Dreaming With God a book review by John Carmichael.
Johnson, Bill. Dreaming With God. Shippensburg. PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2006.
Johnson’s book presents the truth that humanity can and should partner with God to experience a change in our world. He does this in ten chapters, with each of the chapters presenting the application and scope of this truth. This review will not spend a lot of time detailing each of the chapters, but it will with chapter one. In chapter one, Co-laboring With God, Johnson seeks to establish a new kind of relationship with God. That would be a relationship as a partner or friend (24). He draws on John 15:15, where Jesus calls His disciples friends. This change in the relationship affects four areas of our life: what we know, our experience, our function, and our identity (25). He brushes by the topic of God’s sovereignty with the quote of Jack Taylor, “God is so secure in His sovereignty that He is not afraid to appear un-sovereign” (30).
The subsequent chapters seek to continue to underscore the point of the first chapter with varying nuances. Chapter two challenges the reader to be creative. Johnson pushes back on the prayer, “none of me, all of You” (37). The point is that God wants the believer to recognize and activate the gifts He has already placed in the believer. The third chapter is called The Value of Mystery. Here Johnson deals with various aspects of God that humanity cannot figure out, like the tension of “the Kingdom now, but not yet” paradigm (64). Chapter four is called The Language of the Spirit. This chapter identifies many ways God will speak to believers, including dreams, prophecy, and senses. He says, “Having the heart and ability to hear from God leaves us with an unlimited potential in resourcing earth with Heaven’s resources” (85). In chapter five, Invading Babylon, the reader is exposed to the scope of the world that needs to be redesigned. He lists the seven mind-molders of society (92). In chapter six, The Practical Side of Things, Johnson seeks to tear down the compartmentalization that exists when it comes to God’s priorities and ours. The point is summed in his declaration, “If it matters to you, it matters to God (111).” Chapter seven, The Spirit of Revelation, moves the reader to understand that a redesign of the world is impossible without learning to receive from the Spirit. In this chapter, there is a discussion on the focus on the Spirit and the Scriptures. He gives a list of suggestions for those wanting to grow in receiving revelation from God (132-133). Chapter eight, Celebrating the Living Word, is a continuation of chapter seven. This chapter challenges the reader to listen to the Holy Spirit, meditate on the scriptures, and “to shape our world through biblical declarations” (154). Chapter nine, Redesigning Our World, sums up the previous chapters and gives various applications of the precepts he presents. The final chapter, Pulling Tomorrow Into Today, is a challenge to the reader to use the concepts in the book with an eye on the future.
Johnson’s book, Dreaming With God, is not just a good read; it is a provoking challenge to believers to become a force to change the world with God. The reader will be hard-pressed just to read this book. It is a book that presents concepts and truths that are intended to be carried out. This book will not fill your head with information and theology. It will challenge the reader to expand their thinking and start putting the truths to work in their lives.
From a literary perspective, this book is true to Johnson’s nature. It flows like a fluid. It is not a structured book. There will be times that the reader is reading some excellent ideas but have a hard time connecting them to the point of the chapter or the book, for that matter. This is not to say that every concept and precept are disconnected from each other or from the book’s point; it just needs to be understood that Johnson does not make the connection for the reader.
Johnson believes in the continuance of the supernatural and of the gifts of the Spirit. The reader will need to understand that Johnson presumes the fact that God is still speaking and that the gifts of the Spirit are available for believers today. Johnson will challenge the reader to seek after things in the Spirit realm that are hardly talked about in mainline denominational churches. This book is not for the carnal Christian or the pragmatically focused Christian. Johnson marries the spiritual Christian to the practical Christian. The point is that the believer will need to be spiritually sensitive with the motive to activate and experience in the world what has been perceived in the Spirit.
This book will be a challenge to people who are suspicious of teachings on the supernatural. For instance, Johnson says, “The devil himself has not creative abilities whatsoever. All he can do is distort and deform what God has made” (43). One critic seizes upon that statement by calling it a “critical error” (https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/Dreaming-with-God-Bill-Johnson-book-review). The critic then lists several of the activities of the devil as listed in the Bible. This list is supposed to prove that Johnson, and all who believe in the current flow of the power of the Spirit, are “dangerous and wrong.” Johnson’s point is to describe that anything that Satan does is just a copy. He is not trying to say that Satan does not have power or abilities. The question that some have asked is, “where did Satan get his power?” While not wanting to open this theological “can of worms,” in short, that answer is from God. Satan is operating on residual power from God that he had when he was in heaven.
This is not a book of systematic theology. That is not a slam on the book. I do not believe Johnson intended to make this his theological thesis on every one of the precepts presented. For instance, there will not a comprehensive theological/historical/cultural discussion on the sovereignty of God in the book. What the reader will get is a summation of Johnson’s thoughts about the subject. His point is not to answer every question but to give the reader a mission to explore these concepts and then to activate what is revealed. Do not try to use this book as a resource to establish theological truths for you. I would compare this book to a prescription you get from a medical doctor, not a dissertation you would get from Ph.D. in medicine.
Readers need to understand the general concepts in this book are intended to challenge the reader to seek to experience God’s best. It will grow the reader’s perspective that God wants to redesign their world with them. New believers and seasoned saints would benefit from this book.