Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: IVP Books (March 11, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7 inches
Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #36,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #39 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Churches & Church Leadership > Church Leadership #276 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Christian Living > Self Help #767 in Books > Self-Help > Motivational
“Two questions haunt every human life and every human community,” writes Andy Crouch. “The first: What are we meant to be? The second: Why are we so far from what we’re meant to be?” Strong and Weak offers an answer to that question which focuses on “the paradox of flourishing,” the necessity of pursuing “greater authority and greater vulnerability at the same time.”Crouch defines authority as “the capacity for meaningful action” and vulnerability as “exposure to meaningful risk.” Most people—including many Christians—view authority and vulnerability in either/or terms. To the degree that we exercise authority, we insulate ourselves from meaningful risk. To the degree that we experience vulnerability, we lack capacity to take meaningful action. Given the choice between being a millionaire and a homeless person, who in their right mind would choose the latter?This choice is a false one, however. Without vulnerability, authority becomes exploitative. Indeed, Crouch argues that “the real root of the problem,” the answer to the question of why we are so far from what we’re meant to be, is “the quest for authority without vulnerability.” Without authority, on the other hand, the capacity for meaningful action, vulnerability reduces simply to suffering. The real choice we face is whether to withdraw from lives of meaningful action and risk or to embrace them both. Authority and vulnerability together lead to flourishing, “the life that really is life” (1 Timothy 6:19). “No human being ever embodied flourishing more than Jesus of Nazareth,” Crouch writes. “And precisely for this reason, no other life brings the paradox of flourishing so clear into focus.” Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.
I have read and appreciated both of Andy Crouch's recent books. Culture Making made the case for why we as Christians need to be creative and speak into culture. Playing God made the case for the real existence of relational power and how it should be properly used.Strong and Weak seems like a natural follow up to Playing God. Once you have the idea that power actually exists and that as Christians we have a responsibility to use it well, then you have to understand how to actually lead, regardless of whether that leadership is of a large organization or your own life.The basic concept of the book is simple. Crouch has a two by two grid (you can see the grid in the book preview). High authority and high vulnerability (or risk) leads to flourishing. High authority with low vulnerability leads to exploiting others. Low authority with low vulnerability leads to withdrawing from relationships (and the world). And the final of the four options is low authority and high vulnerability, which leads to suffering.A simple grid like this works well for illustration. And there is a chapter on each of these four areas. Simple illustrations are memorable and bring insight into a complex world. Some simple illustrations reduce complexity by distorting reality. But I think this, while there can be real quibbles, does point to a real truth. And in the context of a fully fleshed out book, Crouch brings enough nuance to the illustration that is really is helpful.The final three chapters are about how to encourage a flourishing life and what authority and vulnerability do and do not mean. This is the second new book this year that I have read that is based around the idea of flourishing. I have read some negative comments about the idea of flourishing.
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