“Healing is a Choice” by Stephen Arterburn

Posted by on 27 February, 2013 in Reviews | 2 Comments

Healing is a ChoiceArterburn, Stephen. Healing is a Choice, Ten decisions that will transform your life and ten lies that can prevent you from making them. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.

This book supplied for review through BookSneeze®

454 pages.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

First, the 2011 edition of this book includes a study guide which takes up about half the pages. So don’t let the page count daunt you.

The title of this book bothered me. Does the author really think that healing is simply a matter of deciding to heal? And if so, what does that say about those who struggle to find healing decades on? Arterburn’s answer to these questions is vague enough to be both relieving and slightly disturbing. Ultimately, his point seems to be this: “Healing is a choice. It is God’s choice, but there are choices that each of us must make if we are to experience whatever healing God has for us” (p. 19).

Overall, this book should be high on the reading list for those who have experienced serious brokenness and wonder if healing is even possible. Such people will probably find the book insightful on many aspects of brokenness.

The ups

First, Arterburn (who happens to also be the co-author of the best-selling Every Man’s Battle series) is painfully open about his own past and the struggles that led him to write this book. His vulnerability gives him authenticity even though the extent of his brokenness doesn’t compare to what some have experienced.

Second, the content of this book is substantial. I found that I could sink my teeth into the ideas and walk away with changes to make in my thinking and living. A few samples of the ten decisions will give you a feel: the choice to feel your life, the choice to risk your life, the choice to serve, etc.

Third, in spite of the overtones of condemnation in the title, Arterburn generally handles difficult issues with the wisdom and sensitivity that comes from experience and careful research and thought.

The downs

First, as a Christian book, this book is quite disappointing. Theology is addressed occasionally and generally as an afterthought. Jesus Christ is peripheral and God functions to make much of us. The big issue in this book is us.

Second, where theology does come up, it’s pretty pathetic. Sin is generally referred to as “mistakes” or “shortcomings,” Scripture is often quoted from The Message, and the use of Scripture is fast and loose as a general rule. Additionally, at one point the author seems to promote an open theology of the sovereignty of God.


While the downs are quite down, this book does come from a basically Christian world-view and should be helpful to the sorts of people that often end up in the too-hard basket. While the book needs to be read with discernment, as a group study or a one-on-one study, this book is ideal. The reader should walk away thinking differently and with hope for continued healing.

Grace to you.


About Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at

Comments (2)

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  • avatar

    Jeff Rivera

    Thank you for the honest review, it was really helpful. I might check out this book, but the theological disapointments might stop me. I look forward to more posts from you, thank you!

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    Glad it was helpful Jeff.

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