August 2013


Death by Living by N.D. WilsonYesterday I posted my review of N.D. Wilson’s new book Death by Living. Today I am announcing a giveaway for the book. You can enter today through Friday and I will announce the winners on Tuesday since Monday is a holiday. Thomas Nelson has been kind enough to give me three copies of the book for three lucky winners. Since I am not able to load PunchTab into the post I am going to do this the old fashioned way – just leave a comment with your name and three names will be randomly drawn. Contest ends Friday night at midnight. I will contact the winners via email and get their address.

Good luck!

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Death by Living by N.D. Wilson“Glory is sacrifice, glory is exhaustion, glory is having nothing left to give.

Almost.

It is death by living.”

In 2009 N.D. Wilson wrote a genre defying book titled Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken Whirl, in which he wrote about how life could be viewed and told by sitting in the famous carnival and circus ride a tilt-a-whirl. I imagine for most readers it was a book which was the first of its kind. No doubt, as one read and considered their experiences in a tilt-a-whirl ride, Wilson accomplished his goal. It was fast paced, hard to put down, hard to follow at times but rewarding to those who could finish it.

Almost four years later to the date, Wilson is at it again and he does not disappoint. With much of the same genre defying style and all of the same writing whit and personality, Wilson has written a semi-follow up book titled Death by Living: Life Is Meant to be Spent. Through the telling of many varied life stories of various people, including himself, Wilson shows us how to prepare for death by living life.

Unlike his first book of this sort, Wilson drives home his message through the telling of life events from various people he knows by weaving them in and out from chapter to chapter and paragraph to paragraph. This book is less about tackling the big theological and philosophical questions of life like, why do people suffer and how can a good God and evil exist, and more about presenting the lives of various people whom Wilson believes get the idea of death by living.

The stories of the various people are intertwined together such that one can read parts of different people’s lives more than once even within the same chapter. While stylistically this might be breaking writers 101 and an editor’s worst nightmare, it is done on purpose to drive home the point that our lives are a woven tapestry that are not lived in seclusion but rather are mixed together by the sovereign creator’s hand. All of our life’s stories are happening at the same time. Wilson wants us to take note of this. “Each of us is in the middle of a story. But for some reason, we don’t show the slightest desire to read it, let alone live it with any kind of humble self-awareness.” (4) Wilson wants us to step back and read our lives and the lives of others whom we are connected to. This could take some time!

One of the themes that Wilson drives through nearly every chapter and live story is the idea that our lives are the delicate and detailed working of God our creator. He states

We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. (6)

And again, speaking of the lives of his sleeping children after a miserable drive through a snow storm through which they slept;

The five young souls closest to me are the first that I touch, and they are brother and sisters to a King. He treasures them more than I ever could, even at my most wistful. He shaped them from nothing. He called them here and burdened them with me as their father. He beats their hearts and His breath inflates their lungs. He knows their beginning and their ends. He know how many other souls He will bring from these five in the centuries to come just as He knows how many flakes He hurled at me on the mountain. We are all flakes, hurled with intertwining artistry. (146)

For some the idea of our creator’s hand working out the details of our lives may seem intrusive. For Wilson, he would have it no other way. How else can life be the story it is. Who else could create and perfectly weave the beautiful stories of all of our lives together with purpose and momentum other that God?

As you read, one gets the idea that Wilson is trying to draw us into the story of our own lives by letting us peak into the stories of others lives. This is certainly how the book affected me. I felt this way as I read about his puking child at the end of a long plane ride and in various public places you pray it never happens. How we tells the stories of his grandfather’s conversion and life in the military. How he tells of his grandparents showing he, his siblings and cousins videos and pictures of their own lives. Here are people who don’t just agree that life is a past story to tell, a story being told and one whose future is yet to be seen. These are the lives of people who are preparing for death by living. Wilson poignantly points out that

As it turns out, there is a difference between asserting that life is a story and actually living life like a story. And there is another difference between living life like a story and living life like a good story. (71)

