Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Review: Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson, M.D.

The balance between the body and the soul—the material and immaterial—has been a perennial tension for Christianity, all the way back to the early Christians in dealing with Gnosticism. In Anatomy of the Soul, Curt Thompson is treading the same waters. However, the subtitle is a more accurate description of the book: "Surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices that can transform your life and relationships".

The strengths of this book are not a surprise. As a psychiatrist, Thompson shares many accounts from his counseling sessions and shows how changing how we think about certain things—or don't think about them—can change the way we live. I imagine those who might benefit from a counseling session would benefit equally from reading this book.

There are weaknesses present however. Thompson seems to overemphasize the area of neuroscience—the brain and the mind—when speaking of of the Christian life. Chapter after chapter seems to present the Christian's lack of spiritual growth as primarily knowledge-based. Sin, fallenness and human depravity are often put in the context of problems of the mind rather than the heart and then whole person.

While this book may be helpful for some, I feel the author treads dangerous waters in portraying the Christian life as one of simply overcoming misinformation with right information.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Those seeking Christian counseling

This book was a free review copy provided by Tyndale Publishers.


pgardella said...

I have not yet had a chance to read this book, but I'm wondering if *a* point he was making dealt with the idea that the way one thinks can change the chemistry of the brain.

If that is true, it shows that the mind can affect the brain and vice versa. That is a fairly bold (and good) statement regarding the relationship of the two. That can be used to show that a human is not merely physical, but also has a soul. And that is a major blow to materialism (which says the only things that exist are material).

That said, I'd wholeheartedly agree that there is far more to the lack of spiritual growth than lacking knowledge. So I'm not disagreeing!

Jared Totten said...

He didn't deal with that point as much as I expected him to. However, I will be posting another review on a similar topic, and this author certainly did.

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