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Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

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Overview

Our generation needs a reformation.
But a single person won’t lead it.
A single event won’t define it.
Our reformation will be a ...
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Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

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Overview

Our generation needs a reformation.
But a single person won’t lead it.
A single event won’t define it.
Our reformation will be a movement of reformers living creatively, compassionately, courageously for the cause of Christ.
 
This reformation will not be born of a new discovery.  It will be the rediscovery of something old, something ancient. 
 
Something primal.
 
Mark Batterson, Primal
 
What would your Christianity look like if it was stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible? You would have more, not less. You would have the beginning of a new reformation—in your generation, your church, your own soul. You would have primal Christianity.
 
This book is an invitation to become part of a reformation movement. It is an invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago. It is an invitation to be astonished again.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Mark weaves us through the Great Commandment with insights that are both winsome and wise, piquing both curiosity and conviction. He calls us to a discipleship free of the trappings of shriveled self-concern, drawing us to give ourselves, with abandon, to others as we heed Jesus’ call to love God above all. This book will fuel clarity of call and persevering strength for those who will journey in obedience to the Gospel—in its wholeness of justice, mercy, and faithfulness—for a lifetime.”
GARY HAUGEN, president and CEO of International Justice Mission and author of Good News About Injustice, Terrify No More, and Just Courage
 
“Too many of us are doing life at an unsustainable pace and losing sight of our first love. In his new book, Primal, Mark Batterson invites you to rediscover the reality of Christ and His passions. This book will challenge you, push you, and stretch you. You will walk away righteously aggravated, but catapulted into action.”
CRAIG GROESCHEL, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv
 
“Mark, I’m with you. It’s time for believers to be more. Let’s hear the voice of God and be that holy, passionate fire that we are called to be. It’s the primal way.”
SHAUN ALEXANDER, 2005 NFL MVP, acclaimed speaker, and author of award-winning book Touch Down Alexander

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601423573
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/2/2010
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 333,720
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. www.markbatterson.com

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Two Thousand Stairs
 
The farther backward you look, the further forward you are likely to see.
—WINSTON CHURCHILL
 
 
We hopped on a double-decker bus and headed toward the heart of Rome. Lora and I had spent a year planning the trip, but nothing prepares you to stand in the very place where Caesars ruled an empire or gladiators battled to the death. As we walked the Via Sacra, we were stepping on the same two-thousand-year-old stones that conquering armies marched on. Of course, I’m guessing they weren’t licking gelatos. Our three days in the Eternal City went by far too fast. And I wish we hadn’t waited until our fifteenth anniversary to take the trip.
 
Few places on earth are as historic or romantic as Rome. We thoroughly enjoyed strolling the ancient streets, people-watching in the piazzas, and eating leisurely meals at sidewalk cafés. And like good tourists, we also hit all the must-see travel-book destinations. We threw pennies over our shoulders into the Trevi Fountain, enjoyed an unplugged concert by an electric guitarist outside the Colosseum one moonlit evening, and took a three-hour tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. And all the sites lived up to their travel-book billing. But one of the unexpected highlights of our trip was an unplanned visit to a rather nondescript church off the beaten path. It wasn’t referenced in our travel guides. And if it hadn’t been right around the corner from our hotel, we would never have discovered it. The Church of San Clemente was named after the fourth pope, who was martyred for his faith. According to legend, anchors were tied around his ankles and he was thrown into the Black Sea.
 
From the outside, the church appeared weather-beaten and timeworn. But the frescoes, statues, and altars on the inside were remarkably well preserved. We quietly explored every nook and cranny of that twelfth-century church. Then we discovered that for five extra euros we could take an underground tour. As was the case with many of the ruins we visited in Rome, there were several layers of history in the same place. The Romans had a habit of building things on top of things. Some emperors, for example, would tear down their predecessor’s palace and build their own palace right on top of it. Such was the case with the Church of San Clemente. The twelfth-century church was built over a fourth-century church. And beneath the fourth-century church were catacombs where second-century Christians secretly worshiped God before the legalization of Christianity by Constantine in 313.
 
I’ll never forget my descent down that flight of stairs. The air became damp, and we could hear underground springs. We carefully navigated each step as we lost some of our light. And our voices echoed off the low ceiling and narrow walkway. Almost like the wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia, that flight of stairs was like a portal to a different time, a different place. It was as if those stairs took us back two thousand years in time. With each step, a layer of history was stripped away until all that was left was Christianity in all its primal glory.
 
