Blue Like Jazz

I haven’t read this book by Donald Miller, but I’m getting tired of being able to predict what a negative Reformed book review from a Reformed will always sound like.

When a book is rather one-sided, why not praise what is good about it and then recommend other perspectives? Given the fact that the reviewer seemed unable to produce evidence of anything rising to the level of false teaching, I think that would be both more responsible and more profitable for all involved.

In any case, here is the Internet Monk’s review. There are also responses from the Boar’s Head Tavern. The 9marks review is first mentioned here, and then we get further response here, which leads to this rant.

I think it is all worth reading, though I’m still on the fence over whether I need to pick up Miller’s book. Frankly, I’m picking up a “we be cool” vibe from it that sets me on edge.

For me, the operating principle is, “Don’t go around cleaning other messes when your own back yard needs work.” Evangelicalism, I will guess, has probably a few worse books than Millers–even if Millers book were twice as bad as what the 9marks review claims. I doubt Evangelicalism is being damaged. Whatever might (or might not) need to be augmented in Miller’s book, is not nearly as threatening to the future of Reformed Christendom as the level of tribalism now affecting it.

6 thoughts on “Blue Like Jazz

  1. Garrett

    I read it and dug it. It took me a year to pick it up because the guy that reccomended it to me was a slouchy pomo kind of guy. But that was because I was too shrewd, too smart, too reformed to read such trash. But you know what? It got me more prepared to deal with real peeps out in Cali than perhaps any other book I’ve read here at Covenant Seminary. Sorry, it just did.

  2. The Native Tourist

    I read the book about three months ago. Miller is a great writer. Spellbinding at times. It is an easy read. I think the book’s accessability along with some excellent stories are which make it so compelling. I found its theology fairly thin.

  3. Jeff

    Pastor Horne,

    If you are interested, I have a copy of Miller’s book that I will package up and send to you for free. I bought a copy when a friend asked me to read it several months ago. I passed it on to one of my church’s elders and he has just returned it but I have no more use for it. You can contact me at and I’ll get it out to you.

  4. David

    Mark – this is David Wayne from the Jollyblogger.

    The only thing I would add here is that Blue Like Jazz is deep into our reformed backyard and our PCA backyard, so I do think we need to read and respond to it.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t done so, but hope to in the future.

  5. Mark Horne

    David, you might be right, but I need to see an argument. The fact that we Reformed are willing to read books outside our tradition does not automatically mean something is amiss or that we are embracing the book’s errors (if there are any). What are we taking away from it. Does the popularity of the book mean that any errors in it are spreading? Or does it mean that they are being discounted as implausible.

    I was positively encouraged to read outside my tradition at my seminary.


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