Manifest Destiny: The Path to Wisdom by Dr. Jamere A. Brown Spencer
Type: Christian, Nonfiction, Self-Help
Basic Idea: Manifest Destiny discusses many things that Dr. Spencer believes that the church and Christians are missing out on and why.
Reliability of Information: 3½/5 Accuracy with Some Misuse: Dr. Spencer clearly has a lot of knowledge of the Bible as well as a genuine heart to please God, a good combination for Christian self-help books. He has a deep knowledge of Bible languages, history, experience, and Bible. The information needed for extensive knowledge and application of the Bible can be seen throughout his writing. The only problem with the reliability is that some of the Bible verses are taken out of context. This is a common error that I believe every Christian will probably do if they write a book, as none of have it all together, but it is still good to know it when we see it. Some of it is minor, such as men being superior to angels (Hebrews 2:7), and a few are slightly more serious, such as the belief that a certain verse means that Satan caused darkness. Nothing in the book though is heretical or cultish in any way.
Application: 3/5 Some Good and Some Inaccurate: This book was a good sixty-forty split in good and bad application. Dr. Spencer uses very good principles in his book, such as a willingness to grow, heart over head knowledge, and having faith in God. Unfortunately, like all books, there are some errors in application, such as that the Bible and the words that God puts in your heart are at the same level. In some ways this is true, and the principle behind it is true, but the literal application could be easily used in an unbiblical way.
Readability: 4½/5 Amazing: With colorful analogies, true stories, and sympathetic life illustrations, this book is both interesting and easy to understand. His intentions are clear and simple, and he explains them with good analogies. A child could easily understand what he is trying to say.
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: I will say that Manifest Destiny: The Path to Wisdom definitely has spiritual principles and truths that one can learn from it. It is meatier than the average Wal-Mart inspirational self-help book that is little more than a spoonful of frosting, though there are some feel good places in it. There is conviction to change, be a better Christian for God, and to have faith. Though I believe some of the application is wrong, I believe if a Christian goes to this book with much prayer, as well as uses their Bible and even maybe the knowledge of others, they can learn much from this book while still not believing the inaccuracies. I believe that the best people to read this are Christians that are secure in their faith and what they believe, but they are willing to learn more and add on to their faith. I wouldn’t recommend have a young Christian or someone who is still trying to ground certain things in the faith.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: It is mentioned that a man said he would use magic to go into a girl’s bedroom at night, but it sounds like this did not happen. There is a brief mention of prostitutes. It mentioned the biblical account of failed demon removal and how the men were naked.
Violence: 2/5 Brief Mention: The author is beaten up at least twice and is threatened with harm and death multiple times, though it rarely comes to anything. He also talks about being careful to avoid a “beat down” from the neighborhood gangs. It is mentioned that American settlers pillaged the Native Americans. The author dreams about wrestling with a gorilla and kicks his wife in his sleep. A pitbull tries to attack a family, but stops. Ninjas are mentioned to work in “assassination and sabotage.” Nuclear weapons are briefly mentioned. The persecution of Christians is mentioned.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3/5 Some Disturbing Content: The author describes his encounter with a demon, partially describing the way it looked. The author mentions that many of his high school friends were murdered, in prison, or on drugs. It mentions that men have died in pursuit of their dreams, specifically Ferdinand Magellan. The biblical event of failed demon removal is mentioned, as well as that they were naked, bleeding, and screaming. The author dreams about a tsunami and a tornado. In a dream, a man points a gun at the author, but does not fire. People cry from fear and emotions. It mentions that the author bled when beaten up.
Religious Issues: 2/5 Some Religious Issues and Brief Mention The author strongly believes in and defends the gap theory, though it is never called so by name. It is said that darkness before creation could have been “millions of years” and that “no one really knows.” All forms of worship are looked at as equal. The author tells the myth of how the Native Americans believed America came about. There is mention of the zodiac, but it is explained in a Christian context, the pagan one being barely mentioned. Modern men are said to have heard God talking to them. A man is mentioned to believe in the post-tribulation. There is brief mention that women are pastors and that believing they may not teach is an error. There is mention of women being godmothers. There is negative mention of the pope and the Catholic religion, but there is also positive talk about the life of St. Benedict, who is regarded as a genuine Christian. There is mention of monks and monasteries. The author talks about good and bad meditation. The New Age is briefly mentioned. The Indian caste system and its branches are described. Pac-Man ghosts are mentioned.
Magic: 3/5 Brief Mention of Real Witchcraft: The author mentions that he knew people that claimed to be sorcerers or a druid, as well as that one could partially control the weather. There is one brief mention of a Muslim man. The witchcraft association with owls is mentioned. There are biblical references to “enchanters, magicians, and diviners.” The radio show Sid Roth, It’s Supernatural is mentioned and encouraged to be at least partially considered as reliable Christian miracles. “Magic” is used fro descriptive purposes.
Others: There are at least two references of worship dancing, and one to traditional dancing. The author once tells a story that involves him wearing a chain necklace. There is mention of drugs, drug death, and drug dealers. It mentions that a teacher drank alcohol at school. Wine is mentioned once. There are references to pop culture things such as The Incredible Hulk, Soul Train, and the Easter Bunny. “Ballet” is used for descriptive purposes.
Overall: 3½/5 Almost Teenager Appropriate: The encounter with a devil, real life magic, and some liberal religious content makes me recommend it mostly to adults. Some teenagers may be able to read it, but most I wouldn’t recommend it to.
Note to the Author: I would like to thank Dr. Spencer for lending me his book Manifest Destiny: The Path Towards Wisdom. Despite disagreements the two of us may have on certain things, it was still a pleasure to read his book, and I did learn many new things reading it. He is the first person to ever send me a book to review, and I thank him very much for it. – Sincerely, the author of Christian Entertainment Reviews Blog.