The positives encourages you to study your Bible for yourself and not to trust someone else to do it for you Michael Shank really loves his wife her eyelashes must be something, he really likes them He is a happy man, who loves his church.Okay, now to the other stuff This is a minor point, but it bugged me and is part of what makes my Goodreads review a 1 By the 6th edition of a book with a cover price of 16, it is well past time to get an editor to look at it The typos and glaring errors are distracting Self published books sometimes have that problem, but 6 editions in, complete with revisions to take out barnyard swears you could get it straight if you re eating tiramisu or orange sherbet for desert sic That stuff makes it really hard to take seriously.If you re not familiar with KJV, pull another Bible alongside you in a modern translation Actually, pull a Bible alongside you anyway, because this is designed to scare you into the nearest conservative church of Christ, stat Note the little c, because they sure will For all of the encouragement to study your Bible for yourself, you d best come to the same conclusions you re being led to, or else you re not doing an honest reading of the Bible Pull out your Bible anyway Read at least the whole chapters of the verses he picks out Many times they re out of context You can be honest and disagree with it, despite his constant claims to the contrary This book is a church of Christ conversion story Mr Shank started out an ignorant Baptist who just went along with what felt good, and clearly hadn t cracked a Bible on his own He trusted his preacher because someone in his family influenced him to become Baptist He d said the sinner s prayer and then a few years later got baptized, and his friend Randall wanted to teach him why that didn t work The book shows how impressionable anyone can be who does not study for themselves, who reads the Bible one verse at a time, and who is scared to death of God s wrath Throughout the book, we get to read how idiotic or ridiculous or stupid all denominations are Yes, it uses those words, followed up with a I sure wasn t very Christian to say that half apology that never really rings true So yeah, expect to get angry reading it He s pretty nasty to those who don t agree with him Over and over, Mr Shank says, any honest reader could only come to one conclusion which is tantamount to calling anyone who disagrees with him a liar Many of the characterizations of the beliefs of these denominations are caricatures and misrepresentations of beliefs that the author doesn t seem to understand, anyway A lot of the book is arguing with straw men, so that s wasted paper I m not going to go one at a time with all the issues I have with the theology and beliefs presented in this book, though there are many The Command Example Necessary Inference Silence of Scriptures aka CENI S model of reading the Bible is inherently problematic, illogical, and unworkable It is applied inconsistently, and creates confusion and division It ignores a lot of the important messages of freedom and love that are at the heart of a Jesus follower s directives It s legalistic, but worse than that, it misses so much of the point Love and grace are silent characters in this book There s lots of fear, but perfect love drives that out, doesn t it Michael Shank is either incredibly ignorant or totally deceptive This book reminds me of Nazi propaganda it s only missing pictures of the deformities and birth defects of the offspring of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, non denoms, etc Horrible Shank preys on the ignorance of his readers , both historical and biblical ignorance He simply continues to parrot everything that is constantly parroted by Church of Christ denomination members I had to force myself past every page Blatantly missing is Love God is Love and, therefore, sadly God is not to be found in this book There, I read it Grandma Moving on. Th Edition Includes All Volume Content, Randall S Secret, Epilogue, KJV Full Index, Bibliography Muscle And A Shovel Is A Raw And Gritty True Story About A Pair Of Young Newly Weds Who Move To The City To Chase The American Dream In The Process They Re Befriended By A Man Who Turns Their Belief About God, Their Church, And Their Faith Upside Down Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, The Community Churches None Are Spared When Truth Is At Stake And Their New Friend Randall Isn T About To Candy Coat God S Word For The Sake Of Political Correctness Or Religious Tolerance This Story Will Grip You From Opening To Close And Will Stimulate Your Spirit On Levels You Didn T Think Possible Get Ready To Fight Or Flee Because Muscle And A Shovel Is One Of Those Rare Books That Will Raise Your Heart Rate And Your Blood Pressure You Won T Want To Wait To Share It With Your Friends Or You Ll Want To Dowse It In Gasoline And Set On Fire There Ll Be No Middle Ground Many Christian Reviewers Have Said, This Book Will Turn Our Current Religious World Upside Down I probably would have liked this book quite a bit better if they had let me edit it before it was published The constant need to add commas and adjust awkward phrases got old very quickly. This is a great book