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May 30, 2005

Unlock the Prison Doors: A Mind and Media Review

I usually don't just open a book to page one and start reading.

First I read the back cover, skimming over the book reviewers' quotes. Then I read the front flap summary and back flap author bio. Then the dedication. And thanks and preface and table of contents.

I like to get my feet thoroughly wet before jumping into a pool, too.

So even before I started reading the main text of Unlock the Prison Doors: Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin, I knew it would be hard to give Terry Barber's book a favorable review.

While Pastor Barber has many years of experience--and I especially respect the time he and his family have ministered in Turkey--his educational background is less than I expected. I'm autodidactic myself, so degrees are not everything to me. However, I am on alert when I don't see a degree from a seminary which I respect.

Then the first resource credited in the acknowledgements is Bill Gothard. The big Bill G., fount of principles and legalisms. My scriptural-principle-and-corny-diagram detector was on high alert after that.

And Pastor Barber doesn't let us down.

His book is divided into fifteen chapters, one for each of the "Keys" he's teaching, like Key Six: Spiritual Laws. In a Gothardesque way, Pastor Barber expounds on the "Cycle of Sin" and "Cycle of Righteousness," keys four and five respectively. Chapter seven even has a diagram including an umbrella of authority.

By this point I was unwilling to consider this book as a reliable resource.

Perhaps this is all simply a matter of expectations and perceptions. I was expecting a more theologically oriented book on sanctification, with sound exegesis and ideas on practical application on "breaking free from habitual sin."

Instead, this book is written in a warm and conversational style. Pastor Barber's desire to help comes through clearly. Yet, perhaps that informal touch comes across too strongly with the "Uncle Ebee" stories. I'd rather hear an author share from the heart their personal struggles with sin and how they found God to be faithful, than to hear folksy vignettes. In and example of victory over lust, I don't want to hear of a fictitious Uncle Ebee looking at a girl in a bikini. What about sharing the real struggles, dependence upon God, and breaking free from sin?

That said I do want to point out some good things in this book. First, instead of merely giving Scripture references, Pastor Barber frequently quotes the full text of Bible verses. How can a reader but be blessed when he is reading from the Word of God?

Also Pastor Barber continually points people to Christ, reaffirming the Gospel and our need for God. He didn't seem to fall into the trap of "Implement these Biblical principles I've discovered, and succeed!"

In summary, I don't doubt that God can use this book to help people. But it's not a resource I'd particularly recommend for a theological understanding of sanctification or real help in our struggle with sin.


This is a review of Unlock the Prison Doors: Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin by Pastor Terry Barber. This book was provided through Mind and Media as a gift from the publisher.

Read more about this book at Diet of Bookworms.

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Comments

As I was adding this review to the Diet of Bookworms I noticed that you have the title wrong. It is "Unlock the Prison Doors" rather than "Unlocking The Prison Doors" (as you have in the title for this post).

Posted by: Tim at June 6, 2005 01:01 PM

Ack! Thanks for catching that oversight!

Posted by: TulipGirl at June 6, 2005 02:56 PM

Dear Tulip Girl,

Why are you using a ficticious name, since you are so opposed to Rev. Barber using a ficticious character to make a point? I read the book Unlock the Prison Doors and I found it to be very helpful in the problem of habitual sin. You are obviously bias in your asseessment of educational degrees. The book is refreshing, no stuffy theological, hard to understand gibberish.

Posted by: Carol Knaur at July 9, 2005 09:38 AM

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