Wilson wants us to identify with their stories He wants us to see the similarities between our lives and theirs. If we can see that these people are living life then we can see how we might be already or at least how easily we can begin to. As I read the bit about his child throwing up I was reminded of my wife and I’s plane ride back from China with our just adopted son, and how she and I were throwing up the whole way home (thankfully our son was not but he was there to comfort us the whole way!). I gave it a good Facebook LOL (with caps of course!) on almost every page as he retold the events of their trip. I began to see my life as Wilson saw his and that is the point. When we step back and see our lives for the varied compilation of stores that it is we begin to see life as the beauty that God has and is making it. All of the stories of our lives are part of the story of what God is doing in all of our lives.

All of our lives are a story, a story worth telling – a good story. Wilson puts the story of his life and others to paper and through it we are awakened to the story that all of our lives already are. He has helped pave the way for us to see our lives as they really are. We don’t need to wish we were someone else. We don’t need to envy, crave, lust after, or despise the seemingly better lives of those on the cover of magazines. It is the ordinary life of every ordinary person that is worth telling. We need to see our lives as a story of the creator of all stories. We all have a life of stories worth living and sharing. It is in living our lives that we prepare for its end. This is death by living. This is living a life that is meant to be spent.

Death by Living is the kind of book we all need to read. It will challenge the daft assumptions we have about our lives. Wilson will show you how to see it as he does. Wilson’s life is no different than the rest of ours but he knows how to see it for the marvelous story that it is. Live each moment as if you were dying the next.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the words and thoughts expressed are my own.

Two weeks ago we began to look at Schaeffer’s book Genesis in Space and Time. In examining the first three chapters we look at Schaeffer’s thoughts on creation. This week we turn to Genesis 3 with the fall and its implications for creation.

Love, Obedience and Death

Though there were over 600 laws in the Mosaic Law God summarizes them all into two – love God and love others (Deut. 6 & Matt. 22). It is our loving God and others that is crucial and comes to the forefront at the fall. At creation God and man had a loving relationship which incorporated mans obedience to God. In this regard Schaeffer states,

The kind of love proper here is also rooted into obedience, simply because of the nature of the relationship between the two parties. Love of the creature toward the creator must include obedience or it is meaningless. (48)

This is not just true of man’s relationship with God after the fall but before it as well. Genesis 2:16-17 gives us the command God gives to Adam and Eve to not eat of the true of knowledge of good and evil. Their relationship with God is dependent on their obedience of that command. Schaeffer sees this as the “purpose of man”, that, unless he obeys, he cannot “be fully man.” (48) Man is made for love and obedience and his relationship with God is dependent upon them. Schaeffer rightly states

Love and obedience in Genesis 3 are placed in the context of a commandment concerning a tree – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is important to note that the test Adam faces does not involve a choice between an evil tree that God has made and a good tree that God has made, for God has made no evil things. (49)

This is an important observation for many reasons, two of which Schaeffer mentions. First, Christianity does not teach that good and evil come from God. Good and evil are not forces that work together in the universe to bring abut a peaceful end. Second, God is not responsible for evil. Again, Schaeffer’s words are helpful here

God has indeed made the possibility of man’s choosing, including the possibility of choosing wrongly. But God has not made evil. There is not an evil tree and a good tree. There is simply a choice. When God finished creating, there was noting made which was contrary to His character. (50)

Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit they went from knowing about good and evil based on God’s telling them to knowing of good and evil based on experience. It was to be enough to know of evil from what God had told them. This required trust in God on their part that what He told them about evil was all they needed to know. They did not have to experience it themselves to know it. Here is the tension of love and obedience – God loved them enough to warn them but would they obey the command?

