Daniel Hill. 10:10: Life to the Fullest. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2014. pp. 224. $14.99 Purchase on Amazon
One of the most commonly expressed problems with the church and Christianity is that there is just something that is missing. People grow tired of church politics and programs, and the church seems to give inadequate answers to life’s deepest problems. Because of a lack of sincerity and apparent empty religious rituals, many people say farewell to the church, while actually craving spirituality. It is this group of people who are not atheistic or agnostic in their thinking. They may believe in God or at least may be open to believing in God. They try church and leave wanting something more.
This tragedy is also felt by many believers who desire something more than what their church offers in the form of religious practices devoid of sincerity. All Christians are searching for a deeper, more intimate walk with God. We desire a relationship that is impactful and deep, and become frustrated when worldly elements within the church keep us from such a relationship.
It is out of a realization of this natural desire in both Christians and non-Christians alike that Daniel Hill writes 10:10. He has written this book as an encouragement to those struggling to find fulfillment in mediocre Christianity and are seeking to “live life to the fullest.” Though 10:10 contains a promising purpose and helpful stories, its flaws greatly overshadow its strengths. Weak biblical exegesis and the absence of the gospel leaves 10:10 with much to be desired.
Hill formerly worked at Willow Creek Community Church before becoming the pastor of River City Community Church in Chicago. He states that the purpose of 10:10 is “to paint a biblical picture of holistic, multidimensional faith, and to inspire and equip you to step into that as a new dimension of life in Christ” (33). Hill possesses a talent for painting a picture and telling a story, but it seems the book falls short of reaching this goal.
10:10 is a book about how faith fills the longing of the heart for something more. He bases the thrust of the book on John 10:10, which states, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Hill believes the key to a fulfilled life is faith.
Hill describes “holistic faith” in three sections. 10:10 begins with a lengthy introduction, which comprises four chapters where he details his own journey. The book is very autobiographical before getting to the subject matter of how faith brings fulfillment in life. Hill describes his own spiritual journey through various denominations when he realized that in every church and every denomination, the Christians he encountered seemed to be lacking the same thing—faith.
First, Hill spends time discussing how faith relates to fear. He writes, “[T]he fear of losing what we cherish most must loosen its hold on our hearts before we can surrender to the One who is offering us the fullness of life” (60).
Next, Hill discusses faith’s role in the Christian’s intimacy with God. He believes we must learn to “trust the One how has called us out of the darkness and into the light” and we must “allow him to lead us into that which our hearts most long for: spiritual intimacy with God” (109).
Finally, Hill discusses faith’s role in the mission of the church and every Christian. Hill intimates, “Saying yes to God’s mission may be the life-changing answer” to what is missing from your relationship with God (164).
Significant Voice to Practical Ministry
Even though I find many fundamental problems with 10:10, Hill has not written a completely unhelpful book. There are many strengths in the book worthy of mentioning. First, Hill is a tremendous communicator and storyteller. I found myself captivated by his personal experiences and those of the people in his life. His illustrations will refresh and inspire readers to consider places of lethargy in their faith while encouraging them to find new depths in their relationship with God and the practical outworking of their faith. As an example, Hill challenges readers to consider how their faith impacts their activity with the outcasts of the world. He writes,
In many Christian circles there is a strict adherence to the commandments associated with personal morality but a confusing absence when it comes to the orientation of God toward the poor. Many Christians face the same problem as the rich young ruler: we have observed one list of commands but correspondingly ignored another. This imbalance is problematic (56).
Hill’s concerns over lackluster ministry practices are valid and commendable. Pastors will especially be challenged by many of Hill’s thoughts about ministry. I agreed with Hill often in his indictment of mediocre Christian ministry that loses sight of the mission of the church. I especially appreciate his sentiment, “Mission is what connects the eternal, supernatural work of God with our everyday acts of love” (175). So, while calling for radical faith that leads to impactful ministry to the poor, outcast, and destitute, Hill sees this carried out in ordinary acts of love. Hills thoughts and words on ministry are significant and beneficial.
O, Gospel, Where Art Thou?
While I was sporadically challenged by Hill to evaluate my own heart toward the poor, there is a greater error at hand in 10:10 that constantly alarmed me. The message of the gospel is hard to find in the pages of this book. I find this to be inexcusable given the purpose and overall thrust of the book focusing on faith. How can a Christian book on faith leave out the gospel? Hill sought to invigorate what he feels is missing in the lives of many Christians, a holistic faith, yet he fails to discuss the only reality that makes faith worth anything.
I typically judge Christian books, sermons, and church services by at least one criteria—would someone who openly opposes the message of Christianity be offended or at least struck by what is being said? It seems to me that the message of 10:10 could easily be applied to numerous religions. Many religions care for the poor and seek to have a vibrant and intimate faith that deepens their relationship with the divine and spills over into good deeds. The staple in Christianity is the cross that offends those dead in their sin. Faith is not seen in 10:10 as a gift from God through the work of Jesus Christ. And that is alarming.
Hill brings out helpful aspects of faith, but he misses its very nature. Biblical faith is tied to repentance, and received as a gift from God by the blood of his Son. Hill totally whiffs on repentance. In fact, there is little to no mention of sin in his book whatsoever. This is a tremendous oversight, as biblical faith is unrealized without the atoning work of Christ, a reality Hill barely mentions in passing. Hill prefers to speak of our own fears and the activity of Satan as the primary inhibitors to a holistic faith. He writes,
I am convinced that these are the two barriers we must overcome if we are to experience authentic intimacy with God. First, we must trust Jesus to lead us past our own fears and insecurities around intimacy. Second, we must trust in Jesus to lead us past the deceptive techniques of the thief who prowls around looking to steal, kill, and destroy God’s vision for our lives (109).
Indirectly and unintentionally, perhaps, Hill proposes that we are able to obtain intimacy with God apart from the gospel. The atoning work of Christ may be subtly implied at best, but a clear presentation of the gospel in a section titled “the center of faith” seems all but necessary. Talking about faith apart from the gospel is inexcusable for a Christian pastor and author. Hill puts forward a call for spiritual intimacy by the means of faith apart from the cross.
It would have been nice to have the final section (which I enjoyed) prefaced by a gospel-centered look at what truly keeps our faith at bay—imbedded sin. There are other flaws in this book, such as weak exegesis that make some of Hill’s practical application questionable, but this flaw pales in comparison to the oversight of the gospel.
All in all, 10:10 will inspire readers in many places, but it fails to help readers realize what it means to live life to the fullest. This is because he misses the only means of a full life, the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are a young or new Christian, I cannot recommend this book with integrity because of the confusion it could create regarding biblical faith. Seasoned believers can be encouraged and helped so far as they take into consideration the above-mentioned flaws.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggershttp://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.