286: Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher by Chad Norris
286.092: Norris, Chad. Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher: How Jesus Flipped My World Upside Down. Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 2013. 186 pp. ISBN 978-0-8007-9540-5.
- 200: Religion
- 280: Denominations and sects of the Christian Church
- 286: Baptists, Disciples of Christ, or Adventist Churches
- +092: Biography
No book so far has left me more incredulous than this one. Chad Norris, a plain-spoken Baptist minister from Simpsonville, South Carolina loves his flock, his neighbors, and his Savior. He offers varied programs for all manner of the faithful at his church and even travels abroad to help the less fortunate through both good deeds and prayer services. Here’s the kicker: he also claims that through his touch and prayer, Jesus Christ actually unleashes the power of God’s love to transform the lives of others, often curing ailments (i.e., blindness and cancer), healing wounds, and casting out evils. Yeah, he’s one of those people. In Signs, Wonders, and a Baptist Preacher, Norris recounts his early years and his journey to become the leader and healer he is today.
To be fair, Norris seems like a regular person with a regular life and regular faults. He overindulges in Mexican food, loves his children unconditionally, makes impulse purchases, is compassionate towards his fellow man, and occasionally acts haphazardly at golf courses. But in his ministry, he is anything but regular. His belief in God and Jesus apparently embolden him with the ability to hear their voices and carry out their commands. Jesus, all things considered, seems to be a very helpful presence in Norris’s life. He guides him through tough battles, enables him to love others more, and even helps with everyday tasks such as locating his child’s lost pacifier and unsuccessfully stopping him from writing a duplicate mortgage payment.
Norris’s theology is gentler than most; he moves away from the traditional fire-and-brimstone, fear-based faith and preaches to folks about the loving presence of his Lord. He sees religion and living as a Christian as a lifelong quest to live much like Jesus Christ and his apostles. He continually mines the Bible (in both its original and translated forms) to understand how the first Christians interacted with those around them and how he can use their examples to spread the message of his faith. He is, thankfully, more focused on improvement than damnation.
Now, to my assessment of the book: it is well-written, humble, and even a little funny in places. My opinion on his religion aside, Norris is very charismatic and even affable at times. His skepticism concerning his own experiences and beliefs is good to see. A lesser man would believe that he alone was actually healing people. I had to be very patient with this one. I believe that he believes, and no will ever be able to take that away from him. This book will not move anyone across the spiritual divide; the faithful will gain a new appreciation for the possibilities and the wonder of their Lord and the skeptics will continue to scoff. But, if you’ve got a free afternoon and an open mind, then Norris’s humble tale will be at the very least amusing and startling to sit through.