Putting the Pieces Back Together by Mel Lawrenz

Lawrenz has written a nice book dealing with questions that most people ask while living in this fallen world. The book is developed in three sections, the first centered on questions. What do we do when our personal world falls apart, when we are overcome by sin, when life does not make sense? These questions are followed in section two and three with biblical answers. Lawrenz begins with God, giving in the second section solid theology concerning the providence, goodness and greatness of God. He moves on to discuss the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection of Christ.

In the final section he takes the questions from section one and the answers from section two and forms them into a workable theology for godly living in a sin-laced world. Addressed are things such as faith, revelation, peace, sanctification, the church, death and eternal life.

While Lawrenz handles well some heavy themes, he writes from a pastor’s heart. He is not weighing in on the deep apologetical, philosophical and theological issues surrounding his subject. Rather he is trying to help his readers, many of whom may be suffering, to have the tools they need to put the pieces of their shattered lives back together. In this attempt he does very well.

I found few things in the book to criticize. There was a smattering of questionable sources from which he quotes, G. K. Chesterton for example. There is a rather strange definition of prayer: “Prayers are an engaging conversation in which we wait to learn something we didn’t know before…” (p. 86). Most concerning was his defense of the idea that the kingdom has already come (pp. 185-192). While a number of theological positions accept similar views, I am perhaps overly sensitive to the misuse of the kingdom in the emerging church movement. I was all the more uncomfortable with Lawrenz’s view given that the lone endorsement on the jacket cover is by Leonard Sweet, one of the key emergent church leaders. However, I did not detect any real drift into emergent philosophy in Putting the Pieces Back Together.

Overall, an excellent resource, one that should be helpful to many. It even comes with a custom designed jigsaw puzzle piece for a bookmark—which I repeatedly misplaced.

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