Title: Free Book
Author: Brian Tome
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Are you living a life of freedom or one of fear? That’s the question at the heart of pastor & author Brian Tome’s latest, Free Book. Tome is “a fanatic about freedom” (p.3). He hates that people are beaten down by systems that prevent them from experiencing true freedom, “the kind of freedom that God offers” (p. 4). He wants to see people living in that freedom. And that is a good desire. How he expresses this desire, however, is lacking.
Lost in the Noise
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some really good and helpful things, but much of it is just noise. And sometimes it’s a real challenge to see which is which.
Tome like far too many authors, tries too hard to be funny and edgy. He goes for the punchline, for the “shocking” statement in an attempt to show his freedom and it’s incredibly unappealing as a reader. It actually made me want to not read the book. He talks about his hatred of wearing a motorcycle helmet and how, whenever he’s in a state where it’s not required, he’ll ride without. This is one of the ways he exercises his freedom in Christ. The Spirit is a Spirit of freedom yes, but He’s also the Spirit of wisdom. Freedom is not an excuse to be foolish.
Other points are contradictory or just plain silly. Defining freedom, Tome writes, “Freedom is being who God designed you to be. It’s living free of condemnation and free of others’ concern. It’s developing a healthy conscience and not allowing things in your past that you’ve repented and been forgiven of to still taint your conscience. It’s believing that if God is okay with you, then who gives a rip if someone else isn’t?” (p. 19) Now, in a certain sense, this is true. We should rest in the assurance of God’s favor, absolutely. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” wrote Paul in Romans 8:31. However, it doesn’t excuse the valid concerns of others, something that Tome even acknowledges later in the book. “If your community says you have a blind spot, you probably do” (p. 193).
Further, early in the book Tome states that we don’t need another book on the cross, but we do need a book on freedom. However, it’s important to remember that the only thing that brings us true freedom, the kind the author desires us all to have, is the cross. We don’t find freedom looking away from the cross, but we do find it when our eyes are firmly fixed upon it.
Sifting for Gold
Unfortunately, this causes some of the really good things he has to say to be drowned out. Frankly, I think if 60 pages or so were cut, the book would be much more profitable. When Tome begins speaking of identifying and breaking free of the spiritual strongholds that prevent us from living in the freedom Christ offers us, he’s very helpful, thoughtful and passionate. He reminds readers that authority is important because, “When you honor the authority God has put in your life, you are free of carrying burdens alone and can focus on other things” (p. 195). In other words, you don’t need to feel like you have to control things that you’ve not been given authority over. Let it go. Regarding money he writes, “[P]art of freedom that comes from generosity is that when you give, money has less and less control over you” (p. 178). These are a couple of the bits of gold that can be mined from Free Book.
Exercise Your Freedom
Free Book is not for everyone, but freedom is for all who are in Christ. You’re free to read it; you’re likewise free to not. While it contains some helpful advice, there are other books available that will likely be a better use of your time. I leave the choice to you.
A complimentary copy of Free Book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program