Book Review: Life of the Beloved

by Jonathan Bailey


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Life of the Beloved
Henri Nouwen 

Henri Nouwen is one of those authors, who is more than just an author. He is down-to-earth, practical and wise. in the last decade of his life he lived on campus and aided a group of mentally handicapped people. There he served those people who could not dress, bathe, eat, or speak. I really respect his willingness to serve. I imagine I have a lot to learn from someone like him. So, with all of his experience and service I have found it a good idea to read Nouwen every couple of months. Zach Silvers let me borrow ‘Life of the Beloved’ and so I say a special thanks to him.

Life of the beloved is written to a secular audience to enable them to understand the love of God. It has some great practical exercises for those looking for better ways of coming to terms with being beloved by God. Some things I enjoyed were his sincere effort to relate to his friend Fred who was a secular journalist. His motives were good, however I didn’t think he stayed true to explaining and teaching Jesus and letting the chips fall where they may.

Also, there was a lot therapy/psychology in the book it seemed to me. Obviously therapy and psychology are good things I just don’t think we should mix it with Jesus and the New Testament. In Nouwen’s defense he is coming from a context of immense therapy in the community he lived in, so it seems natural to him to let the good that has come from it, filter into his message of being the beloved of God.

I would recommend the book to people who need a dose of love and practicality, with a few warnings. Mainly some of his ideas about human nature seem to me unbiblical. So watch out there. If you read it you will see what I mean. Overall I like Nouwen and have been helped by his writing.