Men today are lacking a fundamental quality according to Paul Coughlin: courage. In his book, Unleashing Courageous Faith, Paul Coughlin, argues for a recommitment to the development of courage in the life of a Christian man. The greeks divided the soul into three parts: the logos (the head and logic); the eros (the heart and emotions); and the thumos (the courageous spirit, animating life). Coughlin’s book focuses on the thumos as a necessary and central tenant of the Christian walk. The problem is that for years it has been grounded and squashed by good willed Christians and Churches.
Thumos is a classical greek word that conveys “spiritual fervor”. It’s the righteous indignation that you feel towards homelessness, human exploitation, divorce, abandonment, or slavery. Thumos is the rage that fills you when you look at injustices, corruption, and lethargy. Thumos is what is missing in our homes, churches, and work places. In this book, Coughlin attempts to arise our Thumos, challenge how we think about it, and give opportunities to exercise it.
Coughlin spends the first six chapters of the book explaining the need for a return of Thumos. He writes about how the Church has stolen it from men, how the world needs men to find it. This is a perfect example of how this book is written. In 140 pages, Coughlin says what could have been said in 30. His style is very wordy and very repetatitve. But do not let the first part of the book ruin the rest.
In the last few chapters he explores how spiritual abuse spills our thumos (chap 7) and how lethargy ruins our thumos. He looks at how our thumos becomes numb as we dive into materialism (chap 8). His best chapter of the book, Cynicism: Thumos-freezing, is one that shows how cynicism destroys our thumos. I am a cynic towards the church a lot of the time. I have seen the most cold and destructive people within churches. I have seen lethargy and laziness and corruption within the walls of the church. Now I look towards the future with little hope for the church at times. But this is a façade that I use to hide. It takes a vision and heart to grow thumos…and these are two things that I refuse because of fear. This chapter changed the way I need to think about church and about my heart.
Overall, this book was a struggle to get through because Coughlin is not as direct and economical in his writing as I would have liked. He takes a needed subject and does well with it. But he does struggle with exploring thumos within a biblical framework. I felt at times that he missed some opportunities to arise our thumos and give practical goals for growing it.