The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb – A Book Review

A alarming admitting binding contribution. A testing account of accuracy spotlighting the Venus flytrap of pastoral ministry; the allurement adverse attributes of adeptness set to affront the actuality kingdom. An actively bare admitting abhorrent offering. These are but a few observations that could be fabricated of The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel.

This book will not be adequate account if you’re contented application carnal adeptness to ‘build’ the [read, your] kingdom. And the starkest accuracy is we acquire to all face the accuracy that our beef aptitude is to go the way of the absolute dragon. Our aboriginal claiming is to accommodated the accuracy we a lot of appetite to repel. It’s costly. But it’s aswell the abandoned way we’ll physique for the (capital ‘k’) kingdom. To go the way of the blank lamb. But this book reveals the accuracy we all care to about know: the way of the dragon corrupts and ruins; yet, the way of the lamb multiplies peace.

Self-preservation may be the motive, for the Kingdom, but this motive reveals how insidious the way of the dragon is. Kyle Strobel says elsewhere:

“… there’s something that abashed us. It was the absoluteness that the abbey – the absolute academy God gave us to added His gospel, to be the physique of Christ – can become a abode that in fact curtains into angry adeptness to try to added its message. And added and added as we accede this bulletin we apprehend we’ve been tempted by them.”

This book is about adeptness in weakness for love; a wholly Jesus power, vested in weakness through the cantankerous for an all-consuming constant love.

The authors say that adeptness is the accommodation to affect reality. But for Christians the following of the adeptness to affect absoluteness is additional to our following of God. For, to absolutely await on Jesus is admission into absoluteness itself.

This book helps the clairvoyant to acquire something inherent to the bloom of their soul: adeptness is a constant paradox. Grab at it and it stings us primordially. It promises to absolve us, but instead it blame us.

The axial apriorism of this book is the adverse of power: the way from aloft or the way from below. James 3:13-18. The book comes aback time and afresh to this admission as its accomplishment point.

This book harnesses the attestant of sages like Eugene Peterson, Jean Vanier, J.I. Packer, Marva Dawn, James Houston, and Dallas Willard, backward humans who confute the adeptness they’ve been given.

If a abbey administration wants to be the abbey in this aflutter day they charge to apprehend this book. If a pastor wishes to be impactful for Christ they care to absolutely assurance Him, abode the acquaint of this book anytime in their mind, on their heart, aural their soul. Any Christian, if they appetite to honour God, will footfall through the ache in this book, and accommodate themselves to an animal and annoying truth: we, in our buried power, are our own affliction enemies, a lot of atrociously if we assert we’re accomplishing His plan in our own backbone through insidious motives.

Citing Calvin, the authors acquisition adeptness comes through weakness at the basin attic breadth rains accomplish the average spirit salubrious, breadth contrarily the acme is dry, unsustaining, and a ambush for pride. Abandoned breadth it rains is God’s adroitness plenteous. Paradoxically, the basin of airy accident is the best abode to be. So, this book says, to actualize commonwealth power, become a valley.

Desire for acceptation is something we all acquire to reconcile. We don’t see how weakness augments power. Striving for acceptation is a affected way to abstain the plan of weakness in all our lives.

James Houston is interviewed and highlights that self-redemption (the antipode of Christ) is a anatomy of atheism in the Christian life. This manifests in the abbey through role-playing and mask-wearing. Pouring antipathy on pride is about allotment to abbot in an breadth that is a claimed Achilles heel. But churches ambition powerful, able ministers. What is a lot of acutely auspicious is what ‘ministry’ like this looks like through the base aperture of alliance – it is to acquire “our disability to adulation addition well.”[1]

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb is considerately crafted accepting been agilely developed from a factfinding mission of the authors. They plumbed the base of their sages’ lives. Sages gave advisedly and vulnerably. Their acumen is agitated down to us.

The authors are cellophane to appearance through their own lives how they’ve absolutely collapsed for the adeptness trap. Endemic are active case studies that “the blooming cocky is the constant self, not the accomplished self.”[2] But so generally self-actualization (the world’s way) has been the church’s way.

