It was neither. In What Matters Most, Sweet poses and then tackles some very direct questions, such as [page 18] "Why are Christians the ones who like to hover around the Tree of Knowledge, as pastor and theologian John Baker-Basel puts it, baiting the serpent and battling each other, rather than being the people who like to play in the garden?" Not all questions are so kindly worded to delightfully pique our curiosity. Sweet also makes some observations which come across much more as accusations, such as stating [page 36], "One of the problems of the church is its forceful insistence on intellectual adherence to certain beliefs, in the relative absense of a holy passion for the incarnational practice of those same beliefs."
The entire book isn't a rant about what is wrong with the church or what we "need" to start doing differently as Christians, either. After starting the book off with much emphasis on the aspect that faith requires relationship, Sweet devotes chapters 3 & 4 to revisiting the familiar but perplexing Biblical account of God's commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Sweet explains that this passage was troublesome to him, as it has been to many- it seems so contrary to God's character, yet we know God does not make mistakes. Sweet delves into a few different "takes" on why God did what He did, and they're all examined in light of Scripture. This for me was the highlight of the book and revealed concepts which I will be bringing up in conversation with others in Bible studies for years to come.
Sweet lists 7 basic relationships Christians have (with): God, God's Word, other Christians, others outside the faith, creation, things, and the spiritual realm. He makes some stark observations as well as challenging us in a motivational way to make meaningful connections with Christ and with others. Sweet calls us to [page 91] "Become a fifth gospel, a third testament", hence living out our faith rather than simply believing it. [page 143]"For Jesus it was not "Poor people and other outcasts, find yourself a church"; it was "Church people, find yourself the poor and the outcasts."
I happened to notice, while going through the title pages, that this book was originally published under the title Out of the Question, Into the Mystery as a hardcover. I am thrilled to have discovered this, since I prefer having a paper copy of books that are good enough for me to go around recommending to others. I'm going to order a copy so that I can begin highlighting like crazy! If you're still on the fence as to whether or not you'd like to read this book, think about it this way: You bothered to read this whole review, didn't you? Get the book already. Read it for yourself, don't settle for my meager commentary!
****In the spirit of full disclosure, I did receive a free copy of this ebook for the purpose of reviewing.