As we navigated those claustrophobic catacombs, I was overcome by the fact that I was standing in a place where my spiritual ancestors risked everything, even their lives, to worship God. And I felt a profound mixture of gratitude and conviction. I live in a first-world country in the twenty-first century. And I’m grateful for the freedoms and blessings I enjoy because of where and when I live. But when you’re standing in an ancient catacomb, the comforts you enjoy make you uncomfortable. The things you complain about are convicting. And some of the sacrifices you’ve made for the cause of Christ might not even qualify under a second century definition.
 
As I tried to absorb the significance of where I was, I couldn’t help but wonder if our generation has conveniently forgotten how inconvenient it can be to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have diluted the truths of Christianity and settled for superficialities. I couldn’t help but wonder if we have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors practiced.
 
Over the last two thousand years, Christianity has evolved in lots of ways. We’ve come out of the catacombs and built majestic cathedrals with all the bells and steeples. Theologians have given us creeds and canons. Churches have added pews and pulpits, hymnals and organs, committees and liturgies. And the IRS has given us 501(c)(3) status. And there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. But none of those things is primal. And I wonder, almost like the Roman effect of building  things on top of things, if the accumulated layers of Christian traditions and institutions have unintentionally obscured what lies beneath.
 
I’m not suggesting that we categorically dismiss all those evolutions as unbiblical. Most of them are simply abiblical. There aren’t precedents for them in Scripture, but they don’t contradict biblical principles either. I’m certainly not demonizing postmodern forms of worship. After all, the truth must be reincarnated in every culture in every generation. And I am personally driven by the conviction that there are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. But two thousand years of history raises this question: when all of the superficialities are stripped away, what is the primal essence of Christianity?
 
In the pages that follow, I want you to descend that flight of stairs with me. I want us to go underground. I want us to go back in time. Think of it as a quest for the lost soul of Christianity. And by the time you reach the last page, I hope you will have done more than rediscover Christianity in its most primal form. I hope you will have gone back to the primal faith you once had. Or more accurately, the primal faith that once had you.
 
THE FAR SIDE OF COMPLEXITY
My kids are at that stage in their mathematical journey where they are learning about prime numbers. That means that, as a parent, I am relearning about prime numbers (along with every other math concept I have long since forgotten). A prime number is a number that is divisible only by itself and the number 1. And while an infinitude of prime numbers exists, the only even prime is the number 2.
 
Certain truths qualify as prime truths. Bible-believing, God-fearing, Christ-loving Christians will disagree about a variety of doctrinal issues until Jesus returns, whether that be pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation. That is why we have hundreds of different denominations. But prime truths have an indivisible quality to them. And chief among them—the even prime, if you will—is what Jesus called the most important commandment. We call it the Great Commandment. It could also be called the Primal Commandment because it is of first importance.
 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.1
 
Jesus was a genius. He had the ability to simplify complex spiritual truths in unforgettable and irrefutable ways. I’m afraid we tend to do the opposite. We complicate Christianity. That religious tendency to overcomplicate simple spiritual truths traces all the way back to a sect of Judaism known as the Pharisees. Over the span of hundreds of years, the Pharisees compiled a comprehensive list of religious dos and don’ts. Six hundred and thirteen, to be exact.2 Jesus peeled them back with one primal statement. When all of the rules and regulations, all of the traditions and institutions, all of the liturgies and methodologies are peeled back, what’s left is the Great Commandment. It is Christianity in its most primal form.
 
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? If only it were as simple as it sounds.
 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, former chief justice of the Supreme Court, once made a perceptive distinction between two kinds of simplicity: simplicity on the near side of complexity and simplicity on the far side of complexity. He said, “I would not give a fig for simplicity on the near side of complexity.”
 
Many Christians settle for simplicity on the near side of complexity. Their faith is only mind deep. They know what they believe, but they don’t know why they believe what they believe. Their faith is fragile because it has never been tested intellectually or experientially. Near-side Christians have never been in the catacombs of doubt or suffering, so when they encounter questions they cannot answer or experiences they cannot explain, it causes a crisis of faith. For far-side Christians, those who have done their time in the catacombs of doubt or suffering, unanswerable questions and unexplainable experiences actually result in a heightened appreciation for the mystery and majesty of a God who does not fit within the logical constraints of the left brain. Near-side Christians, on the other hand, lose their faith before they’ve really found it.
 
Simplicity on the near side of complexity goes by another name: spiritual immaturity. And that’s not the kind of simplicity I’m advocating. God calls us to simplicity on the far side of complexity. For that matter, He calls us to faith on the far side of doubt, joy on the far side of sorrow, and love on the far side of anger. So how do we get there? Well, there are no easy answers or quick fixes. It involves unlearning and relearning everything we know. It involves deconstructing and reconstructing everything we do. It involves the painstaking process of rediscovering and reimagining the primal essence of Christianity. But the result is simplicity on the far side of complexity. And that is where this flight of stairs will take us if we have the courage to go underground.
 
