SCARY CLOSE – Donald Miller (2014)

aI admire Donald Miller.  I admire his courage.  I admire his tenacity.  And I admire his ability to tell a story.  Make no mistake – this guy can write!  Admiring Don Miller, however, does not mean I agree with everything he believes.  There’s a good deal I disagree with.  Yet I appreciate his gifts and insight.  Such appreciation is expressed in an earlier review on Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  For me, reviewing a Don Miller book is like walking a tight rope.  On one hand, I have conservative friends who question why I even read the guy.  But Miller fans label my critique as “narrow” or “too evangelical.”

Scary Close addresses the subject of relational intimacy.  The book includes some ideas that are commendable and will be of help to many people.

Strengths in Scary Close

1. It is filled  with a stunning degree of transparency.

Miller opens up like never before.  He is quick to confess some of his previous relational blunders.  He admits his propensity to generate applause.  Yet in a moment of unfettered honesty, he admit that “applause is a quick fix.  And love is an acquired taste.”  This kind of openness and honesty sets the stage for the book and never lets up.  Miller shares his heart in a way that is noteworthy and encouraging.

2. It cherishes authenticity and rejects hypocrisy.

Scary Close is packed with moments of authenticity which help readers get to the very heart of the story.  The subtitle accurately conveys what Miller is after, namely – “dropping the act and finding true intimacy.”

At an important juncture, Miller discusses the toxic nature of judgment, that is, being judged unfairly by other people – for being ourselves.  The author suggest that this poisonous habit has invaded many relationships which “keeps us from connecting with other people.”  Ultimately, Miller does a good job at identifying some of the relational land mines the hinder genuine intimacy.

3. It celebrates human relationships.

The most memorable thing about Scary Close is that it celebrates human relationships.  The author discusses his most important relationships, the chief of which is his wife and shows how true intimacy develops.  Miller is to be commended for his willingness to share from the heart and allow readers to see how his heart operates.

Weaknesses in Scary Close

Strengths considered, there is a missing ingredient in Scary Close.  That ingredient is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yes, the author confesses his allegiance to Jesus.  And the author refers to God and finding rest in him.  This much is true.  But the road to authentic intimacy (which is a necessary path to travel) is paved with psychological tips and therapy which is not grounded in Scripture. Such a critique is bound to draw fire from Miller fans.  Yet Miller himself urges readers to avoid being careful, a practice which led to a temporary bout with “writer’s block.”  I apply that well-placed advice when offering critique.

So while there is much to commend in this book, in the final analysis it falls short by jettisoning the gospel.  Since the essence of the book is about reconciliation, it is disappointing to bypass the promises of the gospel which offers reconciliation with people  and reconciliation with God through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Indeed, resting in one’s relationship with God through Jesus is the key to wholeness which leads to relationships which are known for authenticity, health, and intimacy.

I received this book free from the publisher.   I was not required to write a positive review. 

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One thought on “SCARY CLOSE – Donald Miller (2014)

  1. As usual, I think you were very fair and clear in your review. All of life requires the gospel of Christ to offer hope and salvation. It gives meaning, purpose and destiny. Without the gospel in the “All in all” we are lost, doomed and without hope especially in the area of relationships. Once again, I appreciate your time and evaluation.

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