Uche Anizor, Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2022), 185 pp.
Apathy. It’s a word that is rarely used. Most people have little interest in admitting a propensity to apathy so it is best to set it aside. Uche Anizor is unwilling to ignore this problem that affects millions. Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care is an honest look at a serious problem.
Dr. Anizor sets his sights on spiritual apathy, or as he says, “indifference toward the core things that Christians should care about.” Anizor sets the stage by painting a bleak picture of the apathetic culture we find ourselves in. His concern is primarily a lack of spiritual zeal, what he helpfully defines as “spiritual intensity.” “Zeal,” writes Anizor “in the day-to-day is about being alive to the important things around us.” The remainder of the book highlights the massive problem of apathy that hinders so many people.
The author invites readers on a journey to the Greek world where he unpacks the term apetheia, which is loosely translated as “without passion.” The term, however, that best correlates to our current situation is the Greek word acedia, or “sloth.” The word means “indifference, apathy, exhaustion, or lethargy.” One writer refers to acedia as “the noonday demon.” This is the vice that plagues many people somewhere in the middle of the day. It is where laziness resides and lack of motivation takes root. “This unaddressed dis-ease is perfect soil for the devil to do his work.”
Depression, despondency, and dry spells are related to apathy and are explored in some detail. In the end, these vices steal our peace or what the Jewish writers call “shalom” and what Cornelius Plantinga refers to as “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – the way things were meant to be.”
Dr. Anizor explores the seven dead causes of apathy which include doubt, grief, triviality, feelings of inadequacy, lack of discipline, fragility, and lack of purpose.
An apathetic person may be described as a “weary soul” or a “flickering torch.” But Anizor is not content to let weary souls slide into hopelessness. He presents the cure for overcoming apathy, which is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, “the gospel is a drama in which God is the lead actor. It is an announcement of what God has done in Christ and in the Spirit.” He reveals how apathy may be conquered, healed, and forgiven.
Finally, Dr. Anizor shows readers how to combat apathy. Man-centeredness is a dead end. The gospel is the cure. “All talk about practices, habits, and virtues is sub-Christian if it does not have at the forefront Christ’s work as well as the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Overcoming Anxiety: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care is thought-provoking, biblical, and deeply encouraging. I commend it without reservation.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.