(There, see? I can learn a more "modren" bibliography style.)
I picked this book up at a biblical counseling training conference several years ago, largely because of the interesting title and the very intelligent cover art. Yes, I judged a book by its cover, at least in part. The book is intended to give guidance in marital counseling through an extended case study. This case study is presented in the guise of an e-mail exchange between a marriage counselor, a couple on the brink of divorce, and another couple who are helping the first couple. In the scenario presented, the counselor lives in the city where the two couples formerly lived. He helped the second couple with a marital problem before. Now the two couples have both moved to a different city and have maintained their friendship.
What can I say about this book? It's as engaging as the cover art. The way the author presents the marriage counselor illustrating issues such as self-centeredness, self-deceit, and the underlying messages in what seem to be routine actions is very humorous. And the periodic illustrations of life at the Lazy U ranch are quite to the point. Roth lays out a lot of good principles, building a biblical case for them. It's not a bad book at all in that regard. The downfall, I think, is in the decision theology which runs throughout the book. It becomes more clear toward the end of the book, as the counselor reminds the man whose marriage is in trouble that he needs to take the initiative and make his personal decision to receive Christ as his personal savior, letting him be the Lord. And the woman whose marriage is in trouble talks about the fact that she had already made Jesus her personal savior but didn't think he was changing her well. Maybe her decision was not good enough or she didn't act in enough faith. The only response anyone ever gives is that we have to try harder to live a sanctified life and that we have to make sure we are believing as well as we can. This is a gospel that is not good news. It has no power except the power the individual believer is able to give it. It is not the power of God.
So, the book? I guess I'll put it on my shelf. Not a bad read, especially if you like theology and training presented in the form of a case study. But I don't think it's one I'd want to recommend too strongly. The weak theological foundation is a great disappointment. The principles laid out are quite basic, so won't generally be helpful to someone who has the theological underpinning to deal with the weak theology.