A new book by Garrett H. Jones promises big and delivers. In 2016, Garrett H. Jones released the predecessor to his newly revised and updated book, Catharsis: A Spiritual, Emotional, and Biblical Journey Out of the Tensions of Religion.“It was more like a rough draft,” Garrett says. “I had written nearly a hundred short essays and commentaries in my own study of the Bible over a span of nearly twenty years. I stitched them together roughly and then uploaded the document to Amazon.” The theme according to the first-time author: Refuting Calvinism.
In the introduction to his book, Jones recounts the first time he had ever heard of predestination. “I had only been a Christian for a few weeks, but I just knew it was wrong. I studied it in depth to understand it. From the beginning of my spiritual journey, I was exposed to reformed Baptist theology. It was in every bible study and every sermon. It was in the very water! I realized that Calvinism was one of the most prominent filters in protestant evangelicalism. And in my experience, it was a problem—a barrier to freedom and intimacy with God. But I couldn’t put my finger on why. It took me twenty years of study and writing to figure out how to use the Bible to support my case against what others were saying the Bible said.”
When asked how he marketed his first book, Jones answered, “I uploaded a quick selfie video to Facebook, in which I introduced the book. Less than a week later, it had 16,000 views. I knew I had struck a chord.” After over 500 books had been distributed after two months, Jones stopped promoting his book. “I had gotten some good but painful feedback from some friends. Some was stylistic criticism. But others thought I was diving headlong into heresy.”
“I was always a bit nervous to share it with others, because the subtitle and tone were a bit aggressive.” (The original subtitle was, ‘How Calvinism Blurs Our View of God.’) “I should’ve clued in that when the author is hesitant, it’s not going to make for a best-seller.” Jones went back to the drawing board. “I had to completely re-envision this project from the ground up. I added a narrative story throughout the biblical exegesis to make it more readable. I re-ordered the content. I took the focus off of disproving Calvinism and onto making God look good again. And I wrote a bunch of new content.” Over a year and an additional 35,000 words later, Jones is ready to republish the book. “It really is a completely new book. I considered changing the title, but catharsis and story are still main themes of my work. If people don’t know the meaning of that word at first glance, it’s ok. The subtitle communicates what the book is about very well.”
Why write the book in the first place? “I’ve always wanted people in the church to know God like I know him, but the way I know him never seemed to fit in a box. But I also wrote the book for me. I wanted to have integrity with the Bible. I deeply respect and cherish it. My Baptist theology gave me a lot of good things and that was one. I knew I couldn’t just tear the parts I didn’t like out of the book. I wanted to have a consistent, intellectually honest way of honoring the whole and understanding the bits that didn’t seem to fit. So, I wrote. Not for anyone else at first. But eventually the idea came to me that some of what I was writing might benefit others.”
Have you gotten any feedback on this new release? “I’m quite overwhelmed actually. One beta-reader said it was one of the best books he’s ever read. Another said she cried throughout the book while having emotional encounters with the goodness of God. I really can’t wait for more people to get their hands and the hearts on this book.”
Catharsis is available for pre-sale on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble and other major online retailers. It will be released on December 15, in time for people to gift it to friends for Christmas. Until December 25, the price will be set at $0.99 for the e-book, and $6.99 for a paperback. After Christmas, the price will return to its retail value of $9.99 for the e-book and $14.99 for the paperback.