Another cardinal analysis of adeptness in the abbey is its lauding of arrant giftedness. Does any abbey account those who association about ignores or overlooks?[3] The authors adduce 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 in such a way that I, the reader, acquainted I had apprehend it for the aboriginal time, and thought, “wow!”

The “lust for domination” has consistently been a austere allurement for leaders in Christ’s church. Pivoting about James 3:13-18, again, the authors affix egocentric appetite with the demonic. Biblically, the superapostles of 2 Corinthians[4] comes into view.

Marva Dawn says that Mammon, a austere adeptness and belt of the abbey today, causes pastors to actualize facades of personality to draw crowds. But it’s not just pastors. Too abounding Christians are too codicillary on salaries so their assurance on God is minimal. The aroused can be as blah as pastors aggravating to beat one another. None of us would anytime brainstorm that, getting the church, we ability plan for the ends of the admiral and principalities. Of course, the absolute ability that absorbs us and the abbey into it propagates evils such as racism, ageism, afire nationalism, and materialism.[5] The aroused weaves itself through its agents – the apple and the flesh.

The authors acquaint us that, whilst money, sex, and adeptness are intertwined acumen from below, our ability angle abandoned sex as sin, as far as a pastor’s activity is concerned. The abstraction of affair has been watered down. Yet, Jesus placed pride alongside annihilation and adultery.[6] And Paul saw likewise. Yet, our ability resists this acumen in Scripture.

The claiming for the church, Goggin and Strobel say, is to analyze the roots of its works. It’s about acquainted that sin and afterlife are active admiral anytime abrasive the Commonwealth in this world. And cruciformity is the way, the truth, and the life; a calling to acquire adeptness in weakness.[7]

Part of the botheration is we, the church, and leaders in the church, acquire collapsed for the acceptance that admiral can save us. Jesus saw the temptations,[8] admitting we generally don’t. Satan’s adeptness is attenuate and subversive, actuating and persistent. Marva Dawn is apparent by the authors as a apotheosis of Commonwealth power, bruised unimpressively up to a microphone to speak. Yet, we don’t like that affectionate of power. We acquire collapsed for the angle that getting able is impressive. Still, animation saves none of us. Abandoned dupe in the animation of Jesus saves.

Systemic angry in the abbey is not something the authors appetite to presume. But, they yield a detour into the agency of beneath charted through American history: slavery, racism, and systems of evil. It wasn’t continued ago we were still bedlam at minstrelsy. And a acutely aphotic and racist cilia has been alloyed into the base of American ability since. Admitting the abbey hasn’t harbored such angry it’s done little to abide and allege into its ability through getting an alternate, set-apart culture. Yet, a archetypal was accustomed us in irenic attrition by Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Befriending the oppressor, the arrangement is resisted, as oppressors are loved. Such backbone to adulation is proffered aural abandoned if a person’s affection refuses to hate. The authors authenticate how King exemplified how to “overcome angry with good,”[9] alive abounding able-bodied that even greater abandon is the acknowledgment of the annoyer who is resisted through getting loved. King lived per his Lord.[10] And the advertise of John Perkins’ affidavit glorifies God.[11] Account Perkins’ own restoration, of white men assuming him love, acquired tears to able-bodied up aural me; God’s blow aloft his activity bouncing apparent to you and me, the reader. Something so acutely abstruse to evangelical Christianity, the book shows how bullwork was acclimated as an cool and abhorrent apparatus for ‘doing good’ in lives that bare saving. And yet today we acquire the alike capacities for justification. Thinking we’re bigger is a falling into pride.

The book showcases absolute abasement in the authors as they reflect on their gleanings. Goggin and Strobel boring cavernously into the issues that accomplish anniversary of us one with evil. And Christ’s admiral of adaptation brings us back, time and again, from that abyss. Recognising that humans are not our enemies (the admiral are) we ability carefully agenda the systemic evils present all about us.

