Jim Barringer has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Anderson University, and an MA in Biblical Studies from Southwest Seminary. He is worship and teaching Pastor at The Church of Life in Orlando, Florida.
The phrase “born again,” is taken from John 3:3. It has taken on a variety of meanings, and in contemporary culture it has gained some unfortunate baggage. Barringer seeks to help the reader understand what it really means and why it matters. The book is structured in 7 semi-linear chapters. I say “semi-linear” because there are references and connection between chapters that are coherent, but unconventional. This manages to avoid making the book confusing.
The author lays the groundwork by expositing the dialogue where the phrase first appears, notes that it is a mandate and not an option, and points to its centrality to our identity. He then demolishes the idea that there are good people (apart from God) and lays out our need for rebirth. After explaining the sin issue, he then spends the next three chapters unpacking the command to love God and others and what that should look like.
Barringer does an excellent job making these ideas accessible to those interested in understanding the Christian life from conversion through the sanctification process right up to the eschaton. In other words, from joining oneself to Jesus, to the growth process, right up to life in the new heavens and new earth. Many books like this have been written, but few, if any, with this level of transparency on the part of the author. Barringer is refreshingly honest about his own struggles and failures in his life. It is good to know that even those in leadership struggle beyond the occasional “yes, I struggle too” thrown in as a formality. While there are a few places that a theology nerd like me might take issue, they are not nearly important enough to mention here.
This book is a must read for anyone who is frustrated with the christianese platitudes they get when they look for advice on the Christian life, or any serious seeker who is confused by the many voices competing for their attention. It is accessible for readers from middle school up, and intelligent enough for a PhD. Even experienced Christians can be refreshed and reminded of what is important.