Upon knowing of evil through experience, man now knows death because of his disobedience. Man has died in three ways: on earth in life, at the end of life when the body dies and in eternity. It is helpful to understand these three deaths if we understand death to be separation from something. So, first, man was separated from God on earth while he was living. God cast him out of the garden which in part was a casting him out of His presence. Second, man will die physically. This is both a judgment and part of the means of salvation as Paul will address at the end of 1 Corinthians. It is a judgment for their disobedience but also salvation because God will not keep man in his sin cursed body. Rather, he will give him a resurrected body after the pattern of Christ’s resurrected body. Finally, man will die eternally. This refers to the eternal death many will face who are separated from God because of their sin and subsequent rejection of God during their life on earth.

Enter Satan

With the entrance of the serpent into God’s creation we have “a new stage in the flow of biblical history.” (52) Schaeffer is quick to point out that the simplicity and shortness of detail we are given about the serpent is less than we want from the text. “We want to know more that we are actually given,” says Schaeffer. (52) While there is not a lot of detail given in Genesis, Schaeffer draws our attention to more of scripture later in the cannon. He discusses passages like Isaiah 14:12-15, John 8: 44, Rev. 12:9 and 20:2 as passages that clearly point back to the fall event and identify the serpent as Satan. On the parallels between Isaiah 14:12-15 Schaeffer notes

The story of Satan in Isaiah is paralleled almost exactly in Genesis in regard to man’s revolt. Satan wants to be equal with God, but the end of this is that he will be brought down into the abyss. In Genesis 3 the woman would be equal with God, but she ends in death. As we consider the entrance of the serpent into the garden, we see the revolt about to spread across the world of mankind which God has made. There is no revolt among the machines, nor the plants, not eh animals. But in the circle of that which can rebel, angels and men, we see rebellion……I think it is clear that the Devil used the animal, the serpent, as his first try to challenge and defeat God in the world of mankind. (55)

What we see is that a creature of God, Satan, has used God’s very good creation, a serpent, to bring about the fall of the pinnacle of God’s creation, man. Not only does Satan use God’s good creation to tempt Eve but he twists God’s word to so as well. In the face of this choice Schaeffer observes

The woman stands in her glory – the glory of being created in the image of God with no necessity upon her to choose evil. Standing in a perfect environment, having heard the voice of God, she is at a place where she can choose. (56)

While we all know that the serpent changed God’s command to Adam & Eve sometime we miss the subtleties of the text. Schaeffer is very adept at bringing these out and does so here. “Notice the direct contradiction. God said in the day you eat, you shall die; Satan said in the day you eat, you will be like God.” (56) God promises death for what the serpent promises as being like God. Schaeffer continues,

She can have experiential knowledge, but that knowledge is no truer knowledge than the knowledge from God, and the result is that the whole human race will be in agony. It is a lie, of course, that she is going to be like God, because experiential knowledge of evil is not what makes God God. (57)

The Results of the Fall

The account of the Fall is short and the judgments that follow are pointed and swift. As Paul tells us in Romans 5:12-19, with the Fall of Adam, as the representative head of all humanity, sin not only entered into the world but it entered the entire human race.

By the action of one man in a historic, space-time situation, sin entered into the world of men. But this is not just a theoretical statement that gives us a reasonable and sufficient answer to man’s present dilemma, explaining how the world can be so evil and God still be good. It is that in reality, from this time on, man was and is a sinner. (61)

On the significance of what they had done Schaeffer states,

In the garden, in the cool (or the wind) of the day, there was open fellowship, open communication – open propositional communication between God and man before the Fall. But now that which was his wonder and his joy, the fulfillment of his need, an infinite-personal reference point with whom he could have communion and communication, became the reason for his fear. He was going to meet God face to face! Once man had shaken his fist in the face of God, what had been so wonderful became a just reason for fear, because God was really there. (64)

Not only is man fearful of God but he begins to divide himself in an attempt to pass blame on the other. Adam and Eve both blame the other for their sin and now the perfect union God made has enveloped onto itself. (65)

The judgment that follows is fourfold. First, God judges the serpent. While “all nature becomes abnormal; yet the serpent is singled out in a special way.” (65) Second, God judges Satan. Schaeffer gets to this in chapter seven which will be covered in the next post. Third, God judges the women. God hits her at the heart of her relationships: child bearing and being a wife. It is the second aspect of Eve’s curse that Schaeffer expands on and is rather interesting. He states

