I received an advance reading copy of Ron Carpenter, Jr.'s book, The Necessity of an Enemy, from WaterBrook Multnomah. I found this book through the regular mailings that pastors receive from Pastor Resources Magazine.
What is an enemy and how do they apply in the Christian life? That is at the heart of this book. Enemies are not basic, minor annoyances of life. For Carpenter, enemies are the events/persons/choice we make that could potentially derail the journey of faith. Carpenter shares experiences from his own ministry of major events that could have ended his ministry, marriage, family unity, and even his life.
The title implies that the true enemies that we encounter in life are part of the process of developing Godly, Christ-like lives. If there is an enemy present, there is potential to grow. But giving into an enemy is very easy. Therefore we need to protect ourselves.
We definitely live in an age where dealing with "enemies" needs to be taught in the church. Economic crisis with resulting job losses, inadequate finances, and the increase in home loss. The increasing reporting of moral lapses and ethical missteps. The church needs to be able to counsel her members on how to face these events while still maintaining a vital faith life.
For me personally, the book didn't address the issue very clearly. It took some work to get the full picture of what Carpenter was getting across. I found myself distracted with the writing style and format. Short chapters didn't allow for a full development of the ideas. The flow between chapters seemed choppy and disjointed at times.
None of that takes away from his sincerity and personal testimony. His personal struggles give him a unique perspective that many pastors will not every have to deal with (at least, I hope I don't). I believe that for someone in the midst of a situation of dealing with enemies of that nature, this book may make more of a connection. He is personable in his writing. His style if down to earth and doesn't use language that is difficult to understand. This isn't a scholarly work. It is personal.