By Mike Weaver of the band Big Daddy Weave
27 August 2013
partial Redeemed lyrics
I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be
All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet
I’m coming at this song and devotional from a completely different perspective than I suspect most readers of Redeemed are. Before reading through the book, I’d never heard—or even heard of—the song of the same name, which inspired the thirty included devotions. I read through the entire book before ever listening to the song that prompted it; I hoped that in doing so, I would appreciate the song itself more than I would’ve the other way around.
Each chapter makes up one devotion, which is split into the following smaller sections: title, Bible verse, 3-4 paragraphs of related writing, “more promises from God’s word” (3-4 further verses), “more great ideas” (4+ related quotations from prominent Christians), “a prayer for today”, and a one-page section for the reader to write their own thoughts about the devotion’s material/topic, etc.
The chapter titles all begin with “Redeemed…” and continue with topics like “from the Shame”, “and Courageous”, and “for All Time”. As you may imagine, the Bible verses and the rest of each devotion center around its title. As a reader and a skeptic, I think that reading different versions of the Bible is absolutely a great thing to do, but when another book (especially a devotional) is just taking verses here and there, the verses should all be from the same version. Just pick a version and stick with it. This devotional uses nine—nine—different versions: King James Version, New King James Version, The Message, New International Version, New Living Translation, New Century Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, and Holman Christian Standard Bible. That’s like reading something written semi-randomly in nine different dialects, and it doesn’t inspire confidence. Even though all the versions mentioned here are in English, anyone who’s read the King James Version will tell you it’s markedly different from The Message, which is much different from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and so on.
The further ideas from prominent Christians section isn’t that much better, but for a different reason. First, the quotations “are not, in all cases, exact quotations, as some have been edited for clarity and brevity”. Some were retrieved from secondary sources, and their “accuracy cannot be guaranteed”. I understand that brevity is the soul of wit and all that, but it strikes me as dishonest for an author to mold another person’s words to fit his own purposes, whatever his good intentions may be. The reader is forced to trust the author’s interpretation of another person’s words. It’s like reading a translation of a translation, which is problematic in and of itself, but could be acceptable if it was so presented. But in this case, I can’t tell how accurate these “quotations” actually are, and there’s no obvious warning about the author’s paraphrasing.
Second, this section is taken up far more by men’s words than by women’s, at a clip of more than 2 to 1 (which is a far better ratio than I was expecting, to the author’s credit… sort of). Since I can safely assume that most, if not all, of the Bible was written by men—and most, if not all, of the Bible was translated by men—having men’s words outpace women’s words so completely in the section following multiple Bible verses just adds insult to injury.
I ended up so disheartened by the devotional that I didn’t even bother listening to the song that prompted it. “Redeemed” (the song) may have inspired millions, but I cannot in good faith recommend this book. When I read a devotional, I want to be lost in the wonder of God, but when the devotions themselves are so problematic, it’s impossible for me to find much worth in them.
DISCLAIMER: I received Redeemed free from Worthy Publishing for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.