In a fallen world, unstructured democracy is not possible. Rather, God brings structure into the primary relationship of man – the man-women relationship. In a fallen world structure is needed for order. God Himself here imposes it on the basic human relationship. Form is given, and without such form freedom would only be chaos. (66)

Schaeffer is saying that the submissive role a women is to play in relationship to man is a result of the Fall and for the purpose of keeping order in the man-women relationship. The final judgment is on man, Adam. Here Schaeffer notes that “almost all of the results of God’s judgement because of man’s rebellion relate in some way to the external world.” (66) Here we see that Adam’s judgment is no different. These external judgments change the flow of biblical history significantly.

Along with four parties being judged there are also four separations, though they are not necessarily related to the judgments. First, man is separated from God. This is the underlying relationship that supports all other relationships man has. When this relationship suffers, they all suffer. Second, man is separated from himself. He is self-deceived and he lies to himself about his condition. This manifests itself in his sexual relationships as well at death. Regarding physical death Schaeffer calls it “the greatest separation of a man from himself.” (70) Third, man is separated from man. This is seen in his relationship with Eve. They both try to pass blame on the other and thus they are divided against each other. Will the human race have a future? This is the breakdown of man as a society. With the birth of their first two boys and the beginning of the godly and ungodly line, humanity turns on itself. Fourth, man is separated from nature and nature from nature. Man’s dominion is lost and he must fight to get it back. Nature has now become a constant judgment which will always remind him of his sin.

In sum, Schaeffer makes the following observation of man at the end of the Fall:

The simple fact is that in wanting to be what man as a creature could not be, man lost what he could be. In every area and relationship men have lost what finite man could be in his proper place. (70)

10 Sacred Cows by Jared MooreI live next to two cow farms and I have always wanted to try cow tipping, though I never really will. Sure it would be hard but it would be fun trying, so long as I don’t cause a stampede! This idea of cow tipping works its way into other realms when one tries to tip over something about a person or movement that needs to change. Everyone has sacred cows that need to be tipped. Identifying them is the easy part, tipping them is not.

In his short and to-the-point book, 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to be Tipped, Jared Moore has identified what he believes are 10 sacred cows of contemporary Christianity that need to be exposed and tipped. “A ‘sacred cow’ in the church is a tradition that has been exalted to a position of normalcy without Biblical warrant.” (1)

These sacred cows of the church are such because they have existed for a long time. Thus they are hard to identify by those who practice and ‘worship’ them. Cows are heavy and don’t move unless they want to. These cows need to be tipped in order to push them along.

Of the ten ‘sacred cows’ that Moore discusses I found a few of them to be most revealing. The first chapter deals with Entertaining Sermons. In my mind this is perhaps the foundation for why how much of the other sacred cows have begun. Moore explains, “The danger in seeking to entertain through our sermons is that we may be encouraging people to enjoy our sermons without enjoying Jesus – the One who they were created for.” (3)

Another chapter that stood out to me was chapter three, Numbers Equal Revival. We naturally assume that the more people equals a fruitful and faithful ministry. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We can be so concerned with getting people into church to make us think we are fulfilling the great commission when in fact we are leaving much of it out. Moore explains, “The Great Commission has been redefined today as a command to ‘baptize those who confess Christ as Lord’; meanwhile, the command to ‘teach these Christians everything Christ has commanded’ is the Great Omission of the church.” (10)

A final sacred cow that really stood out to me was the Nostalgia in worship. “Christians often worship worship in stead of worshiping God,” Moore says. (13) We tend to worship our styles instead of God Himself.

All in all this is a nice peace to read. Moore does not mince words and his thought is clear. Some readers will be hit more than others and some may even disagree with his observations. I personally think he is right on all accounts. This is a helpful little book and good to pass around to your friends at church.

