gift as opposed to a curse and is embodied by empowered and loving persons and people in counterpoint to individuals who and institutions which continue to perpetuate idolatry and injustice. Real power, according to the parables, practices classic spiritual disciplines, removes privilege, respects the Sabbath, and is the father's love for his prodigal sons.

  • Carol Kuniholm
    2019-04-19 23:43

    We all have and use power. We all pretend we don't. I found Andy Crouch's discussion of power challenging, encouraging, and frustrating.Challenging, because I'm reminded of the ways I've used power badly, or failed to use it wisely, or allowed others to misuse power to do harm without questioning or resisting.Encouraging, because I'm reminded that I do have power to use on behalf of others, that there are many others using power in wise, creative ways, that as we use power to nurture others, the effects ripple out in waves of grace and generosity.Frustrated: I would love to see leaders in our churches, in our communities, in our government, in our families read this and discuss our uses and abuses of power. But while I can influence the small circles around me, the larger discussion of power I'd love to see is not likely to happen. Even so - read the book!

  • Dave
    2019-04-09 20:32

    In addition to just wanting to read this book on account of having appreciated Culture Making, I wanted to read this book in community. I used it for my staff retreat at the university where I work. My staff dug in deep and it resulted in a thoughtful and challenging discussion of the power we encounter and use at the university. I would highly recommend this book for anyone in positions of power. For everyone else, I highly recommend it, because you likely have much more power than you are aware.There's one paragraph toward the end of the book next to which I wrote a note: Could be a whole book of its own. It was a paragraph addressing some of the consequences of Andy's ideas about power for economies. Wish that would be drawn out more...perhaps in a next book?

  • Joel Wentz
    2019-04-02 00:50

    Andy Crouch has outdone himself. This is a stunning read, and he deftly tackles some of the most significant issues, not just in the church, but in human existence. The chapters on idolatry and injustice are remarkably revealing, and I found the way he defines concepts like "institutions" and "privilege" to be incredibly helpful (and convicting...). While weaving many seemingly-disconnected topics into a seamless whole is significant enough, he also manages to include interesting, and profoundly helpful, commentaries from various well-known scriptures. All the while, he fearlessly reworks the ways we conceive of and understand "power". These parts all come together to produce an important work, and one that should not be missed. Highly, highly recommended.

  • Naum
    2019-03-23 17:29

    A worthy read, not on the level of Crouch's previous *Culture Making* but still, very good. In the first half of the book, there was a number of sentences that made me grimace (one example was the cartoonish idioms lofted at Occupy and the false equivalencies employed -- it wasn't the only one, there were a number of others that I thought Crouch was straining and stretching to a deliver a neat tidy Gladwell-esque narrative) but overall, it is still a work that will make you think, ask questions, engage. I enjoyed the end chapters where Crouch examines Paul's letter to Philemon in relation to Christian view of slavery v. modern day approach to abortion and mandatory sentencing. That alone was worth the price of the book.

  • Joel Ohman
    2019-04-05 17:31

    Thought provoking insomuch that we tend to view power as necessarily bad - and yes, power can have a corrupting affect - but God also distributes power to us as a gift, and we can choose to steward that gift of power in God-honoring and world-bettering ways, or not. Refusing this gift, and all of the demands that power and influence can demand of us, might seem like a pious choice, but it's actually a shirking of the unique responsibility and gift that God has given each of us, in different ways, measures, and arenas. Use this gift of power, for God's glory and for the love of others, just don't let it use you...

  • Scott Wozniak
    2019-03-24 18:41

    He makes some good points: power is the ability to shape the world around you, including the shaping the thoughts of others. And that's not good or evil, only a force that can be applied to good or evil. In fact, it was God's primary command to Adam and Eve, to have power over the world. So God intended power for good. But multiple times the author went off on topics with an uncharacteristic narrow diatribe. Short-term mission trips are idolatrous god-playing, he says. Obama's election was the epitome of noble power, he says. I finished the book, but ended up being deeply disappointed by his regular slide into modern political preaching. It spoiled the book for me. :(

  • Jeff Bjorgan
    2019-04-07 23:27

    A very compelling argument for a redemptive view on power. Crouch explains the basics of power (he could have chose other words, like influence, or leadership, but felt power had, well more "power" to it, and spoke to our foundational desires), and suggests that there is room for a responsible display of power found in a proper way to flourish as human beings.Although it may not be apparent from the title, I would highly recommend this book as an introduction to discipleship, as it answers, quite profoundly, the question of, "how now shall we live?" Well written, accessible, a very thoughtful and persuasive book.

  • Tony
    2019-04-10 23:31

    This book was not what I expected but that's not a bad thing. His book is an excellent exploration of how we are to steward our God-given power as His image bearers. It explores how power is exploited through idolatry and injustice and points us to its redemption. I really enjoyed the where he talks about the disciplines of isolation, silence and fasting help us keep power in its proper place. While the content is excellent, his style is a bit dry for my taste. It starts and ends weak in my opinion, but the meat of the book is worth the price of admission.

  • Amy Becker
    2019-04-18 18:21

    I could have written a new blog post after each chapter of this excellent, convicting, encouraging, thought-provoking, well-written book. Click the following link to read the full review on my blog: God