The Broken Way

Ann Voskamp's style is hard for some people to take. Her books are prose poetry, and those who are interested in a strictly academic systematic theology will be disappointed. I find that her writing style is the most common criticism by people who don't like her books. I, however, love the way she writes. It's like an amalgam of T.S. Eliot and Bonhoeffer.

Another criticism I've heard of Voskamp is that her theology is heretical mysticism that perverts the gospel. I read one "discernment" blogger saying that she could hear the whispering of the serpent through Ann Voskamp's writing. I honestly don't get this one at all. I didn't find any trace of bad doctrine in this book at all. Maybe she emphasizes things in a different way than I would, maybe she uses non-standard theological vocabulary, but what she is presenting here is a pretty solid theology of suffering such as Martin Luther would have undoubtedly approved. She's also probably more well-read than most of her critics. When I read One Thousand Gifts I commented that I'd love to get my hands on her commonplace book. That goes for The Broken Way as well. She quotes Augustine, Luther, Calvin, a host of Reformers, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard...even Peter Leithart gets a citation here.

I would say the two basic ideas communicated in this book are:

1) suffering is not something to be avoided at all costs as if it's some great evil, but rather is one of God's main tools in sanctifying us and changing the world. By hiding our personal struggles and brokenness from others and pretending that we're living a life of glory, we miss out on the real blessing of Christian community and koinonia fellowship.

2) Christ is all-sufficient for all our trials and struggles, and Christ most often ministers to us through His people. The Church is a community of suffering sinners lifting one another up in Christ; it's a community of compassion.

A great book to help you refocus on the importance of the Church and the way we ought to be responding to one anothers' struggles and suffering as we live in community together.

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