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Judges for You“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)

At the end of the book of Joshua Israel is in the land possessing it and driving out the pagan inhabitants under the leadership of Joshua. Israel is in the land God has promised them. If they are an obedient people they will keep possession of the promised land of Canaan. The book of Judges shows us how obedient, or, rather, how disobedient they have become.

Israel was to drive the Cannanites out from the land so they could live in covenant faithfulness to the Lord. They failed, miserably. “Though they had not wholly rejected God as their God, they had not wholly accepted him, either.” (23) This is the tension in the book of Judges which surfaces as we observe how Israel behaves before, during and after each if its judges.

In his reworked devotional on Judges, Judges: The Flawed and the Flawless, Tim Keller writes the second book in the new God’ Word For You Series, Judges For You, published by The Good Book Company. This series is designed so that one can simply read through the book to learn more about a particular book of the Bible, use the book to feed you for your personal devotions or serve as a guide to lead others in a small group setting.

Interpretational Guides for Judges

Before getting into the pages of Judges, Keller wisely points out six main themes that run through the book of Judges (10-12):

  1. God relentlessly offer his grace to his people who do not deserve it, or seek it, or even appreciate it after they have been saved by it. Throughout the repetitive cycle of Israel throughout each judge, God’s grace is front and center in the face of Israel’s constant rebellion against God.
  2. God wants lordship over every area of our lives, not just some. God wanted Israel to possess the entirety of Canaan but their disobedience to God in so many ways kept them from keeping possession of the land.
  3. There is a tension between grace and law, between conditionality and unconditionality. This is the hardest aspect of the book of Judges to grasp. God blesses Israel despite their sin when they repent and God promises to only bless them if they are obedient. The question of tension is, are God’s promises conditional or unconditional? Keller answers both.
  4. There is a need for continual spiritual renewal in our lives here on earth, and a way to make that a reality. The cycle of sin to repentance throughout the book of Judges shows us that because of our continual sin we are in need of continual spiritual renewal.
  5. We need a true Savior, to which all human saviors point, through both their flaws and strengths. Through the strengths and weaknesses of each of the judges we see the need for the true and better judge, Jesus Christ.
  6. God is in charge, no matter what it looks like. If we merely look at Israel in Judges we might be prone to think God is not there amidst the rampant idolatry of his people. We would be wrong. God is always in the midst working towards his ends.

A Repeated Cycle to Summarize the Book

There is no question that one of the first things a familiar reader of Judges thinks of when they think of the book is the repeated cycle of Israel through the life of the judges. Though there are some minor variations of this cycle Keller lays the seven step cycle as seen in Judges 2:11-19:

  1. The people rebel – vs. 11-12
  2. God is angry – vs. 12
  3. They are oppressed by their enemies – vs. 14-15
  4. They repent and cry out to the Lord – vs. 15
  5. God saves them through a chosen leader – vs. 16
  6. Israel has peace for a time – vs. 18
  7. The judge dies – vs. 19

With the passing of each judge Israel sinks deeper and deeper into the covenant unfaithfulness and idolatry with the gods of the other nations. “The thorn dug deeper and deeper; the snares pulled Israel more and more tightly. We will see as Judges progresses that the rebellion becomes worse, the oppression heavier, the repentance less heartfelt, the judges themselves more flawed, and the salvation and ‘revivals’ they bring weaker.” (34) The people of Israel go through a constant spiral, and a downward one at that.

Seeing Ourselves in Judges

It is very easy to read the book of Judges with 20/20 vision and be tempted to judge Israel for their continual rebellion against God. Surely, the last thing we would conclude is that Israel’s behavior is but a mirror reflection of our relationship with God. Who could or would want to be like that, we might ask ourselves. As Keller so aptly points out throughout the book, Judges is just that – a window and mirror into our own lives. Towards the end of the book, reflecting on the horrific events of chapter 19, Keller explains it nicely:

And they (Israel) show us, to an extent, ourselves. We may have secrets buried deep that bear resemblance in some (perhaps small) way to the conduct of the Gibeonites. Or we may not have committed such things, but (like the Levite) have failed to prevent them, enabling them through inaction. We will have all told ourselves and others a better story about ourselves and our conduct than the whole truth reveal. And, as the book of Judges has repeatedly challenged us about, we will have all allowed ourselves, unconsciously and even consciously, to be shaped and enslaved by our culture rather than by the Lord, whose name we call on, just like Israel. (187)

We may rightly shake our heads in disbelief at the repeated unbelief Israel displayed through their idolatry against God, but we must be willing to see ourselves right there with them.

