When the book arrived in the mail I wasn’t sure what to expect. On one hand this is a book written by a young hip-hop artist and I’m a graying 40 year old who prefers my music slow and steady. On the other hand, I heard so many good things about the book and right there on the cover, in between the title and the author’s name, it says, “Forward by John Piper”. Piper, for what it’s worth, is more my speed. I get the sense that he and I probably enjoy the same kind of music. So why was his name on the front cover of a book written by a hip-hip recording artist?
As I started reading things at once became both clear and unclear. Rise is a book littered with pop culture references which went waaay over my head. To be honest, I’ve heard of the people he mentions through the book… people such as LeBron James, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Jay-Z. But other than LeBron James, I couldn’t tell you if they are actors, musicians, or socialites! For someone like myself, who is not very immersed in pop culture , this barrage of names was lost on me. I hate to admit it, but this caused a great deal of confusion for me and it forced me to look these folks up on Wikipedia simply to follow what was being said about them.
But then something incredible happened. As the fog lifted I saw very clearly what Lee was talking about. Theology. Now THAT i recognize!! What I discovered is that Trip Lee has an almost inhuman ability to illustrate complex theological truths through every day scenarios. Quite frankly I was blown out of the water. And this is where the strength of the book is for me. As one who speaks frequently on theological topics, I always struggle with making doctrine approachable. I know that the answer to this is to speak conversationally and illustrate EVERYTHING. However, I always struggle with finding an appropriate illustration. For me, a river is a wonderful illustration of Heraclitus . . . but to anyone having to listen to me talk about pre-socratic metaphysics it is obscure and irrelevant. I need a good dose of what Trip Lee has served up in Rise. I have much to learn from his natural ability to illustrate complex ideas.
In general I found his theology to be orthodox and refreshingly reformed. This book would be a great place to start for those young folk who have a developing interest in Christianity but aren’t quite sure how to approach the traditional language of theology. Lee makes it simple without compromising reformed orthodoxy. I really enjoyed reading this book even though it took me a while to get through. I still have a lingering feeling that I am missing out on a lot of what he had to say simply due to the pop-culture references. Those who have a deep love for both theology and he modern music scene will doubtless enjoy this book much more than I was able to.
I had to give this book 4 of 5 stars despite not fully getting all of the cultural references. Lee’s grasp of theology and ability to communicate theology is simply too good to go any lower, and yet my inability to fully grasp what he is alluding to at times prohibited me from enjoying it at a five star level. I have no doubt however, that there will be many who will read this and give it five stars- and they are justified in doing so.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers ® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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