Book Review:

Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread, Carl Trueman (P&R, 2012)

What a great title for a book! In the Forward, "Rev. Rodney Trotter" addresses the difficulty in marketing a book filled with various, unrelated essays. But this is Trueman’s second time at bat with such a book, and I devoured both. And there really are several themes running throughout the essays--mainly hypocrisy, especially in American evangelical Christianity. It is certainly convicting, while at the same time hilarious. I really was laughing out loud as I was all alone reading.  And Trueman is a stellar writer. Nerds like me who actually have journals to copy good words, phrases, and ideas they read will find treasures in Fools Rush In. You know it’s good when the book provides a Glossary at the end for all of his humorous British slang. And come to think of it, I have previously recorded in my notebook the word Bullsgeschichte that I read on a blog of his once. Never did get that definition, but it’s obviously German, sounds a lot like an American phrase I know, and I don’t think it’s very nice.

Lets face it, Carl Trueman isn’t nice. Have you seen the Geico commercial where the middle-aged, overweight man hires three teenage girls to follow him around so that he will stick to his diet? Every time he’s about to sink his teeth into a tasty doughnut or fast food indulgence, they are right behind him saying, “Ew. Seriously? So gross.” In some ways Trueman is our conscience bringing us back to reality when we begin to think too highly of ourselves. Some are offended by his humor. But I think I’ll take my licks and move on, as he so aptly puts it.

I agree with much of his criticism. And when I don’t, I’m glad to have him fire me up to further seek the truth. He doesn’t seem to have a problem poking a little fun at himself as well. "Trotter" affectionately refers to Trueman as his verbal sparring partner. Although I am nowhere close to his intellectual weight class, I do have a little push back. Given the fact that much of his writings are about hypocrisy, I have to point out two areas where he falls a little short himself. First of all, Trueman seems to have no respect for social networking and especially bloggers. Much of his depictions on the state of the blogosphere are valid. I get it, he finds this method of communication and mediation to be far inferior to actual physical relationships—very true. But he also gives off the insinuation that all bloggers are self-proclaimed experts who shouldn’t be published. We could say the same about much of our verbal communication, couldn’t we? The thing is (sticking to my sparring metaphor), you might be a Hapkido purist. But the world has now invited the Martial Artists to test their skills with one another. You must be careful not to let a punch linger too long, or a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert is going to have you in a rear-naked-choke before you know it. It’s time for Trueman to admit that he’s on the internet plenty, maybe more than he likes. Much of his interaction in the book is with blog posts that a fellow colleague has “brought to his attention.” Well I stopped counting how many times that was. Trueman needs to thank these colleagues for graciously spending the time to investigate what others are saying in the blogosphere and giving him so much writing material. Right? And I know I have been enlightened by the blog posts that Trueman posts over at Reformation21. Trueman, you are a blogger. And you do read blogs. As much as I think Reality TV has exploited people to atrocious levels, I am thankful for Bob and Jillian’s workouts. It is what it is. You can critique it better when you admit that.

Secondly, in his essay, Welcome to Wherever You Are,  Trueman claims that he never responds to personal criticism. But you will find that he does in fact respond in the form of another essay, or two, as we are provided in brilliant form at the end of the book (Is Hurt Mail the New Hate Mail & Am I Bovvered?). Interesting.

I feel kind of funny reviewing this book because Trueman is just leagues above me in intelligence, education, writing skills, and talent in general. Anyone who wants to be sharpened should read this book. While you may not agree with everything he says, you will be challenged by the gospel’s implications. Your sense of humor will be challenged as well. And your vocabulary. Basically, this book boils down to the question: who do you think you are?


[...] see: Book

[...] see: Book Review:-Housewife Theologian – where Trueman pays a visit in the world of blogdom that he so [...]

This housewife k-nows how to

This housewife k-nows how to throw a punch, Jeff. My dad taught Martial Arts & self defense out of our house when I was growing up ( I actually mention that in my next article so sorry for the repetition). Now my brother has a MMA/BJJ Academy. I highly recommend Trueman's book for a different kind of sparring.

Great review. Really nice

Great review. Really nice writing. And you know about mixed martial arts? A "housewife"? Pretty cool. And it was put to very good use here. And the fact that the author came to comment is really nice too. He can dish it out, and he can take it. Sounds like my kind of personality would line up well.



Wow, I'm honored!

Wow, I'm honored!

And you've joined Pyromaniacs

And you've joined Pyromaniacs as the only other theology blog (beyond ref21) in my blog favourite list.

Thanks for the comment, Carl.

Thanks for the comment, Carl. You're much more clever than the three mean girls, and for what it's worth, I've always taken the word "nice" as an insult.

You rumbled me. Yes, I do

You rumbled me. Yes, I do the web a lot (but really, truly, only in general when links are sent to me) and I do respond to criticism every now and then - but only in a sneaky, underhand sort of way. What can I say? Like Doc Holliday in Tombstone, my hypocrisy knows no bounds. But, believe it or not, a friend did point me to this review. Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful comments. I like the thought of being worth three mean girls. That was a great comparison. We are not worthy.

Ha! I knew his signature was

Ha! I knew his signature was mockingly pretentious, but no, I didn't catch that. I'm not up on my British comedy--should've checked with my father-in-law on that one. Now we know that Trueman's the Master of Ninjitsu! I do love how he doesn't give us readers everything, although I don't always catch all the allusions. Have to go back and put Trotters name in quotes...Thanks, Ian.

Aimee - not sure if you or

Aimee - not sure if you or others will pick this up but the Rev. Rodney Trotter IS Carl Trueman. Rodney Trotter is one of the characters in the British comedy series "Only Fools and Horses . . ."

Yes, they put on some great

Yes, they put on some great conferences too. This book is more accessible than some of Trueman's more scholarly material. Since you like Chesterton and Lewis so much, I think you would love Trueman's wit and sense of humor, Tim.

Trueman's group, The Alliance

Trueman's group, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, has a wonderful storehouse of articles on their webiste. I've visited there when needing background on some theological/doctrinal issue. My wife even got to attend some lectures given by Dr. John Hannah, a council member, at a BSF leadership conference. She raved about him for weeks.

I've tried reading Trueman before, but often get bogged down. Is this book more accessible than some of his more densely packed articles?


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