Book Review -- Untamed by Lisa Harper

"Jesus confronted confusion, oppression, dishonesty, and spiritual deadness because He cares so much about us and isn't willing to let us settle for anything less than the abundant life and absolute freedom God created for us to enjoy," so Lisa Harper emphatically states in the eighth chapter of Untamed, entitled "The Divine Trait of Stepping on Toes." 
It is bold statements like this that cause you to sit up and take notice as Harper one by one debunks the myth of the milquetoast Jesus that plagues our world today.  In chapters with titles like "Rough, Tough, and Ready to Rumble," "Simply Irresistible," and "The God Who Leaves Men Gaping," Harper systematically challenges wrong perceptions of Christ and offers scriptural proof that we serve a God who is wildly untamed.
Harper weaves a mixture of anecdotes from her own life (growing up in a divorced home, being a victim of childhood molestation, and being reared under chauvanistic teaching,) with Bible stories and passages to help readers identify with each characteristic of Christ that she unveils.  She weaves in powerful quotes from respected Bible teachers and preachers and word studies that reference Greek and Hebrew. She concludes each chapter with discussion questions & scripture passages for further study.
Untamed's strength is in the characteristics Harper chooses to focus on -- those characteristics of Christ that we desperately need to understand and experience in order to "live and love with abandon."  At times I found myself tempted to cheer out loud as Harper championed our Savior as wildly pro-women, wildly confrontational, and wildly redemptive.  Other times I was moved to tears when she reminded me that Christ is wildly devoted and wildly attentive. 
There is only one component of this book that I wish were different.  Harper is a well-educated and articulate theologian, and by no means is this a shallow, fluffy Bible study book. 
Unfortunately, Harper occasionally tries too hard to make her Bible stories contemporary.  For example, the otherwise strong second chapter describes Mary's discovery that they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem after the Passover.  "As soon as she got to the Holy City, she pulled Jesus's middle school picture -- the one that showed His cowlick and braces -- out of her wallet and began asking everyone if they'd seen Him.  She. . .knocked on doors,retraced their steps, and put fliers on windshields."  While I understand the literary attempt at connection, it comes across as over the top, distracting, and slightly irreverent.  Though tempted to discard the book after several similar passages, I am very glad I persisted to the end.  Harper seemed to have gotten that style out of her system and settles into a thoughtful, reverent, yet very contemporarily relevant book.
Untamed is appropriate for Sunday school, women's Bible studies, or as a small group or personal study.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

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