Monday, June 13, 2011

Reviewing Michael A. Zigarelli's Cultivating Christian Character

I chose to read Cultivating Christian Character: How to Become the Person God Wants You to be and How to Help Others Do the Same for a summer class I will be taking at CIU. Dr. Zigarelli attempts to answer the timeless question, "How do I become more like Jesus Christ?" His approach is driven by his research based on the experiences of more than 5,000 Christians around the world, however, I believe he misses the mark immensely. I do believe that Dr. Zigarelli desires for others to become better people, but his methods for understanding how to achieve a lasting transformation are largely man-centered. You will not find much Scripture in this book, and this is where the key to cultivating Christian character and living a God-glorifying life is found. This is not a secret that needs to be uncovered. If we want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we need to read and study the Bible so we can understand how to rest in Christ's completed work on the cross. Yes, other spiritual disciplines like fasting, journaling, and serving others can certainly help us become more Christlike, but the renewing of our minds starts in the Good Book. Additionally, there is simply not enough of an emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit and on the glorious truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What you do find in Cultivating Christian Character are a lot of charts and graphs that try to dissect how to become what he calls a "high-virtue" Christian. The book concludes with notes, references, and a list of resources Dr. Zigarelli suggests for cultivating Christian character. Unfortunately, some of the resources have questionable theology. I am sure there are portions of this book that can help some people, but there are scores of resources available that can have a greater impact on your heart and mind. Perhaps you want to look into Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, and The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Although I do not agree with every theological stance these authors hold, these are books that Dr. Zigarelli recommends that I have benefited from.