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The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn

November 8, 2011

Book Review: The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn **

Book Review The EncounterAn agreeable read about a successful CEO who, on the advice of a friend, goes in search of answers to his past.  Jonathon Rush has known he was adopted because he clearly remembers the day his mother walked out of his life. Even though his adoptive family has been loving and kind, he cannot shake the anger and rejection he has felt since that day so long ago when he was just four years old.

I would consider The Encounter appropriate for teens and adults. Adult readers will probably be unsurprised by the unfolding of the story. There are no big surprises as to who Jonathon’s mother is, or why she deposited him at the local orphanage. The characters themselves are no big mysteries, either. They display what you expect as far as motives and actions which is to say they reflect the common dilemma of many modern day humans; angry about the injustices of life, and suffering from their own unforgiveness.

The strength of the story in my view is the clear message of redemption and the ability of the forgiveness of God to change and heal lives. I think teens and adults alike are challenged by The Encounter to take a second look at situations in their own lives and the lives of people around us where we may be tempted to judge, but instead may find opportunity to see the grace and mercy of God restore and redeem.

Flags: (For an explanation of the what and why of Flags, see my About page)

  • The mother in the story tells of her past when she was a young waitress and had a “romance” with a young man who was working in the area. He left to follow work   just before she discovered she was pregnant. They were not married and the story implies she never told him of the expected child. She was devastated and contemplated suicide. It should be noted that later in the story she puts her faith in Christ, but this line of thought is not revisited in light of the gospel.  See excerpt below from  Pg 43

“For a time she thought about killing herself. What did she have to live for anyway?
But she didn’t.
She couldn’t.
Ada had no problem with the idea of taking her own life. As far as she was concerned, her main reason for living walked out on her. But she had more than one life to think about now.”

  • Mention of partying, mental breakdown, psychiatric hospitals, and prison. These are viewed as aspects of a regrettable past
  • Character relinquishes parental rights of young son
  • Character displays some behavior which is interpreted as a ‘mental breakdown’ such as breaking into an orphanage to watch her sleeping son
  • Main character’s past briefly described and includes temper tantrums, multiple failed marriages, and addiction to prescription pain killers pg 93-95
  • Christian terminology “even if nobody else forgives me, God does because of His Son, Jesus” pg 124
  • The book contains an appendix informing about the author’s ministry, New Life, a Christian counseling ministry. I didn’t have any objections to the advice in this section, but parents should know that it contains short discussions of real-life issues such as alcoholism, pornography, sexual addiction, and abortion.

**BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book

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