Book Review: “Theology of Luck”

Note: Last summer I was approached about the possibility of being a reviewer of Theology of Luck. Hearing only great things about the book, I eagerly accepted. However, life being life, I find myself sitting here, nearly a year later, having never written this review. I want to make it a point to bring to the forefront that the authors, Jeff Lane and Rob Fringer, were extremely gracious and forgiving (even when I gave them little reason to be so). So, I eagerly implore you, read this review, and go buy their book. Your investment couldn’t go to better people, and this is a book very much worth your hard-earned money.

Theology of luck

Why does God let good things happen to bad people?

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Does God even care about us?

Is God even in control?

These questions have run through the minds of most who have taken the journey of faith. As pastors, we’ve comforted the grieving as they bury a child, a spouse, friend or loved one. We’ve sat in hospital rooms, weeping over and praying for the beautiful child laying on the sterile hospital bed. Struggling through tears and fears, to answer the questions (from others, and from ourselves) about the obvious injustice of a 5 year old little girl caught in a losing battle with leukemia.

“Why them, God?” we ask.

This is the cry of the human heart. This, the sincere longing for understanding. I mean, if God is so powerful, so wise, and so loving, how can these tragedies happen?

This internal struggle can lead us to a terrifying proposition:

Either God is all powerful and not all loving.

Or

God is all loving but not all powerful.

Does it have to be this way? I mean, there has to be more to God, pain and suffering than a simple binary answer, right?

This is the question Rob Fringer and Jeff Lane attempt to answer in their latest work, Theology of Luck: Fate, Chaos, and Faith.

Breaking it down

Theology of Luck is separated into three sections with three chapters each.

Those sections being: (1) Movement from fate to faith, (2) the movement from magic to mystery, and (3) movement from destiny to desire. On the journey through these sections, the reader is invited to explore the differences between luck and fate, unpack our theology of “inadequate faith” (the understanding that God only gives good things to those who have enough faith), and in the midst of it all, discovered what it is we are created to become (our purpose and what it means to live fulfilled lives).

Each chapter uncovers, unpacks and sheds light on some of the most destructive and wound-inflicting theologies we Christ-followers come in contact with (as well as internally struggle with ourselves).

What I loved about this book

I found myself moved at many points during this book. However, I was deeply impacted by the work in chapter eight; examining what it means to be called by God. The parse the difference between occupation and ones “calling.” The authors worked through how God desires for each of us to live out our “calling” no matter our specific “vocation.” It is irrelevant whether a person finds their paycheck coming from their hours spent as a lead pastor, construction worker, banker or baker, the work we do, is our calling.

Often, church folks can fall into the trap of believing the only ones “called” by God are the ones who stand up front, behind the pulpit, and draws a salary from the church. Fringer and Lane, however, argue our calling is much more inclusive than we often imagine.

They brilliantly quote Frederick Buechner when he wrote:

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than the voice of society, say, or the superego or self-interest.

…The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you [find your work rewarding], you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work [does not benefit others], the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). However, if you work [does benefit  others], you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re [unhappy with] it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your [customers] much either.

…The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets. (p. 149-150)

Summary

Ultimately, the greatest contribution made by Theology of Luck is the brilliant way Fringer and Lane wrestle with what it means to be in participation with our heavenly Father’s mission in the world. As a pastor, as a Christian, and as someone who wrestles with who God is and what his character looks like, I found this book deeply meaningful and comforting. I could not recommend a book more highly.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: “Theology of Luck”

  1. Thanks for the recommendation. I will endeavor to read this volume. On this subject, have read and I would recommend, “The Doors of the Sea,” by David Bentley Hart.

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