THE PRIMAL PROBLEM
It goes without saying that Christianity has a perception problem. At the heart of the problem is the simple fact that Christians are more known for what we’re against than what we’re for. But the real problem isn’t perception. We as Christians are often quick to point out what’s wrong with our culture. And we certainly need the moral courage to stand up for what’s right in the face of what’s wrong. I live in the bastion of political correctness, where it is wrong to say that something is wrong. And that’s wrong.  If we have to choose between political correctness and biblical correctness, we must choose biblical correctness every time. But before confronting what’s wrong with our culture, we need to be humble enough, honest enough, and courageous enough to repent of what’s wrong with us.
 
I pastor a church in Washington DC that is nearly 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Unfortunately, our demographics are an anomaly. By and large, twenty-somethings are leaving the church at an alarming rate. According to some statistics, 61 percent of twenty-somethings who grew up going to church will quit going to church in their twenties.3 And the temptation is to ask this question: what’s wrong with this generation? But that is the wrong question. The right question is this: what’s wrong with the church?
 
My answer is simply this: we’re not great at the Great Commandment. In too many instances, we’re not even good at it.
 
That, I believe, is our primal problem. That is the lost soul of Christianity. If Jesus said that loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is the most important commandment, then doesn’t it logically follow that we ought to spend an inordinate amount of our time and energy trying to understand it and obey it? We can’t afford to be merely good at the Great Commandment. We’ve got to be great at the Great Commandment.
 
The quest for the lost soul of Christianity begins with rediscovering what it means to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus used those four kaleidoscopic words to describe four dimensions of love. And there is certainly overlap among them. It’s hard to know where loving God with your heart ends and loving God with your soul begins. But one thing is sure: loving God in one way isn’t enough. It’s not enough to love God with just your heart or soul or mind or strength. We are called, even commanded, to love Him in all four ways. Think of it as love to the fourth power.
 
So the quest begins with rediscovery. But it ends with reimagination. Some truths can be deduced via left-brain logic. Others are better induced via right-brain imagination. Love falls into the latter category. So what follows is not a strict exposition of the Great Commandment. It’s a reimagination of the four primal elements detailed by Jesus in the Great Commandment:
 
The heart of Christianity is primal compassion.
The soul of Christianity is primal wonder.
The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity.
And the strength of Christianity is primal energy.
 
 
The descent down this flight of stairs into primal Christianity will be convicting at points, but the end result will be a renewed love for God that is full of genuine compassion, infinite wonder, insatiable curiosity, and boundless energy. Anything less is not enough. It’s not just unfulfilling, it’s also unfaithful. The quest is not complete until it results in catacomb-like convictions that go beyond conventional logic. The goal is a love that, as our spiritual ancestors understood, is worth living for and dying for.
 
THE WAY FORWARD
My aim in this book is to take you to new places intellectually and spiritually so that you discover new ways of loving God. But I also hope this book takes you back to a primal place where God loved you and you loved God. And that’s all that mattered.
 
I’ve discovered that when I’ve lost my way spiritually, the way forward is often backward. That is what we experience when we celebrate Communion, isn’t it? Communion is a pilgrimage back to the foot of the cross. And going back to that most primal place helps us find our way forward. So before going forward, let me encourage you to go backward. Go back to that place where God opened your eyes and broke your heart with compassion for others. Go back to that place where the glory of God flooded your soul and left you speechless with wonder. Go back to that place where thoughts about God filled your mind with holy curiosity. Go back to that place where a God-given dream caused a rush of adrenaline that filled you with supernatural energy.
 
Every year our entire church staff goes on a pilgrimage to the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. During one of the sessions this past year, our team was sitting in the balcony of the Gwinnett Center listening to my friend and the pastor of LifeChurch.tv, Craig Groeschel. And he asked this question: “Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?”
 
I felt a tremendous sense of conviction when Craig asked that question. As I sat in that balcony, surrounded by twelve thousand other leaders, I heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit said to my spirit in His kind yet convicting voice, Mark, what happened to the college kid who used to pace the chapel balcony seeking My face?
 
