Koessler, John. The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2016. 176 pp. $16.00. Purchase for less or on Kindle at Amazon.
Let’s be honest, we all struggle with finding the balance between productivity in the work place and actually taking serious the third commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. That is, we struggle to rest in world that has become busy 24/7. John Koessler is chair and professor of pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute.
John lays a biblical foundation of rest in the character of God throughout the first three chapters. In the fourth chapter, he explains what false rest pretends to be and what it truly is. Hint: the biblical word for false rest is “sloth.” The remainder of the book seeks to shift the reader’s paradigm on what genuine rest looks like.
Chapter six looks at worship as rest while chapter seven looks at rest in the digital age. Eight offers a lesson on rest and our future. Chapter nine looks at the ultimate final rest – death. In a mere nine chapters, The Pursuit of Rest attempts a biblical theology of rest.
As a pastor of a rural congregation, a father of five children, and a husband to one wife, I seek to understand as much about rest as I can from solid, biblically-rich sources. When this book came across my desk, I was excited to dig into it. John seeks to introduce the need to reconceive our understanding of what genuine rest is and what it is not.
In the main chapters, he seems light on scriptural references though it is abundantly clear that his theology is rooted in Scripture. It is not until you begin reading the questions for group discussion found at the back of the book that you begin to see explicit use of Scripture. That is not to say that there are not Scriptural references throughout the book and is not necessarily a criticism. By the end of the book, the reader will have a better understanding of the need for biblical rest even in those crazy seasons of life where rest only seems to be available to those who die.
The one caution I do have is the apparent mysticism influences. He quotes heavily from Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher who was a forerunner to the Neo-Thomistic philosophy. These were those Catholics who revived the influence of the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
Regardless, John offers a solid treatment of the theology of rest that will, at the very least, help the reader begin to wrestle with authentic rest in his or her own life.
Understanding the danger that mysticism poses to a solid biblical theology aside, I found much upon which to meditate in The Pursuit of Rest. I have been searching for a theological and practical treatment of rest that is biblically rooted and practical in our day and age. I believe I have found that here. I recommend this resource to any discerning Christian wanting to better understand rest and the importance of rest for the Christian.