Book Review & Giveaway: The Light is Winning by Zach Hoag

Book Review Faith

Zach Hoag’s, The Light is Winning: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back To Life was published by Zondervan. I selected this book for review from BookLook Bloggers. In exchange for my honest review, I was given a free paperback copy.

Imagine a world where religion can wage light instead of war. Does that place exist or is it solely a place we hold in our hearts? I don’t know. I came to Hoag’s book with these questions in mind. I read the book twice hoping I didn’t miss something the first time I read it.

Hoag comes from a Texas cult and as he grows older, he understands this is not how Jesus intended us to live. He draws from this place as he takes us through his failed attempts at church planting and his passion for God. He discusses the “nones,” the “dones,” and the reasons more and more people are leaving the church and moreover, leaving Christianity altogether. I’m in agreement with his idea of institutionalism.

“Maybe a better way to saying it is that though the dones leave the church for a number of important reasons, perhaps all of them can be boiled down to institutionalism” (Hoag, 43).

My favorite chapter was on American empire and how we’ve confiscated church to make it fit this conglomerate expression of being a lukewarm or cold Christian. I grew up in this kind of household and this way of thinking. I see it still expressed all around me when we talk about either being all for Jesus or not for Jesus at all. It leaves no room for the grace of the Most High.

I couldn’t dig too deeply into Hoag’s message. I was really drawn by him being in a cult as a kid. I’m from Texas. These cults are not unheard of (it’s a shame), but I felt the book had three different stories going on: growing up in a cult, church planting, and American empire.

I believe what he says to be true about wanting to belong. Perhaps, the book could have circled around this but that was left to loose interpretation. I agree when he says we need to wipe ourselves of the empire mentality. I can go 100% with that idea. I liked a lot of the ideas he’s working with but I couldn’t keep a straight thought while reading this book.

I appreciate what Hoag is doing and hope to read more of his work in the future. I recommend this book if you like to deconstruct your ideas of religion and spirituality.

From Zach’s website:

Zach Hoag is an author, preacher, and creator from New England. Planting a church in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. (Burlington, Vermont), and pursuing ministry beyond that in a variety of spaces, Zach has learned a few things about the power of a deeply rooted life in Christ. Zach has found belonging in the Vermont countryside where he lives with his wife, Kalen, and their three girls. Find him writing at and follow him on Twitter @zhoag.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers 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.”

Cover photo credit: Photo by Ander Burdain on Unsplash