There are few things I hate more or appreciate more than the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is so painful. But it is so necessary. And I’m so grateful that God loves me enough to break me where I need to be broken. Can I make an observation? You cannot listen to just half of what the Holy Spirit has to say. It’s a package deal. If you aren’t willing to listen to everything He has to say, you won’t hear anything He has to say. If you tune out His convicting voice, you won’t hear His comforting voice or guiding voice either. As I was seated in that balcony, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the raw spiritual intensity I once had. He revealed how calloused my heart had become. And I realized that I had somehow lost my soul while serving God. And it wrecked me.
 
Does your heart break for the things that break the heart of God?
 
If it doesn’t, you need to repent. And that’s what I did that day. Our team is typically the first to hit the exit after the last session at conferences because, quite frankly, the first one to the restaurant wins. And we had reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, P.F. Chang’s. Love their lettuce wraps and spare ribs. I could almost taste them. But we couldn’t leave until we brought closure to what God was doing in the depths of our souls. So we delayed our reservation, found a conference room, and spent some time crying, confessing, and praying as a team. I think we were the last ones to leave the auditorium.
 
In the providence of God, I happened to be scheduled to speak at my alma mater in Springfield, Missouri, the next week. So a few days later I found myself in the chapel balcony where I had logged hundreds of hours pacing back and forth seeking God. It was during prayer times in that balcony when my heart began to break for the things that break the heart of God. It was there that God began to shape my soul to seek Him. It was there that God began to fill my mind with God ideas. It was in that balcony that God energized me by giving me a God-sized vision for my life.
 
Returning to that chapel balcony fifteen years later, I realized that in many ways I had become a paid professional Christian. My heart didn’t beat as strongly as it once did. My pulse didn’t quicken in the presence of God like it once had. So God took me back to a very primal place. And the Holy Spirit lovingly reminded me that the college kid with a huge heart for God was still somewhere inside me. I knew that getting back what I once had meant getting back to basics. It meant doing what I had once done. It meant rediscovering and reimagining what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And somewhere along the way, in my personal quest for my lost soul, I found it. Climbing those stairs into that chapel balcony was like descending those stairs into that ancient catacomb. God gave me back the compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy I once had, along with an even greater appreciation for what I had lost and found.
 
Is there a personal catacomb somewhere in your past? A place where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke with compassion? A place where your soul was filled with wonder? A place where your mind was filled with holy curiosity? A place where you were energized by a God-ordained dream? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. And you swore you’d never be the same again. Or maybe it was a dream or a vow or a decision you made at an altar. My prayer is that this book will take you down two thousand stairs back to that primal place—the place where loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all that matters.
 
The quest for the lost soul of Christianity begins there.
 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

1 Two Thousand Stairs 1

Part 1 The Heart of Christianity

2 The Tribe of the Transplanted 15

3 A Drop in the Bucket 30

Part 2 The Soul of Christianity

4 The Island of the Colorblind 49

5 Seventy Faces 70

Part 3 The Mind of Christianity

6 Holy Curiosity 89

7 One God Idea 109

Part 4 The Strength of Christianity

8 Sweat Equity 133

9 The Hammer of a Higher God 151

10 The Next Reformation 167

Notes 172

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 114 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 114 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Primal - a review

    http://stevecorn.com/wordpress/2009/12/primal-a-book-review/

    Inspired by a trip down a staircase which descended into ancient catacombs, Mark Batterson encourages Christians to be great at the Great Commandment! There, beneath the layers of 2000 years of Christianity and tradition, he imagined the ancient primal form of the Christian faith. In Primal, he takes the reader back in time and reminds him/her of the essentials of the faith. Centering on the Great Commandment (Mk 12:30), Batterson acts as a tour guide exploring the depths of genuine compassion, infinite wonder, insatiable curiosity, and boundless energy - the very ideas that sparked the first-century movement and exploded into the modern Christian faith. Hidden by 2000 years of tradition, Batterson leads the reader to rediscover and reclaim the power within them. Primal uncovers the greatness of the Great Commandment and calls the reader to join the primal force which is revealed by it's convictions.

    Primal is a very interesting read. Batterson has become a great writer and is a master at weaving together personal stories, Scriptural examples, psychological research, and scientific evidence. He also knows how to turn a phrase. Here are some of my favorites:

    We're not great at the Great Commandment.

    It's much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one.

    You can give without loving, but you can not love without giving.

    The mind is educated with facts, but the soul is educated with beauty and mystery. And the curriculum is creation.

    Conclusion: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reclaiming the Christian faith and pursuing with abandon the Great Commandment. Primal is absolutely the first book you should read in 2010.

    More info: www.theprimalmovement.com

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Christian History Applicable to Today

    Wonderful reminder of what the 1st century Christians faced with their strong faith. Christians around the world are being persecuted. Christians in the west need to understand the foundations of our faith because we may face persecution soon enough. Batterson takes us back to the strong faith needed for 1st century believers. Great book to use the history of the Christian faith and apply it to today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    This is a must read!!!

