Book Review

"Mindscape: What to Think About Instead of Worrying" by Timothy Z. Witmer

Shane Lems
Timothy Z. Witmer
Friday, May 1st 2015
May/Jun 2015

There are quite a few things in the world today that cause Christians to worry. For example, anxiety levels grow when we think about problems concerning health, finances, political issues, and family hardships.

In Mindscape, Timothy Witmer tackles the issue of worry with practical and comforting truths from Scripture. Witmer explains and applies core truths of Scripture like the sovereignty, truth, grace, and love of God, the beauty of the gospel, and the help of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. One of his main points is that Christians need to think about how they think about life issues. In other words, we should consider our "mindscape," that is, the thoughts that occupy our minds. By God's grace, and as the Spirit works in us, we should experience a new mindscape, "a gradual progression and transformation in the way we think. … [And] when there is a change in the way we think, there will be a definite change in our words and actions as well" (11-12). This is not the power of positive thinking, but the power of God in sanctification.

Using Paul's exhortation in Philippians 4:8 to think about such things, Witmer gives biblical guidance on our thought patterns. After two introductory chapters, chapters 3 through 10 discuss Paul's list of whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy‘that we should think about such things. The structure of each chapter is similar: first, he explains the meaning of each word/concept in Philippians 4:8; second, Witmer gives other biblical examples of each word/concept; and third, he frequently applies these truths positively (think this way) and negatively (don't think this way) to the topic of worry.

There aren't many weaknesses to point out in this book; it is solid biblically and practically. However, a few times I couldn't see how Witmer's discussion directly tied into the topic of worry. For example, his chapter on "Whatever Is Admirable" doesn't fully explain how thinking about something admirable would kill worry. There were also times when I thought the book could be a bit more organized; in several places I lost the flow of the theme since the discussion moves away from the topic of worry (for example, his explanation of purity). These aren't major critiques, but they did come to mind as I was reflecting on this book.

Mindscape is a resource that will be a blessing for Christians who struggle with worry and anxiety. It is easy to read and applicable; it also constantly reminds the reader of God's grace and the gospel. I recommend this book for personal reading. Come to think of it, it's probably a book you'll read more than once, since it has some good details that a second read would help reinforce. I also recommend this book for a group study, since there are a few application questions at the end of each chapter. As Jesus said, we should love God with our minds (Matt. 22:37). This book will help the Christian do just that’to the glory of God!

Friday, May 1st 2015

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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