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June 02, 2005

Book Review: Unlock the Prison Doors

Have you ever sat through one of those Sunday School classes where the teacher had obviously spent all of 10 minutes preparing for the lesson? You know the kind where, in addition to knowing little about the lesson, the teacher lacks the ability or desire to actually attempt to relate the topic to anything personal, so you get to listen to 45 minutes of meandering generalities and superficial homilies.

Unlock the Prison Doors by Terry Barber is maybe marginally better. I say maybe because I gave up reading it at about chapter eleven. I simply could endure no more. The sub-title of the book is “Keys to Breaking the Chain of Habitual Sin” and is terribly misleading. The following line is on page 75 (chapter 6):

Not until Uncle Ebee submits himself to some simple dietary laws, like don't over-eat and eat a balanced diet with regular exercise, will he begin to lose weight.

That alone shows that the author simply doesn't get what habitual sin really is.

There's a chance that if you're a new Christian and want to learn some basics — some really simplistic, basics of sin and spiritual warfare, you might get something out of this book, but be warned that not only does the message never get beyond the barest scratch on the surface of the topic, most of the time it never even brushes the surface. At least a third of the book is quoted scripture, which is inevitably followed by a “summary” which ignores most of what the scripture conveyed.

One of the reasons I didn't finish the book is that I have this pet peeve about authors spending page after page elaborating in-depth on some illustration which inevitably turns out to be only marginally applicable to the point.

Now, I have to admit that the cover design is very professional looking, and the gimmick of skipping lines between indented paragraphs certainly does the trick of making the book appear bigger than it actually is (roughly 44,000 words by my estimate). The book is published by Advantage Books, which is actually a vanity press making the book more or less self-published, and the number of typos give evidence of that.

Yes, I'm being hard on the author, but frankly, there are way, way too many Christian non-fiction books out there already that cloud the field, making it hard for readers to find the good ones. And one of the reasons is that other Christians are afraid to be honestly critical when it comes to someone's work. I'm sure Terry Barber is a swell guy, a dynamic Christian and a credit to his field as a pastor and missionary, but he really needs to stick to that and not waste his (or I'm sure he'd agree that it's — the Lord's) money putting out any more books.

Posted by Danny Carlton at June 2, 2005 11:54 AM

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Congrats on the Conservative Grapevine! Are you still gonna do the blogbursts with us? Make sure to stop by my place every once in awhile...I'd love to be linked on Conservative Grapevine every once in a while. Thanks, Jay

Posted by: Jay at June 2, 2005 06:59 PM

By the way, since you know John from Rightwingnews...do you think you could get him to add a link to me on his site? Whatever you could do to help further our cause and thus further expose the ACLU would be awesome! Thanks, Jay

Posted by: Jay at June 2, 2005 07:01 PM

Could you send me a test email...just so I can ensure you are on the email list?

Posted by: Jay at June 2, 2005 09:25 PM

Amen brother, you said what I couldn't say nearly as nice. :)

Posted by: Stacy L Harp at June 4, 2005 01:15 PM

Dear Jack Lewis,

I disagree with you in your assessment of the book Unlock the Prison Doors. I read it from cover to cover and found it to be a blessing. It is very easy to understand if you are sincere in wanting help with the problem of habitual sin. The Scriptures that Rev. Barber chose to give that help are very pertinent to the problem.

Posted by: Carol Knaur at July 9, 2005 08:47 AM

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