    This is such a life changing book! It is a must read for any Christian that is looking to dig deeper and closer to the Lord. Primal A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson is broken down into four parts: The Heart of Christianity, the Soul of Christianity, the Mind of Christianity, and the Strength of Christianity. Batterson really connects with his readers and challenges them to reach for new heights and live out the "God ideas" that can be found when we listen to the Holy Spirit. He wants his audience to go past just the knowledge of Jesus to really putting into practice living for Christ by making sacrifices and truly being disciples of Jesus. Primal is a book that will push you out of your comfort zone and push you to live and focus more on Jesus. One of my favorite quotes from the book is "We must not be great at things that do not matter. We have to be great at what matters most. And what matters most is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Batterson 169). Go ahead and read this book. I dare you to! Step out of your comfort zone and do something that truly matters. I was given this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    A good kick in the butt

    *Primal* is kin to *Radical* by David Platt. It addresses the mainstream christian culture but while Radical is directed mainly towards the actions of Americanized christians as being half-hearted, Primal draws more attention to the heart and spiritual state of the same.

    Primal draws attention to the sickening conditions of our heart, our lack of longing for true knowledge of God, our lack of compassion for other people, and our inability to see God in the world around us. He begins the book with a call to adventure, the quest being, "the place where loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is all that matters" (Batterson, 11). I had to ask myself, "How much of my day is concerned with REALLY loving God? What does that even mean?
    If you wonder the same thing, this book might hold some answers.

    Batterson continues through the book to describe what it means to really love God. From having heart-felt compassion-"compassion is the ultimate apologetic"- to love of nature. This resonated with me, I myself love the outdoors. And he equated that to loving God with your soul- by loving what he made and what he too valued.

    Overall, a must read for anyone who is thinking, "I want more of God."

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    When one becomes "ready" the universe deliver what is needed. However, the choice is totally up to the individual. So the question is "I'm I ready for more truth?" The scripture says...the truth will set you free. However, freedom COSTS. Possibly the sum of our believes that we have knitted ourselves to. In my opinion one of the GREATEST mistakes ever mde is equating spiritual maturity with knowledge acquisition. HEAD knowledge will NEVER pass the true test. Only HEART knowledge will. Truth be told many of us are already educated way beyond the level of our obedience. This is what we do...learn more and do less!

    Do not merely listen to word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his facee in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes way and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the amn who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

    This book takes a stripped down look @ Christianity without all the "stuff" we have added to it. Doing so once again rekindels a compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy that can literally once again turn the world right side up.


    I received this book for free from Waterbrookmultnomah for blogging

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  • Posted July 26, 2011

    A Quest For the Lost Soul of Christianity

    We need to get back to the basic's is a line from a PCD song and this is what Mark Batterson writes of in his book PRIMAL. Primal means first, orginal, chief and that what we as Christians need to do to get back to the original first century Christianity. This is accomplished by rediscovering the compassion, the wonder (of God), our creative birthright, and the strength (hard work) that the first century Christians possessed
    According to the Author our Primal problem is that we Christians aren't great at the Great Commandment, most times were not even good at it, and this is the Lost Soul of Christianity which we need to get back to. We need to ask the question What's wrong with the church and what things do we need to give up in order to regain our first century roots.
    The core question the church needs to ask is: Does our heart break for the things that break the heart of God? How we answer this question determines how primal we become or how much further we have to go. Lets get back to the basics and focus on the things that break God's heart.
    Mr. Batterson shows us how to do it in this book, where he discusses the Heart, Soul, Mind, and heart of Christianity and how we complicate Christianity much like the Pharisees did.
    I received this book from Waterbrook Publishing Group for this review If you liked his book IN A PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY you will like this one also.

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  • Posted July 19, 2011

    Getting to the root of Christianity

    Primal is a book about getting to the deepest part of Christianity. Pastor Mark of National Community Church in the DC area has written Primal with a thinking outside the box mentality. He challenges his readers to not settle for the same old way of expressing their faith. An example he gives is extending your giving to a cause you have a heart for and planning your finances around your giving rather than your giving being mere leftovers that are an after thought. A cause example he gave is sponsoring a child in a third world country. Another idea he gave is to discover God ideas, which are ideas God puts on your heart that you think seem impossible, but as we know nothing is impossible with God. Mr. Batterson also talks about how the coming reformation needs to be stepping outside the usual way of being a Christian. His church for instance meets in a theater and their welcome packet looks like a bucket of popcorn. There are other ideas and points he makes regarding us returning to our primal form of Christianity.

