Take Heart displays the strengths and weaknesses of a popular work by a New Calvinist celebrity pastor. Positively, Chandler encourages his readers to have a ‘big view’ of God. He surveys the idea of God as a warrior, defeating Satan and defending his people.
Rather than bemoan the end of Christendom, Chandler encourages believers to embrace the opportunity to stand out, now that nominalism is unattractive. Practically, he makes thoughtful suggestions, such as encouraging hospitality: ‘giving loving welcome to those outside your normal circle of friends’ (p.96).
Sadly, there are significant weaknesses. Chandler is flippant about the Fall, suggesting Adam was bird-watching: ‘Ooh, look, a blue jay. I named that, you know. What? Fruit? Thanks, I’d love some’ (p.60).
As part of a book club, he describes reading a work laced with such profanities that he had to hide it from his children. At the book club, Chandler states that ‘every meaningful conversation that we have is surrounded by inappropriate jokes … and that’s great’ (p.107), because Christians should be ‘playing in’ such spaces. Worse, Chandler commends as ‘helpful and enlightening’ (p.33) the TV show Mad Men, which features sensual content (some of which he alludes to). Chandler appreciates the way it demonstrates that the 1960s were not as Christian as some think.
Two stylistic points are worth noting. Some might be frustrated by the American context of Chandler’s illustrations, though I didn’t feel these obscured his basic message. It is a short book, written in a pacy style and reading like a transcribed talk. Whether using so many short sentences is a good idea depends on your taste. Some might. I don’t. This book needs a corrective sequel — something along the lines of Choose holiness: Christian courage in the age of corrupt entertainment.