Book Review: How to Start a Riot by Jonathan Storment

How to Start a RiotIt’s refreshing to have a book on Acts come out of our shared Christian heritage that does not focus solely on narrow proof-texts for a particular kind of patternism. In his first book, How to Start a Riot, Jonathan Storment pulls together cultural, political, and Hebrew scriptural contexts back into the reading of Acts and shows us what it was really like to be an “Acts church,” if that’s something we strive to be. The conclusions to which one must come are riotous. Embarking on this journey will prove to be both convicting and inspiring. I imagine there are two paths one may take towards starting a riot after reading this book: 1) a sociopolitical upheaval the world doesn’t know how to deal with outside of a relationship with Christ, or 2) clinging to the comfortable and often scripture-twisting pattern of tradition that believes we’ve already figured it all out, and it “all” points to our own tradition, that then riots against such books for stepping on our toes and showing us that there is more to living for Christ than upholding (right or wrong) traditions. Let’s pray for the former. I echo Storment here:

“I hope this book has helped you to see that Acts is so much more than a law book for church organization and worship rituals. It’s a gripping account about men and women of faith who have taken risk after risk for the sake of something bigger than themselves” (194).

I’m not a fan of all the corny preacher jokes and ill-fitting analogies and metaphors that are often used to try and tie something to the culture of a given audience. I do believe we need to be culturally relevant and explain things in a way they are understood, but some go quite a bit overboard. Unfortunately, this is how I feel about the writing style found in How to Start a Riot, which is an edited collection of Storment’s sermons on Acts. I think it should have been edited further, but if you watch the book trailer (and I imagine listen to him preach) the writing voice will make sense if you hear what you’re reading with Storment’s lively and energetic actual voice. None of this should, however, detract from what I’ve said about the book’s content. I’d still recommend it, even if some of the silliness need be pushed through.


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers as part of their ACU Press Bookclub Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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