    This book is very slim, but it packs a lot of wonderful insight. Mr. Batterson's church might be hip and modern, but there is even more meat to his ministry. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I was not in the mood for a Christian fluff book. Thankfully it turned out not to be fluff. I received my free copy of Primal by Mark Batterson from Waterbrook/Multnomah Press for the strict purposes of posting a review. This is via their Blogging for Books program and my review is solely mine.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Primal (DVD-based study)

    Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson takes us back to the "purest form of Christianity." We all have a tendency to complicate Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible; but He made it simple in Mark 12:30- "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Each segment of this study leaves you with a thought-provoking question about your faith. The chapters of the DVD are split up to go along with the book (though I have not read it). Chapters 2-10 focusing on heart, soul, mind, and strength. Mark's communication skills, effects in filming, and music will definitely keep your attention. Though I felt like the segments were finished too quickly it was an amazing study, and I would definitely recommend this to study groups or personal study.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    Back to Basics

    As always, Mark Batterson does it again. I have long enjoyed his writing and the way it can not only help you but enables a group to come together and study and better itself.
    Batterson on the commandment that Jesus repeated and used to sum it all up- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. In a world that has perhaps made following Jesus much too complicated, Batterson encourages us to come back to the basics. Taking our faith back to its most primal level.
    The reader/anyone that interacts with this study will appreciate Mark's sincerity, his common sense approach and also his transparency. It is easy to see that he isn't just going through the motions, but encouraging us to join him on a journey that is impacting him and others around him a great way. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions are my own.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Vintage Mark Batterson

    I am a fan of Mark Batterson. His previous works, SoulPrint, Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day area few of the book I love the most. I recently finished Batterson's new book, "Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity". A recent trip to Rome and an exploration of the catacombs brought Batterson face-to-face with one of the earliest Christian communities. This "rediscovery" as he calls it, of the primal beginnings of the faith changed the way he viewed Christianity. He begins by putting forth what he believes is the central problem facing the church today. His assessment is that the church is failing at the Great Commandment found in Mark 12:30, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment." In his words, "We can't afford to be merely good at the Great Commandment, we must be great at the Great Commandment". What follows is an unpacking of the Great Commandment where he breaks the book, and the Great Commandment, down into four central elements. Those elements are: the heart of Christianity is primal compassion, the soul of Christianity is primal wonder, the mind of Christianity is primal curiosity, and the strength of Christianity is primal energy. "Primal" is a challenge to rediscover the basic and driving forces behind the Christian faith. That most basic desire is to love Christ with all you have. This book is vintage Mark Batterson. It is written with an easy to follow style that is both addicting and challenging. I believe this book is Batterson's most practical book to date. "Primal" is both convicting and encouraging, passionate and practical. Two chapters each are given to unpack these four elements. Batterson uses a brilliant mixture of scripture, illustration, personal experience, and outside quotations to drive his point home. If your faith has become common place and academic, this book is for you. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Primal by Mark Batterson

    This book is an invitation to be part of something that is bigger than you, more important than you, and longer lasting than you. It's an invitation to be part of the next reformation. It's an invitation to be part of a primal movement that traces its origins all the way back to ancient catacombs where our spiritual ancestors were martyred because they loved God more than they loved life. ~ Mark Batterson

    Primal by Mark Batterson was birthed from a trip he made to Rome, visiting the catacombs, the place where the early church worshipped and hid during those primal days. Mark Batterson encourages us to return to those early days when we were curious and energized about our relationship with the Lord. He states, "My prayer is that this book will take you down two thousand stairs back to the primal place - the place when loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is all that matters."

    Primal is divided into four sections: The Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength of Christianity. One of my favorite parts was his telling of Joseph's compassion and how that one look saved an entire nation, and that our generosity can to create a ripple effect that will change history, and hearts. The author states throughout that if we love God, we will want to really get to know Him. He shares how he had to surrender that which robbed his time and energy in deepening his relationship with God.

    God is creative. Often we define creativity only in the realm of art. God thinks outside the box. The author encourages us to look for unique ways to minister, seek the Spirit of God, because one God idea can change history! Creativity also includes taking every thought captive, even our creative thoughts. Those ideas that pop into our minds should not be ignored, but acted upon, as inspiration from God.

