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The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

February 24, 2010

Mark Sayers is an Australian pastor and young adult ministry worker. As such, he certainly has his finger on the pulse of the culture. While he is Australia and I am in the United States (and the Southeast, in particular), his analysis is spot on. He uses the phrase “the vertical self” to describe the way God created and intended for us to view our self. In contrast, he uses the term “the horizontal self” to describe how most in today’s culture view self, or more appropriately image instead of self.

As humans, we were created in God’s own image. The accurate view or our self would be as an imperfect reflection of God. As believers, we should see ourselves this way to a larger degree. In our modern, or postmodern, culture, this self has been replaced with a cultural image of “cool” or “sexy” that we try to reflect from the culture around. One area where he spends a great deal of time is holiness. This is often a neglected topic among the current generation of church leaders. He addresses it well and appropriately.

On balance, I agree with Sayers conclusions. In the last couple of chapters, he describes a view of God’s kingdom here and to come. He is clearly part of the emerging church. He is endorsed by the folks involved with Emergent, which makes me somewhat skeptical. But he does not seem to fall into most of the traps that they do, at least in this book.

Overall, I think this is a pretty good book that helps remind us of the proper way to view ourselves in light of the creation and our redemption. It is an easy read that is pretty easy to digest. I would recommend it, especially for leaders who minister among young adults.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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