Book Review: Seeing With New Eyes by David Powlison


    Powlison has the unique ability to gently critique falsehood in a manner that is clear and intentional. He takes the best of the biblical counseling movement and applies it to the modern context. This book teaches the Christian how to bring Scripture to bear on our everyday moments. 

    In a chapter focused on Psalm 131, Powlison comments on human pride and how it creates noisiness and anxiety. “I just want a little respect and appreciation…I want approval and understanding…I want to feel good…I want my way…I want God to do my will. I want to be God…doesn’t everybody?” (79).  These moments in the book are challenging and insightful. The effects of sin on our thinking is a doctrine that many forget but that Powlison brings to the foreground in this book.

    The author examines a handful of psychological perspectives and compares them with biblical Christianity. He does this effectively and without sounding overly critical. On page 191 he gets to the root of “defense mechanisms” by re-naming them “war-making tendencies.” Powlison's critique flows out of a distinctly covenantal perspective. All people are either covenant makers (in Christ) or covenant breakers (in Adam). By doing this Powlison is able to examine the offensive nature of defensiveness. This is something that an overly psychologized church needs to hear, because once we diagnose the problem correctly we are that much closer to the biblical solution.

    Powlison also critiques popular “Christian” perspectives on counseling. He takes an entire chapter to critique the extremely popular book, The Five Love Languages. In this chapter, Powlison is at his most polemical.  He attacks the unbiblical premises that lead to “deplorable” conclusions and methods. The author of The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman, writes that people sin because of a love deficiency rather than because of willful sin.  Certainly there may be sin done to the individual which may even be connected with a lack of love, but this does not cause sin. Chapman's perspective leaves the sinner with a viable excuse for his sin; this is something that the Bible never does. For this reason, Chapman’s system appears to commend an unbiblical view of sin and love. Powlison handles the issue well and is a must read for those who have embraced the love language philosophy. 

I highly recommend this book for the Christian who longs to apply Scripture to one's own life and to the lives of fellow Christians. 

Pastor Scott