    Mark Batterson believes that the next Reformation will not come from one man, but a generation. We must be great at the Great Commandment. We have to invest in people and things that have heavenly value. Simply, love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

    Mark Batterson writes like Jesus spoke, using parables. As one of my favorite authors, he hold my attention from beginning to end. His encouragement is doable and simply illustrated. I encourage every Christian who desires to return to those early days of their Christian walk to read this book! Purchase a copy for your pastor or church leaders. Included is a Discussion Guide which makes this an excellent tool for small group Bible study. The Primal way is the best way to live your life for the Lord. This tool will lead you down the stairs to your catacomb, to live in zeal because we love God more than we love life.

    The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011

    Primal by Mark Batterson

    Pirmal is an amazing book by Mark Batterson. The point of the book is to reclaim the "lost soul of Christianity". And in a very detailed manner Mr. Batterson shows us readers what the soul of christianity is. The soul of Christianity is Mark 12:30. Love the Lord with all your hear and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The author the devotes a section of the book to each part of the verse. He describles the heart of Christianity as compassion, the soul of Christianity as wonder, the mind of Christianity as curiosity, and the strength of Christianity as working. Each section has several chapters devoted it. The book is filled with examples of what happens when the soul of Christianity is alive in your life. But I will let you read then for your self. I agree with the authors view of Christianity. I have seen it in action. In the weeks after the tornado in Tuscaloosa I saw the soul of Christianity acted out in an amazing way. I worked at a chruch called Soma. I dont know what kind of chruch Soma is but what does it matter? They were right in the middle of the rubble of destroyed homes and lives. So they got right to work. They became a relief center. They did lots of work but the had a lot of help from other churches too. A holiness chruch group ran the kitchen, Catholics came up from the coast, and students from a Baptist school also helped show the love of God. They used their heart, soul, mind, and lots of strength. They had the soul of Christ in them. And it didnt matter that we disagreed on some things. We had found the lost soul of Christianity. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

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    "Primal" A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

    "Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity", by Mark Batterson, is a DVD based Bible Study which I found to be of great value. As it's title entails, as Christians look to where they are, they may find themselves searching for something more. Batterson does a wonderful job of narrating this DVD based study by breaking it down into section to look at and study. The sections which came to his mind came from Scripture. He chose Mark 12:28 - 30 "Love the Lord Your God with all your Heart and with all your Soul, and with all your Mind, and with all your Strength." Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength. Simple right? Maybe not. But it should be.

    As Batterson explains, all Christians when they, and this includes me, accepted God's gift and accepted His salvation, we accepted it with gladness and readiness. We didn't question nor did we challenge His Word or expectations.

    This became relevant, when Batterson and his wife were touring underground remains and finds while on a vacation, only to find that they were finding that they too may have developed a core or crust about the relationship with God. Batterson challenges us, through this study, to come back to the basics or "Primal" desires to commune with God.

    As each segment of the DVD presentation comes to a close, a provoking question or question is presented that will provide for interaction and study. There is also Scripture available for further study. This DVD based study can bring you back to your roots of coming to Christ. Thank You Mark, for pointing out that as Christians, we tend to over complicate Christianity, he has allowed us to look back to Jesus as He simplifies it. "Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

    At the end of the DVD study, a section is available known as Resources, where the listener/ attendee can go for further information and resources to follow up on their own or in a group. Again Thank You Mark Batterson for making this DVD. I know that it has already helped me to simplify my life through Christ again.

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  • Posted November 23, 2010

    Some very good take aways from this book.

    I enjoyed this book. He got a little techy and wordy in the middle (when talking about medical stuff that seemed to get very wordy and not very relevant), but the book had some very good and practicle take aways.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    In A Word....Amazing! Just Amazing!

    I'd also like to recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score" by R.A. Clark. It's revealing look at the power of forgiveness. If you ever felt trapped by anger, guilt, resentment and/or pain, then this book is for you.

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  • Posted February 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a work unpacking the Great Commandment.

    This is the authors best work.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Our goal as Christ-followers is simply not to be good at the great commandment, but to be great at it

    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."

    With this simple quote from Jesus Mark Batterson (no relation) begins to unpack what it might mean to really begin believing Jesus not just believing in Jesus. He invites us to cut away the politics and the unnecessary drapery (some of which is beautiful), and simply explore what following Jesus is in the simplest, rawest, purest form possible

    Primal takes you on a journey to rediscover the true meaning of the great commandment.

    Mark asserts "The truth is that most of us are already educated way beyond the level of our obedience." In essence he points out that we tend come up with a list of "dos" and "don'ts" and "OKs" and "not OKs" to show that we are different and hold that up to the world as Christianity.

    He also writes "I couldn't't help but wonder if we have diluted the truths of Christianity and settled for superficialities. I couldn't't help but wonder if we have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors practiced."

    Mark concludes that "Our goal as Christ-followers is simply not to be good at the great commandment, but to be great at it."