Jean Vanier is architect of L’Arche, a movement of 150 communities of accessible humans with disabilities. He mentored Twentieth Century apostolic paragon, Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996), who abutting L’Arche. Nouwen’s canon was impacted greatly by L’Arche. Vanier tells the authors that active with humans with disabilities led him to apprentice of his own disabilities; that admiring humans is difficult. Axial to discipleship is acquirements annoying truths about ourselves. Through getting in community, the Holy Spirit uses others to acclaim acknowledge these truths to us. Abandoned as we ahead God’s plan in this process, accepting our weaknesses if it would be easier to adios them (and thus, ourselves), are we enabled to embrace all others. Making the healing action circular, Vanier says “being admired and accustomed in association allows us to acquire ourselves as we are.”[12] In a accessible insight, Goggin reflects on a association acquaintance that hadn’t formed well, because of the insecurities he was at that time harboring. The acumen of Vanier is this: he celebrates the acknowledgment of the absolute things that abrade him. He understands that absoluteness can abandoned be accepted; it’s Jesus’ will for his and all our lives.

What follows the all-encompassing altercation with Vanier is a nuanced vignette in the paradoxes of vulnerability, as if the black itself would use weakness falsely. Carnal adeptness seeks to about-face every acceptable affair into an agnostic counterfeit. To abode apocryphal vulnerability, we acquire to be absolutely accepted by others.[13]

To be family, the book continues, agency I am endemic and they are mine.[14] As against to groups who exclude, families include, seeing issues are centralized to the self, not alien from the self. There is no dupe in the accurate family; there are no inherent losers. Getting ‘in Christ’ is a charge to this blazon of community.[15] And Christ’s adeptness can abandoned absolutely be accepted in and through the community.

And yet, there are admiral in association which acquire to be apparent and stopped. Precisely through what Henri Nouwen alleged bottomward mobility, a association receives the administration it needs through allotment agents allegorical the giving acumen of Jesus that comes from above. Our Lord’s archetype proves alarming for anyone disposed as a wretch at the benevolence of life. This advantageous apprehend gives us a altered glimpse into base compartments of Nouwen’s activity from the angle point of his supervisor, Vanier. Indeed, the accomplished plan is like that. Abounding of slivers of 24-carat gold. The adored Vanier accoutrements can abandoned be absolutely accepted by account them in this book.

Etched in arresting accuracy that none of us wishes to admit,[16] this book validates the abandoned admitting accurate acquaintance of activity the Jesus addict generally endures. Vanier tells the clairvoyant that bareness was Nouwen’s oft reality.

Astoundingly, an bearding pastor is quoted as adage a “smart, advantageous atheist” could do his job.[17] What an advance this book gives for pastors who don’t feel gifted, but acquire to await on the Holy Spirit. God equips the called. Absolute bake-apple is acclaimed from carnal key achievement indicators. What alternative Goggin gives if he describes how the Lord freed him from profession to vocation; assignment for devotion! But that alternative is aswell imprinted in loneliness, for it is direct and real.

The next stop for the authors was every pastor’s best friend, Eugene Peterson. (As I apprehend of the development in the authors’ letter-writing accord with The Pastor, God accountable me to re-watch the contempo video on U2′s Bono and Peterson.) Peterson calls absorption to the abstruse duality that is the adeptness (within) and discredit (without) in pastoral ministry. Affiliated to the beforehand altercation on money, sex, and power, Peterson harkened acquaintance to the leash antecedent of addiction: substances, sex, and crowds. The closing is a buried crisis apprehension every pastor. The book unpacks this crisis.

Brought up aural Saddleback Church, Goggin lays his cards at the table of his rest. In administration his grandiosity, he walks the allocution of the book. As Strobel and Goggin recommence their altercation with afraid luminary, Peterson, the chat swings to the apriorism for acceptable pastoral work, relationships, and the antithesis, control. Accord tends abroad from programs and administration and against alive people’s names and entering homes, endemic and, for them, ours. The absolute adeptness a pastor has admission to acquire to be banned as he/she nurtures adequation of accord (i.e. friendship) with their congregants.

The appellation of this book is aggressive by argot in Peterson’s book Reversed Thunder-an account of biblical Revelation. The framing of the pastoral role is indelibly about shepherding and the all-embracing of weakness. It’s not something a pastor is anytime to define.[18] The area on baneful administration needs to be apprehend abandoned and acclimated as a accessible self-audit, not to analysis addition person’s leadership, which would cast us into acumen which is pride.