Everyone should read it It is simple to read and takes you to the Bible for what it truly means to be a Christian Very enlightening. I ve grown up in the church of Christ Yet, even I was cutting off the end of the ham This book helped show me why we do some things that I ve never thought twice about And while there are a few things I don t agree with 100%, I can see why some people believe that now based on the scripture provided I love that everything is backed up with scripture I just wish it wasn t King James Version as I ve always struggled to understand it If you are curious as to why the church of Christ practices certain things, this book does a great job of showing why. Have you always wondered why certain things you hear from the Sunday morning pulpit don t always match up when you read your Bible This book is about several characters, all of whom are looking for change in their life They don t all understand why or how at first, but eventually it all comes to light Randall is such a caring individual He is always cheery and helpful no matter what his lot in life is He is someone most people either naturally gravitate towards or completely ignore I need Randall s in my life He shares something most precious to others he works with and the outcome may surprise you Christianity takes a lot of muscle, and sometimes the shovel, but in the end, it will be well worth it I don t want to give much of this book away because it s one that, once you start it, you won t be able to put it down I highly recommend this book for EVERYONE and I hope you take some time to read it I first want to address the form of the book Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank that I purchased It is an e book Kindle and the 5th edition I purchased it for 9.99 It was strewn with typographical errors and poor grammar, had no table of contents or means by which to jump to chapters there are 40, plus the following sections introduction, epilogue, end notes, bibliography, and Bible verses used in each chapter , no links to end notes from where noted within the chapters, and missing end notes I repeat this is the 5th edition since its initial publication in 2011 Five editions in three years, and it s still in this condition Without having yet mentioned anything about the actual content, this is enough to see little care has been taken in editing and likely speaks to the quality of the work itself It does.My reason for purchasing the book is simple I was asked to read it in its entirety no matter how I felt along the way, to take notes, and to then offer my thoughts concerning its potential use in someone s outreach ministry I was asked to not read anything about the book no abstracts, reviews, etc beforehand in order that I might approach it without any preconceived notions or bias, at as little as can be expected So, that s what I did or didn t, as the case may be This is, however, a book review and not the place for me to express all my thoughts concerning the task I was given, though I will make a few notes to caution those who would consider reading it.As a book, it appears to be a strange and disjointed, autobiographical narrative that preaches at the reader in an attempt to convince them to read the Bible in a way rather specific to a particular end of the spectrum within the Church of Christ denomination It is about Michael Shank s conversion from the Baptist to Church of Christ denomination I found much of storytelling of daily life events to be mundane and distracting from the larger context of the book Not only were they simply not written well, they often did not make much sense wherein they were placed The text is unnecessarily long, and cutting much of this storytelling would make it much tolerable.However, there is still the issue of the way in which the reader is being preached to There is constant repetition of the same Bible verses, and they are always typed out in their entirety every time I understand in a book that is intended to teach the desire to print in full Scripture references, but not every time, least of all the same ones This could be trimmed and save a lot of room, again making the book a bit tolerable Using the King James Version of the Bible for everything is also not very helpful Of course, it is still used by many churches who consider it to be the authorized version, which simply shows a lack on understanding the history behind that phrase and the number of errors found within the text Someone reading the book along with me needed, on numerous occasions, to go to another translation simply to understand what was being said There is great history and tradition behind the KJV, but it is horribly outdated and ought not be used by most for Bible study today, especially if they are new to Scripture.The author belittles people he s trying to reach and uses examples and exaggerations that make it appear as if all people within a particular denomination are exactly the same as that which is poorly described Do they exist Yes, just as they do within the author s own denomination However, saying someone is an idiot or needs psychiatric help, for example, simply because they do not read a verse the same way usually because they disagree on how it is to be read