Primal by Mark Batterson

December 16, 2009 | By | Add a Comment

Maybe it’s time to admit that we don’t know all the answers. But we know the One who does. Maybe we’ve been offering the wrong thing. We offer answers. God offers a relationship through Jesus Christ. His answer to our questions isn’t knowledge. It’s a relationship. And that relationship is the answer to every question.

Primal, p. 106

Synopsis (complements of WaterBrook): In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls the reader to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in his or her own life.

Review (mine): Reading this book is like pouring gasoline on a fire that is struggling to ignite. We are commanded to the love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind 1. All of it. This book does a great job at putting lukewarm Christianity in a blender and is a very challenging read.  It is a kick in the pants, but a good kick.  It is the kind of kick that helps rather than harms and builds up rather than tears down. Its wounds are faithful.

Batterson mentions a love of learning in this book.  This was evident throughout. From white blood cells to taxi cab patterns in London to the galaxy to reticular activating systems to the founder of Chuck E. Cheese to nuclear fission to George Washington Carver and uses of peanuts, he brought up a lot of things I knew little about – especially topics pertaining to history and science. Not only does he write about passionate curiosity, he clearly has a great deal of it. I was so taken in by the power of the observation, I felt compelled to study the whoopie pie sitting in front of me after lunch. I’m not even joking. Ultimately, I didn’t have the patience.


I do have some criticism.  Much of the book is an advertisement for National Community Church in Washington, DC (the church Batterson leads). We learn about their exceptional small group system, coffee shop, welcome booklett, missions trips, mission trip attendance, missions giving, branded sermon series (with trailers) and more.

Aside from church related accomplishments, Batterson pats himself on the back regarding a number of other achievements (hiking, parenting, fasting and giving to name a few). I think it is important to keep these words in mind:

For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. – 1 John 2:16, emphasis mine

I realize that I need to be careful here. It just seems that Batterson (along with everyone who achieves a measure of success) may struggle with the temptation to believe that he is the reason for God greatly blessing his church. It might also lead people to the belief that they are failures or that God isn’t pleased with their efforts if they aren’t seeing a lot of fruit in their ministry.2

Overall, this is a passionate, passionate piece of work and is the most quotable book that I’ve read lately. The author clearly threw his heart into this. For that, I am very grateful.

Rating: 4/5 (The passion rubs off.)

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. To learn more about or purchase this book at, click here.

  1. Matthew 22:37-38
  2. I expound upon these thoughts in this post.
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