    He ends the book with an invitation to all people to become part of the next reformation movement. A reformation that consists of being "a part of something that is bigger than you, more important than you and longer lasting than you." It is an invitation to rediscover and rejoin the movement that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

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    A Must for Any Library

    I really enjoyed this book. A lot. Here's why:

    When I got PRIMAL in the mail, I was pretty skeptical. It had nothing to do with Mark Batterson; I deeply admire him and his team at National Community Church (and now that I run a coffee shop, we're taking notes pretty heavily from Ebenezer's!). No, I was skeptical because the subtitle of the book is "A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity".

    In the past two months, I have received from various leadership resource groups more than six different books with similar titles, including "Christian-ish", "Second-Hand Jesus", "Myth of the Christian Religion" and "Lost Gospel". The titles of these books all seem to indicate what I thought was a dying modernist obsession with getting back to 'original, pure Christianity' that was lost with the early Church and to which the Western Church as been striving to return since at least the time of the Reformers.

    And Batterson seemed to be no different; even his introduction hearkened back to the days when we met in catacombs, fearing for our lives. So while I tried to keep my mind open, I became increasingly skeptical.

    Until, that is, I got past the introduction.

    It turns out that PRIMAL is a reflection on living out the Great Commandment in 21st century America. The book is broken into four sections - Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength, and each section has a couple of chapters in which Batterson explores how we can better love God with each of those aspects of our personhood in our context.

    He doesn't spend any time at all exploring the ancient meanings of these words, devotes almost no time at all to asking "what did Jesus' original followers hear when he said this?" And that doesn't detract in the slightest from his work.

    PRIMAL is not a scholarly work. And at no point in the book did Batterson give me the impression that he's not done his homework. His reflections clearly emerge from the heart (and soul, and mind and strength) of a scholar and pastor. Each section is clearly articulated and chalked full of great, useful ideas for living out the answer to Batterson's central question: How do we live out the Great Commandment today, right now?

    Of course no book is perfect - I don't think that the "Strength" section is nearly as ::ahem:: strong as the other three sections, and I wish that Batterson had made the second half of the Great Commandment ("Love your neighbor as yourself") more explicit (though it's entirely implicit throughout the book).

    Long story short:

    This is a fantastic book. It deserves to be read, pondered and reread at least annually. Go get it!

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  • Posted December 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Cuts to the quick...

    Simplicity that explodes the mind.

    As was true, with Mark Batterson's previous book Wild Goose Chase, I found myself needing to camp out in each chapter in order to honestly assess my life.

    I can't wait to reread and see what God teaches me the second time around!

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A very basic book on christian core doctrines

    I recently saw Mark Batterson speak at a convention this year and as a pastor of a flourishing church, he draws a large audience. Similar to Erwin McManus, I believe Mark is becoming one of those sought after pastors - not because he is a great speaker or writer, but because he has had success in his ministry. Ironically success often has little to do with us or even with systems or new ideas - most often it comes from simply obeying God and staying true to his Kingdom. I had wanted to like Primal, I approached the book looking forward to reading it, but in the end it seemed like a lot of information that I had heard before from other pastors, read before in other books or even - ironically enough - preached myself!

    This book reads more like several sermons strung together and less like a book. Each chapter begins with a catchy story or example and is followed by supporting passages and never really gets that deep; and I am sure that it isn't supposed to. I believe Primal is meant to be a "basic" book of "core" tenants. Hence the title. The word, "Primal" draws images of original and ancient ideas. However, the sub title: A quest for the lost soul of Christianity? Hardly. Unless this was a very short quest. Primal only really focuses on one key verse, the shema repeated by Jesus in Luke 10:27, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" and then Mark follows by writing two chapters for each of the various qualifiers: heart, soul, mind and strength. But in the end it is a book of Sunday School answers: tithe, pray, read your bible and go to church. Basic? Yes. Primal? Kind of. It's more like a book on the Christian disciplines, but on a very very basic level. If you want a book on the disciplines there are scores better than this.

    On page 76, Mark says this: "sometimes I wish I could forget the entire bible and start from scratch..we've read the stories so many times that we are blind to the beauty." And I would agree. How much more excited would we get when we read that the tomb was empty Sunday morning? But I could also equate Mark's line to his own book. I feel like I have read these same words, heard them in sermons all before. Even a lot of the examples he uses are "old." [or at least old to someone who has read a lot of books and sat through a lot of sermons.]

    The book is nice and it's new and it's from an author and speaker a lot of people enjoy. But do we need a new book that has nothing new to say? I don't know..

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