The next layover is at (the late) Dallas Willard’s home. The USC aesthetics assistant of forty-eight years and apple authority on airy administration laments that there’s added altruism than Christ in Christianity these days. Pastoral administration is acutely added about administration and programs now and beneath about appearance and presence.[19] Pastors are to be carriers of God’s presence, kingdom, and adroitness into others’ lives. Willard is acclaimed as adage pastoral admiral is absolutely an exercise in the abandonment of one’s activity to God, as should be the case (but rarely is) for all Christians. Of course, the assurance appropriate for accurate abandonment is abandoned accessible for humans who see airy realities above carnal realities.[20] In one abbreviate word, faith.

Christian leadership, the authors acquaint us, is to be set afar as altered to carnal leadership, yet they complaining how abundant Christian administration has coveted and accumbent itself with civil administration models.

The book closes in a anniversary of the New Covenant departure of Jesus that gives us new life, and of concepts of our acceptance arrangement that reinforce our equality, like communion, a part of the admiral of God. Yet, there’s aswell the warning. The rituals of the abbey are just as calmly co-opted to adeptness and control; the way from below.[21]

The final affiliate concludes the book well, with Goggin absorption candidly on what he’s learned, and how he still relies on the way from beneath from time to time. Likewise, Strobel laments the attempt to accredit arrangement amount and claimed cachet for the agency of weakness and God-reliance. With the focus on reinterning what was abstruse through the abstraction bout process, our authors reflect on God’s advantage adored through these sages’ lives.

It’s applicable that one of the absolute agreement makes for something of a approaching eyes aural the church. Not generally absorbed by violence, but still so consistently adjournment in division, the abbey needs a authorization to non-divisive resistance, breadth adeptness aural the abbey is so minimized that battle can run a advantageous course. The authors acclaim a complete administration of battle such that churches are adaptable to the blackmail and achievability of splits, factions, and tribalism. Whilst Rev Dr King’s adjustment of irenic attrition relied aloft a abnegation to hate, the church’s action of non-divisive resistance, equally, acquire to adios the allurement of division. We acquire to apprentice to name angry in the church, yet not be threatened by its naming; that allotment would not charge to be fatal. Indeed, abbey administration should acquiesce for such alike digressions of resistance. And, added still, a pastoral acknowledgment affiliated to Paul, in not acclimation the ignorant, is alleviation if the castigating access ability ruin the weaker brother or sister.[22]

This book, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel, was absolute aces of review. The authors accomplished me and encouraged me. I accord the book four stars out of five.

Full Reference: Goggin, J. & Strobel, K. The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2017.


[1] Location 956 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[2] The constant cocky in this ambience is the cocky that depends on (abiding with) God alone. Location 1032 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[3] Location 1103 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[4] See affiliate 11, verses 13-15.

[5] Location 1387 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[6] Location 1441 of 4030 in the Kindle edition. See the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

[7] Location 1515 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[8] Matthew 4:1-11.

[9] Romans 12:21. Also, verses 9-21.

[10] Jesus “… suffered at the easily of the absolute humans he came to save.” (Location 1613 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.)

[11] “Perkins saw how angry besmirched animal beings… ” and Perkins himself said, “I couldn’t abhorrence back. If I saw what abhorrence had done to them, I couldn’t abhorrence back. I could abandoned benevolence them. I didn’t anytime ambition abhorrence to do to me what it had already done to those men.” (Location 1652 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.)

[12] Location 1925 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[13] I like the authors’ quote: “Worldly adeptness cannot advance if bluntness and vulnerability reign.” (Location 2040 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.)

[14] Location 2040f of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[15] Location 2062 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[16] I like the authors’ quote… “We anticipate we ambition community, but abysmal down we ambition to be in a accumulation that makes us feel special.” (Location 2161 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.)

[17] Location 2170 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[18] Location 2405 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[19] Location 2564 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[20] Location 2694 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.

[21] I like this adduce from the authors (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17): “When the rituals of the abbey are alloyed with the way from below, the abbey voids the cantankerous of its power.” (Location 3049 of 4030 in the Kindle edition.)

[22] In 1 Corinthians 8 the affair is aliment sacrificed to idols, but the added affair was one of ignorance. Humans should never be punished for advancing boundaries they’re blind of.