Religion - Christian Life - Inspirational
As part of my participation in the “Blogging for Books” program, WaterBrook Press sent me a review copy of The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack. The subtitle of the book is “How three Mexican fisherman who came back from the dead changed my life and saved my marriage.”
I have now reviewed ten books for WaterBrook Multnomah, and am very happy to be part of the program although they might not share the same perspective. I am discovering that I am a harsh reviewer, often giving critical reviews. And I am sorry to say, this will be another one of those reviews.
Kissack tells the story of five Mexican fisherman who got lost at sea. Two of the men died, but three fishermen survived on the open ocean for over nine months. They survived by saving rain water, eating fish, drinking turtle’s blood, and reading the one Bible that one fisherman had brought on board. On the other side of reality, Joe Kissack was a successful syndicate salesman for TV shows. His life was a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior and addictions that finally led him to rock bottom, which was where he found God. Kissack learned of the story of the fishermen after he came to faith in God, and sought them out to share their story with the world as a story of hope and inspiration. He wants to produce their story into a movie, a goal that he has still yet to reach.
I must admit, the story itself is captivating. I read the 200 page book in three days. It really is hard to put down. The story of the fishermen is amazing, and Kissack’s story of self-destruction and redemption is a classic “bad man meets good God” story.
But having said that, I must offer my critique. I wish that Kissack had defined “faith” with more depth. He wrote of the faith of the fishermen who read the Bible. He wrote of surrendering his life to God when he was beyond all hope. But he never really described what the object of his faith was. There was little if any mention of Christ’s atoning death on the cross, of repentance, or of the indwelling Holy Spirit that brings about the new life that Kissack desperately wants the reader to know. He really didn’t go into detail about what it means to have faith in Christ, to confess our sins, to believe that Jesus is the eternal triune God, to submit our life to His Lordship, etc. Kissack may be marketing his book to Hollywood and has so watered down the faith element that it will be palatable to people of all religions. If that is the case, then the story has been robbed of anything of eternal value.
I also wish that Kissack had even begun to answer the question left hanging at the end of the book: why has the story not yet become a movie? If he believes that God has called him to turn that story into a movie to inspire and give hope, then why has it not happened yet? I am not implying that he is wrong to believe such, but that the faith journey of bringing the story to press is much like wandering on the open sea for nine months with no hope in sight. Why did God send him on the mission to find the fishermen and to discover their story if it will never be made into a movie? I believe there is a good answer for that, but one that he never explored in this book.
Kissack’s story is inspiring, both of the fishermen’s survival and his life change. But if he wants the story to inspire and give hope, I believe he needs to give more substance to the description of his faith. Biblical faith is more than just “giving up and letting God take control,” more than just a “Jesus take the wheel” kind of faith. Biblical faith is about right beliefs. Biblical faith is about repentance. Biblical faith is about rebirth. Biblical faith is about sanctification. It seems the book is lacking of the substance of things hoped for.
I received a free copy of The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack from Waterbrook Press for review.
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