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Review: Killing Us Softly 3rd March, 2017

Posted by Scotty in Books.

efremI was glad to get my hands on a copy of Killing Us Softly by Efrem Smith.

Efrem has written a solid yet provocative book about discipleship, and I enjoy the way he goes about it. The premise is straightforward—we are dying. Sin is killing us. In fact, “sin does more than just kill us. It also seeks to kill others through us” (p6). Yet “God is doing the same, but the death he brings us through is in service to the new life he has for us” (p55). We thus have a choice: we become agents of death by partnering with sin, or we allow God to kill us softly and make us agents of His transforming power.

He is honest in expressing the danger we live under as Christians, that even though we have been rescued by God “it’s still possible to participate in upside-down corporate practices” (p20) and thereby damage others. His book is a call to live thinkingly, considering the various ways we partner will fallen systems and ignorantly bring pain to others.

One insightful yet penetrating quote says,

“You can be a very wise Christian and do damage to your household, business, church, or community because you refuse to acknowledge the things in your heart that need to die. We must be willing to allow God to do soul surgery on us” (p76).

#Ouch #SoTrue

Smith balances the tension between personal inner transformation and the call to be involved in public transformation. He draws attention to the “upside-down trinity”—”broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems and structures” (p27) which work together to damage communities. With this in mind he calls us to allow God to work his transformation in us; but to go on to become agents of transformation in the broken systems we have created. He firmly believes, and argues compellingly that “the Kingdom of God transforms every life, community, and system it enters” (p160). And we are the instruments God wants to use to bring this transformation.

Efrem is a needed voice in a field saturated by white middle class men (myself included!). He gives us pause for thought when he writes,

“Conferences and books focused on planting churches, doing outreach, developing models of discipleship, and engaging justice include inherent assumptions that the reader is part of a priviledged class. It’s as if the poor have nothing to offer when it comes to advancing the Kingdom of God” (p152-3).

Killing Us Softly is a welcome contribution, reminding us that the inner transformation of a disciple is ultimately for the benefit of others. We must take care in our zeal to understand discipleship that we don’t turn it into a white middle class endeavor. Jesus, who himself was born into poverty, chose ordinary unschooled men to launch the church around the world. We’d do well to remember these roots and strive to challenge the systems (the church included) that provide barriers to the Gospel, and to the flourishing of our brothers and sisters.

An easy read.
A simple yet provocative articulation of the Gospel.
And a compelling vision for community transformation.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)


1. Charlie - 4th March, 2017

Sounds brilliant – thanks for the challenge even just contained in your review…it’s where my heart wants more and more to be….

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