searching for God knows what by donald miller

Originally published in 2004, Donald Miller’s Searching For God Knows What had a profound impact on me the first two times that I read it. Using his humorous and authentic style, Miller challenges the reader to break free from reading the Bible as a formulaic text, one that offers set propositions on how we are to live, and view it rather as a an invitation to know and be known by a loving God. He argues that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve felt wholly loved and affirmed by God, but as a result of the Fall, humankind is now trapped in a cycle of looking elsewhere to regain a sense of our intrinsic value and self-worth. In the midst of our search for all the right formulas, tools and steps to be made right with God, and as we seek to fill that gap that exists within us at the expense of others, Jesus came onto the scene and “disrupted the system by which people were gaining their false redemption“, inviting all those who truly with to follow him to give everything up and enter into a relationship with Him. Following Jesus, therefore, is less about the acceptance of a series of ideas and more about a sincere engagement in relationship with He who offered Himself up on our behalf. Based on all of this, I can’t help but once again appreciate Miller’s approach to faith and scripture, one that embraces the beautiful mystery of the risen Christ and that deep love that He has for this world.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder why this book has been re-released after only six years in print. This so-called expanded edition contains a new introduction, a personality theory based on the book of Genesis [basically already outlined in the book itself], and “a game in the book with clues, anagrams, and codes that unlock prizes and secret content,” and also features an updated cover. Really? That’s it? I feel as though if the effort was going to be made to release a fresh edition of this book, it might have benefited from a true update, such as the use of more inclusive language and an attempt to engage the reader in the ‘so what?’ question of Miller’s central message of breaking out of the formulas and accepting God’s relationship-based invitation offered to us through Christ: how should the church be shaped by this new outlook, and how are we to live in relation to accepting that invitation?

At the end of the day, this book trends towards a discussion of one’s personal faith, and it seems to me that in 2010, we’re moving beyond that and engaging in more of a communal outlook in regards to what it means to follow Jesus; a true update might have benefited by taking that into account. While the book certainly points to the need to break out of and transform the social economy within which we live, a true expanded edition could have offered up a new chapter on how we enter deeper into this relationship with Christ through engaging in the lives of others, especially within the context of this fast-paced, technologically-based, social-network-heavy society in which we currently live.

Overall, I would say it’s still a great book and definitely worth a read. I’m just not sure a new edition was really necessary unless something new was being offered up.

If you have not yet read this book, I am more than willing to send you a copy. All you have to do is answer the following question:

Name one author that has greatly influenced you, and give a brief explanation in regards to the impact that their writings have had on your life.

Also, I would highly recommend that you read Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which wrestles with that which might be lacking in this book.

*Note: This book was provided free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program.

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