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Boyer and Ver Miller: Human Wholeness

Mark G. Boyer and Matthew S. Ver Miller, Human Wholeness: A Spirituality of Relationship (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015), 72 pages.

Mark G. Boyer (Roman Catholic priest and college professor at Missouri State University) and Matthew S. Ver Miller (psychologist and life-coach) write from their experience in relationship, which began as mentor and mentee, then grew into a peer relationship. This brief book takes just five chapters to explore the necessity of relationship in spiritual formation. The first third of the book brings definitions, the second third explores relationship dynamics, and the final third demonstrates these at work in the gospel’s example of Jesus with his disciples, in order to bring the reader to embrace the necessity of relationship. Each chapter concludes with five to seven discussion questions, which may be helpful for an individual reader or group to process and consider the content of the chapter.

Chapter one divides human wholeness into seven dimensions in order that each of the seven parts might be defined, studied, and understood. Nevertheless, these seven dimensions are inseparable in the reality of our human experience. The seven dimensions are intellectual, psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and aesthetic. The authors will discuss each dimension separately and then bring the parts back into the whole, demonstrating the necessity of integration.

Boyer and Ver Miller turn the noun “friendship” into a verb, resulting in the action of “friendshipping” in chapter two. This is an entertaining concept to consider, so that one’s lived reality of friendship cannot remain static; it requires the intentional steps, time commitments, activities, experiences, and actions of friendship. Friendshipping is a costly endeavor that is vital to ones spiritual development. We are designed to be in relationship and thus, cannot be complete without ongoing relationships. Once the reader accepts the necessary actions of friendshipping, then the central thesis of Human Wholeness comes fully into the comprehension of this simple yet profound little book.

The closing chapter exegetes the life of Jesus and expounds on how he invested himself in relationships with both people and with God the Father. The curious omission of this chapter is that it only focuses on the divine aspect relationship between Father and Son, without any mention to the Holy Spirit. From a trinitarian perspective, one must wonder about the theological impossibility of this two-thirds relationship. It begs the question, is it even theologically possible to have only one or two members of the Trinity active in any event? The opening illustration of this book is one of the strands of a rope, which are intertwined into a full and unending circle. Perhaps there is a reason Boyer and Ver Miller have chosen to omit the Holy Spirit from their book, which has escaped the reviewer, but it seems that the inclusion of the third member of the Trinity would greatly enhance their thesis on the necessity of the spirituality of human relationship in the discipline of spiritual formation.

Reviewed by John R. Miller


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2016

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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