Book Review: Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook

I was raised in a Christian home with wonderful Christian parents and was part of a small but faithful church. But at some point in my spiritual journey it was necessary for me to “make my faith my own”, to move from a second-hand faith based primarily on what I had simply learned from my parents, to a first-hand faith which arose out of a period of struggle and doubt. For me, this happened in my Middle School and High School years so that I was pretty settled by the time I reached college. For Ryan and Josh shook, this movement to first-hand faith from second-hand faith worked itself out during their college years.

Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own encourages young believers to take this journey of faith and it gives them the roadmap for finding the way to first-hand faith. Along the way the Shook brothers encourage believers to acknowledge their emptiness, get honest about their doubts and struggles, and abandon legalistic “rule following” in place of true heart change. They also encourage young believers to move outside of their comfort zone and become part of a community of first-hand believers.

Firsthand doesn’t advocate abandoning the faith of your upbringing, but owning it as your own. In my case, and in the case of the Shook’s, the content of second-hand faith didn’t really change, but my attitude toward that faith did.

Firsthand is a book of basics and seasoned believers will probably want to pass on it. That said, it’s a book I would love to put in the hands of a teenager or college student who would be willing to read it, especially someone who is going through their own crisis of faith (or who has become complacent in a second-hand faith). This is a journey most kids who grew up in Christian homes will go through and it is a deeply rewarding for those willing to persevere through it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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