Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Book review: The Last Men's Book You'll Ever Need, by David Moore

The Last Men's Book You'll Ever Need, by David Moore
(2008: B & H Publishing Group; 205pp)

When I first saw a mention of this book on Justin's blog, I was very interested. Shortly after, I got a review copy, which cycled up to the top of my list, and now it's done. Here are my thoughts:

The author. David Moore is founder and president of Two Cities Ministries. The web site doesn't make clear (to me) what that is, so I asked Moore, with whom I've enjoyed a friendly email correspondence. Moore has a ministry of training, guiding, educating, and tutoring executives.

Moore himself has a distinguished educational background including Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He comes across both in correspondence and in the book as an affable, warm "real" brother.

The good. I was struck right off and often by the deep and broad scope of resources Moore smoothly brings into play. In a painless, unobtrusive way, the reader shakes hands with the likes of Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, at least four big Johns (Calvin, Bunyan, Owen, and Piper; five, if you count -athan Edwards), Augustine, Blaise Pascal, David Wells, and others. He also branches out into other ideological territories, citing also Dallas Willard, Henri Nouwen/Philip Yancey, Aldous Huxley, Winston Churchill, and more.

One might quibble that Moore doesn't warn readers explicitly enough of the heterodox writers. However, he makes a plain point for the selection of good classics, and for doing solid reading. He says, for instance, that "A book like The Pilgrim's Progress is worth hundreds of lesser books" (62).

More than that, I appreciated how Moore kept bringing what he was saying back to Jesus Christ and God's Word. Nor did he employ either for mere pep talks nor motivation, and he's openly disdainful of cookie-cutter formulas for success.

Moore starts out stressing that all of us are different, unique individuals. And then in short measure Moore exposes the idol-factories of our hearts, and the reality and dire nature of sin. He insists on the importance of study, learning, growth; attacking sin, seeking after Christ. Moore writes:
It concerns me that there is a growing trend toward offering specific "how tos" without an adequate emphasis on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Simply giving mental assent to the importance of Jesus, as John Piper reminds us, is not something God takes lightly. Neither, may I add, is it adequate to mature us spiritually (79)
Christ must have central place in, over, above and through everything in our lives, Moore concludes (82-85).

Moore warns against worldliness, materialistic hedonism, self-centeredness, and laziness. He urges his readers to get a passion for God, do something with their lives in view of eternity, get involved with others, and build relationships for accountability.

All this is done in a very conversational, light, flowing style. It is — and I mean this positively — a bit like reading from Reader's Digest, in this way: you read a while, and are surprised to find you just put away several chapters.

The middling. Moore's method of citation took some getting-used-to. He quotes (say) John Piper, with no foot/end-note... but at the end of the chapter, citation is provided. Too often for my liking, he'll say something like "a wise man wrote," and then I have to remember, or turn right to the end, to find out who the wise man was. My view on this is well-known by now: just use footnotes, or in-text citation.

This may be deliberate, but I had trouble following the structure of the book. Chapters end with "Discuss and Apply," but sometimes this section simply seems to continue the content of the chapter. Sometimes not. It was more like listening to a good brother chat, than seeing a structured unfolding or building of a case. That may have been deliberate; if so, it didn't work with me, in that it didn't leave me with a well-structured takeaway.

The bad. I really wanted to like this book without qualification. I was looking forward to it — because of the title, and because Moore himself impressed me positively.

But honesty compels me to say I was disappointed. I think the choice of title served Moore poorly. Though the title is The Last Men's Book You'll Ever Need, and though the subtitle is "What the Bible says about guy stuff," hear Moore himself from page 1:
Men are odd creatures. That's not to say women aren't, but this is a book for men. Women should feel free to read it. In fact, most of this book easily applies to either sex. I, being of the masculine type, write with men in view. At the very least, women ought to read this book to have more awareness of the sorry excuses we men sometimes give. [Then he says the title is tongue-in-cheek, and he hopes to direct men from faddish books to more solid reading.]
Well now I have to say that, if most of it applies equally to women, it surely isn't what I expected. Regardless of any cheeked tongue, the title really had me hoping to read a Biblical, down-to-earth, earnest man-to-man treatment of issues related to being a man of God in 21st century America. That's what I wanted to read. I was wanting to be able to recommend it to the Men's Fellowship group I lead.

The title gives me that expectation; then page 1 tells me, "Sorry, not so much."

And this page-one statement of Moore's is accurate. Most of the book is sexually non-specific. It's about Christian living. There's some talk of loving your wife... but not much else is specific to men.

That is in no way to say it isn't a book worth reading, nor that I'm sorry I read it. I just think Moore would have been better served if someone had said, "Dave, this really isn't that male-centered. Let's add a chapter to women, re-focus just a little, and then let's call it Straight Talk on Christian Growth."

So who is it for? I think you could give this to a Christian friend who hasn't Hebrews 5:11-14'ed himself up to where he can wade through real heavyweights. Not everyone's ready for Owen or Calvin, or even for Piper. Give it to a guy, or give it to a lady, and just tell her the title's a bit off.

It will point them to Christ, and to substantial and edgy Biblical truths and passages, and to great writers, and it will do it in a winsome, accessible, conversational way. It will be a light read, but may be used by God to move the friend to ask you, "So, who's this Piper guy he talks about? Or that Spurgeon cat? He says Pilgrim's Progress is great — have you ever read that?"

There's no bad in that.

1 comment:

Ron B. said...


I appreciate your review. I too had seen it on JT's site, but had not given it much thought since.
Your review offers more "solid food" for those like me that hate having book buyers regret.
Now where is your Amazon link, or do I have to go back to JT?