PUBLICATION DATE: MAY 1, 2012
“People can never argue with a testimony.” This is a something my pastor told me when I was young. I was enamored with apologetics at the time—trying to prove the Christian faith was valid using philosophical arguments, archaeology, and the like. It had some affect. It was rational and it made Christianity make logical sense. But, none of that was ever as powerful as the story of what Christ has done in my life personally. If Jesus came to this world to be with us, then arguing about how archaeology proves that King David existed seemed to be a missing of the point. Nothing is more powerful that story—a personal narrative of a person’s encounter with the living God.
I suppose this is why the ‘I Am Second’ movement has been so popular. A series of smart, clean videos of everyday people and celebrities telling their stories about meeting God have struck a chord with the masses. There’s nothing flashy about the videos. It’s a person sitting in a chair talking about their life. Some of the people talking are larger-than-life figures. But, this process takes them down a notch. It humanizes gods among men. Now, those video testimonies have been translated into the book of the same name, I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives.
What I Am Second does very well is presents a diverse cross section of voices. There is something—rather someone—here for everyone. Like heavy metal? The book kicks off with the story of former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. Into sports? Check out Josh Hamilton’s narrative. Struggle with your weight and feelings of self-worth? The Biggest Loser’s Michelle Augilar shares her testimony. You a skaterboi? Read Brian Sumner’s story. The book showcases the idea that the gospel is one of the most cross-cultural, cross-generational, and transformative stories in the world, informing each our stories in its wake.
But the book may fall victim to what makes ‘I Am Second’ work in the first place.
In a way, given that the ‘I Am Second’ movement tapped into the audio-visual medium of our generation, it almost feels like the I Am Second book feels rather regressive. While I enjoy the written word, what we have here is merely a rehashing of what we already have in video form. They’re said to be more in-depth than the videos. In a way, that’s true. But, to be honest, not enough is added to the stories to make that a key selling point. In the past, I could have handed a book like this to a friend who was playing around the edges of making a decision about Christ. Now, I can just point them to the website which is quicker, cleaner, and more human. The written word is a powerful medium but, as the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A moving picture, I believe, is worth even more.
I Am Second is a decent book. If you are a stickler for the written word, then go for it. But, much like The Hunger Games, I think it makes a much better movie than a book.