based on preconceived notions of biblical interpretation handed down to them, just as with those in the Church of Christ is self defeating, especially when trying to convert the very people being insulted Though the book attempts to refute that assertion, the point is made therein We the Church of Christ denomination are the only ones who read the Bible correctly, we are the only ones who know the truth of Scripture, and everyone else is going to hell, even though we state the we do not make that judgment call because God is the final judge but if you read and present the Bible like we do, it is the obvious conclusion For these reasons, and so much , I would not recommend Muscle and a Shovel to anyone as a good read In fact, it s quite poor.Now, since I ve likely offended many in my Church of Christ tradition by saying these things, especially by calling it a denomination, I feel I must mention a few things I normally would not include in a book review.The author notes how a few denominations came to be and why they are wrong but fails to properly address his own history The Church of Christ yes, big C is not the only church of Christ little c as many purport It is a branch within the history of Christianity and stems from men just as every other denomination comes from those who have influenced a particular direction or way of reading Scripture In my opinion, there are two major blinding factors to those within the Church of Christ not understanding themselves as a denomination 1 they simply redefine the word denomination in such a way that they intentionally exclude themselves, and 2 they are woefully aware of their own history Note There are many who do not fall within the ignorance described here and remain within this particular tradition for numerous reasons, which I admire In my own experience, I have been pushed away and described as an apostate and heretic for disagreeing with my tradition in its general narrowness of scriptural interpretation and exclusivity, and currently find myself living in an area that needs much than the tiny 20 people , local 20 minutes away by car Church of Christ is teaching and offering nothing and have partnered with other Christian leaders in the area and lead a congregation in my home I still don t agree with denominationalism, which is why I do not fully associate myself with one the Church of Christ , but I work with those therein and am still thankful for the good that has come from my Church of Christ heritage In fact, when I m visiting family and traveling, I still take my family to a Church of Christ First, a denomination does not necessitate a central organization or governing body, but the Church of Christ has enough of a connection through hermeneutics, language, teachings, preachers, schools, and publications to be understood as having an unspoken though loudly spoken central governance that stipulates who is and isn t in to fall within their own definition of denomination They also have churches that fall within a wide spectrum, wherein not all believe the others are in usually the conservative, the exclusive , just as is the case with many other denominations Though they often claim that church of Christ is merely a descriptor and have concocted a theological doctrine by which it is a necessary descriptor, they certainly function as the Church of Christ, a denomination with a specific label Note The Church of Christ is not a cult, as some still purport, though it is generally so narrow in its approach to Scripture and other people that they alienate others who consider themselves to be and are in the church of Christ, or any of the other names used for the people of God in Scripture that are numerous than this single reference in Romans 16 16 Many are simply offended by the hijacking of this particular label by one denomination to the exclusion of all others from being associated therewith Second, the Church of Christ came about as the result of Stone, the Campbells, and others desiring to get away from denominationalism and focus on unity in Christ and an emphasis on the written Word of God the Bible As with most denominations, the men by whom they were founded or not did not intend them to be so, and they often spoke against it However, just as with the Church of Christ, the further people were separated in time from these men the they wanted to set up a particular system based upon their teachings or twisted versions thereof.The beginnings of the American Restoration Movement, of which the Church of Christ was a part, were by men who disagreed on much but agreed on Jesus, the Son of God, and a desire to get back to a New Testament example of living as the body of Christ They disagreed on what the Church of Christ now considers to be salvation issues names, labels, baptism, and the entity and function of the Holy Spirit, just to name a few , but they believed in unity in Christ and worked together to further the Kingdom of God, even in using different names and descriptors of the church but considering one another brothers and sisters or sister congregations, as they are commonly known This is the kind of unity for which many of us still strive, and it saddens me that many within the Church of Christ are not even aware