What if God wanted to radically shift your perception of Him?
Beyond Religion: 400 Kingdom Perspectives by W. A. Vega is the second book in her series The Adventures of A. Soul. I have not read the first volume, but after reading this one, it is on my “eventually TBR” list.
It’s always a little disorienting coming into a series in the middle. However, this book promised to function as a stand alone, and aside from the introduction it did so successfully. In fact, it seemed almost like a supplement to the story of the first book, as far as I can tell. I was concerned while reading the introduction that the book would not make much sense without having read the first volume, and I would cautiously recommend that anyone who picks up this one without previously reading the first should skip the introduction altogether. (I know, a few of my professors probably want to disown me after reading that sentence.)
This series has a John Bunyan feel to it. The protagonist, who only shows up in the introduction of the second volume, is A. Soul; even the name is reminiscent of Bunyan’s Christian. A. Soul is more like an anecdotal example than a developed character: her actions are mentioned briefly, but the majority of the book is interactive and personalized to the reader.
Following the introduction, Vega poses 400 “What if” questions relating to the Bible, God, and how an individual’s belief in Him and interpretation of His word intersects everyday life. These questions lead the reader to introspection and not only studying the Bible, but also to making up their own mind about what it means.
This is a great tool for guided journaling. The format of the book lends itself to writing in your own response to the questions and statements, and gives scriptures references for further consideration. However, the questions are definitely leading, and intended to sway the reader to Vega’s own point of view. It is important to carefully consider everything within the context of the whole Bible, not just the verses that Vega pulls out and not following blindly with everything she (or any other author) asserts. There were a few things Vega implied which I did not agree with, but nothing extreme. Personally, I was able to find value even in the sections I disagreed with by examining my own beliefs and figuring out exactly where and why my convictions diverged from Vega’s.
You can read this book as quickly or slowly as you like. It depends on how much time you want to spend considering each question. Do not be intimidated by the number 400, it is not as overwhelming as it sounds once you get reading.
Unfortunately, there were a few grammatical and structural issues which took away from the book’s readability. My biggest complaint is the inconsistent structure; some of the “what if” statements end in question marks and some in periods, while they all have the same tone and should be universally one or the other, either statements or questions. I was also somewhat bothered by the fact that the book claims to have 400 “Kingdom Perspectives”, but each of the 400 statements supports a single perspective. There is really only one perspective, broken down into 400 components.
It is important to note that this is definitely a Christian study book. If you have no interest in Christian faith or the Bible, then you will most likely not appreciate this book. However, that does not mean you must be a Christian in order to appreciate this book. You simply have to recognize beforehand that the author’s worldview is distinctly Christian, and that reading this book will encourage you to consider the veracity and implications of the Bible. Additionally, it is necessary to note upfront that this is not A) a story or B) an argumentative defense of Christianity. While I would like to hear some of Vega’s own reasons for coming to the beliefs that she has, this book is not the place for it. The claims in Beyond Religion stand firmly on the Bible for support and defense.
The Gospel is told in a unique format in this book, and that gives it great value in my eyes. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the Bible or Christianity, especially as a prompt for journaling or inspiration for creating Bible study plans.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.