A. W. Tozer once wrote about the problems he saw in the Christianity of his day. To counteract the “phrases and mottos that on the surface look great but are not rooted in Scripture or that mostly bolster one’s self-image,” he suggested that Christians demand scriptural proof from every teacher for their teachings. Nearly 60 years after his death, Tozer’s words couldn’t be more relevant. Today, we find many resources—many of which are marketed to women—making dazzling promises to lead the Christian out of discontent and into ultimate satisfaction. But do they pass Tozer’s scriptural-proof test?
In Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You, Jen Hatmaker seeks to guide women out of the passenger seat and into the driver seat of their most fulfilled lives. She writes, “[T]hat question you are asking, that dream, that need, that buried anger, that delicious desire, it can all live in the open, and its unveiling be your liberation song. Come get your life!”
The book is the product of the resources, tools, teachers, and leaders that instructed and guided her own life over the past few years. “I gathered it all . . . it’s all in here,” she reveals in a Facebook video. Spanning 12 chapters exploring statements like, “Who I Am,” and “What I Need,” and “What I Want,” and “What I Believe,” and “How I Connect,” Hatmaker’s signature writing style mixes wit with wisdom, sarcasm with hilarity, and whimsy with heartfelt emotion. Her fluid storytelling draws the reader in with ease, offering a comfy front-row seat to her most amusing anecdotes and embarrassing moments. She’s engaging and casts a wide net for a broad audience.
Published by Thomas Nelson, and marketed in both Christian and mainstream spaces, Fierce will appeal to women who may feel dissatisfied with their lives, or with their experiences of church and religion. Her affirmation of same-sex marriage and relationships in 2016 resulted in a falling out with the evangelical church, much of which she chronicles bitterly.
Hatmaker’s heart to help women trapped in destructive patterns and dysfunctional mindsets is both evident and commendable. One highlight of the book is when she exposes the chronic unhappiness that results from pursuing the unrealistic goals media holds out for women. While encouraging women to drop the fad diets, extreme beauty procedures, and toxic pursuits of perfection, Hatmaker’s vulnerability is as helpful as it is disarming. “Something in me maintains that pulling on a tiny pair of ‘junior jeans’ will usher me into not just contentment but outright joy. The rot has set,” she writes, in a candid admission of her continued battle in this area. As a woman, this confession is refreshing as I navigate my own journey in undoing some of these poisonous ideas in my thinking.
Served up with equal parts self-help, psychology, storytelling, and spirituality, Fierce contains some advice that will no doubt be helpful on a practical level. Yet while Hatmaker self-identifies as a Christian leader, her interpretations of Scripture, statistics, and studies seem rooted in a worldview that opposes biblical Christianity.
Who Am I?
According to Hatmaker, I’m “exactly enough.”
I just need to learn my personal “wiring” by determining my Enneagram number, which she credits with helping her to finally see God as “the best of all our qualities, not the worst.” By paying attention to the “deepest parts” of who I am, and uncovering my “inmost being,” I will find “a great and glorious good for the world.” The main thesis of the book is, “Do the work to find out what your best looks like.” Offering diagnostic tools, books to read, thought leaders to follow, Facebook groups to join, studies to consider, statistics to analyze and apply, there is no end to the work a woman can do to uncover the best version of herself.