of this part of their heritage and are actually opposed to it However, this is what the author of Muscle and a Shovel speaks against As a major debate in the history of the splitting of the Churches of Christ concluded on one end, it s all right good, of God or it s all wrong evil, of Satan This has been the trajectory for the Churches of Christ for some time, but many have begun to break away from this lie and are much willing to listen to and journey with other believers in order that we may all become better disciples of Christ another descriptor that turned into a denominational name Disciples of Christ within the American Restoration Movement and the other label used in its founding by Stone and Campbell.Michael Shank uses the often expressed hermeneutic of speaking where the Bible speaks, and staying silent where the Bible is silent by way of looking at the New Testament through commands, examples, and necessary inferences, but fails, as many do, to show in the Bible where these hermeneutics may be found about how to interpret itself Why This is what has been handed down through tradition but is understood to be the way the most logical and right in which Scripture must be interpreted This hermeneutic defies itself, but it is unquestioned Therefore, though I may fully agree with some of what is expressed in his book, I cannot must not agree with the way in which much of it concluded, especially when several issues addressed the use of instruments, the plausibility of miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, et al are approached in ways I find to be out of context a phrase often used in the book and the side on which someone lands on these issues issues to many within the Church of Christ is used to condemn someone.As an example of consistency, I present the often used passage of Ephesians 5 19 that is used to say using an instrument in worship to God is evil Those within the Church of Christ who hold to these narrow hermeneutics and expressions thereof must, out of necessity and fear of condemnation, sing with their heart not vocal chords because that s what Paul says, and it must be done in unison melody without harmony The Eastern Orthodox tradition continues to sing in unison for many reasons, but the basic ancient tradition thereof and its means of maintaining unity are two big ones If the Church of Christ is going to call upon history to express a split in the church over the use of instruments, it must also contend with an even earlier split by way of the introduction of a single voice of harmony The four part or harmony the Church of Christ so adores and finds so beautiful how is that any less emotional and entertaining than the way others describe the use of instruments is evidence of an expression of division in history that it claims as evidence for not causing division and being right with Scripture It is utterly inconsistent, and that is an issue that must be addressed I absolutely love a cappella singing that s still music, by the way, brother Michael , and it s how we often sing in my church however, I cannot make it an issue that it is not because the issue comes by way of faulty logic and hermeneutics Muscle and a Shovel uses a lot of basic logic jargon.There are a plethora of things I feel must be addressed within Muscle and a Shovel by anyone reading it or desiring to use it for outreach, but I hope what I have written here has demonstrated my reasons for dissuading others from reading and using it There are plenty of other resources out there for the good found within Muscle and a Shovel that I would recommend rather than have someone read this unnecessarily lengthy and frustrating book that would require a lot of hand holding, explaining, and correcting along the way I actually find the book to be dangerous to the spiritual growth of others in their relationship with other believers In the language of the KJV, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself Matthew 22 39 Though I do believe it was the author s intent, I do not find this book to demonstrate love.Thanks be to God for his grace and mercy as we continue to search out His truth and live unified in His Kingdom Forgive us of our ignorance and infighting as we strive to love you and one another God bless us, every one. Excellent book It will make you think about every aspect of your spiritual life I will warn you though, it could challenge your entire belief system If so, don t put the book down, instead try and prove it wrong through study of the scripture You will find that very hard to do. This is the best book I have ever read This is a true story It is a book about a man s journey to become a Christian, the difference in teachings and which church is right for you It can make you angry at times but keep reading and if there is something you do not agree with find the answer in the bible and prove you are right, then notify Mr Shank He welcomes it I guarantee, if you read the entire book you will learn something whether a Christian or not I know I did and I have been a Christian for than forty years This is a must read.
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- 418 pages
- Muscle and a Shovel
- Michael J. Shank
- 09 May 2017 Michael J. Shank