The Barbarian Way: book review

The Barbarian Way: 2 out of 4 stars
Erwin Raphael Mcmanus

Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 10, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785264329
ISBN-13: 978-0785264323

I was pretty excited about reading this book. After hearing and reading great reviews of it and Mcmanus being on the cusp of the “emerging” church I thought this would be a good one.

Sadly I wasn’t very impressed with it. I like the concept, but i think the title is a big issue. He calls for us to go back to our barbarian form of Christianity. The only problem with that is the def of a barbarian is:

bar·bar·i·an [bahr-bair-ee-uhn] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation –noun

1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
2. a person without culture, refinement, or education; philistine.
3. (loosely) a foreigner.
4. (in ancient and medieval periods)

a. a non-Greek.
b. a person living outside, esp. north of, the Roman Empire.
c. a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
5. (among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.


6. uncivilized; crude; savage.
7. foreign; alien.

I don’t think this is exactly what he was going for. I think we do need to be a people much like the original church fathers and like John the baptist. Not necessarily barbarians, but more so zealous for Christ and zealous for the furthering of His kingdom.

There are some great points in this book. The closer we are to Christ the harder the sacrifice.

The big issue is while there are great points if you took out the unneeded repetition you are left with a 40 page book.

I do recommend this book because the points he does make I think are dead on about starting a new fire in the church with creativity and openness and zealousness. Just keep in mind that you may find yourself jumping over sections.


9 responses to “The Barbarian Way: book review”

  1. Darren Avatar

    Thank you for expressing my exact feelings on the book. It had some helpful insights, but it rambled. And I don’t agree at all with the author that civilization is a bad thing.

    I think part of the problem for me reading it was that he used John the Baptist’s dressing in a leather belt and living in the desert as an example on barbarianism/non-conformism. He completely missed the fact that this was recognized as prophetic dress in Israel, much as we would recognize a “backwards collar” as a clergy outfit.

  2. klampert Avatar

    exactly…Sadly I felt…great points…and i have heard the sermon (dvd) of this is great, but this book seemed like “oh man Ive got 160 pages to fill…mmmm…I guess Ill say that again”

    good point about john the baptist

  3. mudpuppy Avatar

    I’m completely sold on the Barbarian Way.

    I first watched the DVD with my small group. Then I ran out and read the book. Then I bought every other book by Erwin. Then I subscribed to his weekly podcast. Other than my dad, he’s my all time favorite speaker/author.

    IMHO, this dude gets it on a level that very few do. He’s one of the main reasons I am what I am today. No more churchy facades for me. I’m striving to be the most authentic (barbaric?) Christ follower I know.

    …but that’s just me. 🙂

  4. klampert Avatar

    like i said…great message…really it was..and I am looking forward to reading another book by him this week..soul cravings…
    It was on a level that could be understood by somebody without a theology degree for sure…
    It just seemed that it was 100 pages too long. His main idea and purpose really were summed up in the first 40 pages.

    I am also going to check out the DVD of it soon

  5. mommablogger Avatar

    My husband wanted me to read it, thinking that it might help me with all the boys we have running around the house. He told me one of the stories about how the father encouraged his son to jump off the roof, which I thought was interesting. I liked what he said about creating a certain fearlessness in the boys, although I don’t know if I can handle any of that kind 🙂 I will get around to reading it eventually, but thanks for the review.

  6. klampert Avatar

    yeah…I think fearlessness is ok, but with my boys I think sometimes common sense is as well.

    Fearlessness and being zeaouls are good traits, but only within the scope of what Christ calls us to do. Think about peter cutting off the soldiers ear

  7. outre Avatar

    I agree that there were many instances where the book repeated itself, though on a topic such as this, where it can be a potential catalyst for change, repetition can be essential in terms of keeping the message locked into memory. 🙂

  8. […] The Barbarian Way: book review Posted on July 16, 2007 by klampert this is also posted on my blog, but I think people who read this site will benefit from it as well […]

  9. Carole Turner Avatar

    I don’t think I could disagree more with your review. This book is number 2 on my all time favorite books, only after The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

    It changed my life. I am now rereading it for the 3rd time. It motivates and inspires me to live for Jesus ONLY and not get caught up in what others think.

    I pray to be a Barbarian.

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