The Introduction of John MacArthur’s Anxious for Nothing seems geared toward those who are truly anxious for nothing, that is people who are plagued by anxiety but whose lives are otherwise financially and physically well. He states, “More and more we’re hearing of an extreme form of anxiety referred to as a ‘panic attack.'”
Such an opening can make a reader very argumentative. First, because the reader may actually feel she is anxious about something – bills, health, etc-and the author is out to talk about emotional mental issues. It is often a rough road when a preacher or theologian attempts to discuss psychological matters and it is what MacArthur has set out to do. Actually, one of the reasons the book was to written to honor Scripture, to stop its neglect of abuse in therapeutic situations, and to help the anxious person discern the kind of counsel they receive from secular or Christian therapists. He succeeds well enough.
He takes a hard line: Worry is sin, plain and simple. He acknowledges that life and one’s upbringing can create habits of worry but even so, for a Christian to worry or to be anxious is to miss the mark of faith and trust in a loving providing God. He gives pastoral and historical commentary on the nature of worry and the nature of faith. Strangely, although the book is Scripturally true, it often comes off as comfortless, even as it tries to comfort. Possibly because although the author discusses humility and links anxiety with an inability to humble oneself in trust to God, the author doesn’t seem like one who has been despised by men, acquainted with grief, or rejected for me. It’s hard for someone who is the pastor teacher of a large church, the president of a college and seminary, featured teacher on radio, video, audio, print, website resources worldwide with over four decades of ministry, with healthy wife, children and grandchildren (as the book jacket says and as the attitude in the book shows) to understand poverty of spirit. After all, his spirit is being honored everywhere.
The spirit of “testimony” is missing from the book. One cannot take advice to be satisfied with little from someone who himself has had much for so long. His book, The Truth War, was a good read, and its analytical coldness was suitable to its subject. I’m nit-picking of course and it’s a small nit but it’s what makes the book seem so oddly cold. This is a reprint and the glory of reprints is that the author has a chance to put his second thoughts into a book. And by “second thoughts” I mean second thoughts that really matter. The group study guide at the end of the book lists many questions including personal application questions, but the author doesn’t show his own weaknesses…if indeed he even had any. In a time when many are suffering, the book should have contained some elements of the author’s own triumphs. But as it is, it feels very cold. The only time when the book warmed up for me was in the section with the Psalms. Suddenly the book took on a life – a spiritual life-that seemed touchable. I could not help but think that perhaps he should have extended the section on the Psalms. A good book, good for group study, but not really inspiring.
Anxious for Nothing : God’s Cure for the Cares of Your Soul
By John MacArthur
David Cook Publisher