Who Can Help?

The book of Judges serves as a reminder that no matter what good qualities men may have and no matter how gracious God can be with His rebellious people, his people still fail and we need a better Judge. In short, the book of Judges leaves us with Israel languishing in a land they barely possess without a leader and desperately in need of a judge who can truly save his people. This savior will come without being called, will choose us without us having chosen him, will accomplish our salvation without us since we cannot do it ourselves nor contribute to it, will be victorious in death since we would remain dead and will remove evil from our hearts because we cannot, and will not, do it ourselves. (196) We need king Jesus!

Judges for You is now the best devotional I have read on the book of Judges. In classic Keller style your mind will be opened to the book in a fresh way and you will be challenged on every page. This is a must have for personal and group study on Judges. Keller puts you in the pages of Judges to show you why we all need Jesus, the perfect judge and savior.

Note: I received this book for free from The Good Book Co. through Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The words and thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

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Genesis in Space and Time by SchaefferAfter a unexpectedly long break from my reading and blogging through The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, 5 Volumes we are now into the 2nd volume A Christian View of the Bible as Truth. This volume contains Genesis in Space and Time, No Final Conflict, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History and Basic Bible Studies.

In Genesis in Space and Time, Schaeffer addresses the importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis as they relate to the flow of Biblical history (a key phrase and concept in this book and Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History). In the first three chapters Schaeffer deals with the six days of creation. Taking cue from Psalms 136, Schaeffer sets the stage for how he interprets Genesis 1-11, as a fact of space-time history.

The opening verse of Genesis, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,’ and the remainder of chapter 1 brings us immediately into a world of space and time. Space and time are like warp and woof. Their interwoven relationship is history. Thus the opening sentence of Genesis and the structure of what follows emphasize that we are dealing here with history just as much as if we talked about ourselves at this moment at a particular point of time in a particular geographic place. (7)

With the belief that Genesis 1-11 is presenting space time history there are several important aspects of the narrative that Schaeffer draws out.

First, the beginning of creation does not entail a beginning to God as creator. He must necessarily exist prior to creation itself for it to have a beginning (8). Pointing to Eph. 1:4 & 2 Tim. 1:9 Schaeffer turns our attention to the fact that the Godhead had an eternal relationship before creation. To aid in this discussion Schaeffer chooses the word sequence as opposed to time as it relates to the existence of things and creatures (9, 14). Further, Gen. 1:2 and Jn. 1:1-14 give us clear indication that each member of the Godhead not only existed before creation but also took part in it. Schaeffer has some great discussion on the intricacies of Jn. 1:1-3 as it relates to Christ and His existence before creation and activity at creation (12-14).

Second, the way in which God created is through His spoken word. This is creation by fiat. God as creator is much different then man as creator. While both may conceive of their creation in their minds, God created something from nothing while man creates something out of what already exists. God speaks things into existence and man shapes things into existence. Interestingly enough, Schaeffer briefly touches on the big bang theory stating that he does not feel that it can be owned by the Christian worldview based in Gen. 1. He states

The simple fact is that what is given in Genesis 1:1 has no relationship to the big band theory – because from the scriptural viewpoint, the primal creation goes back beyond the basic material or energy. Even if one accepts the big bang theory, Genesis 1:1 would then go beyond it by saying that God created out of nothing the primal stuff present at the big bang. We have a new thing created by God out of nothing by fiat, and this is the distinction (17).

As the big bang theory is proposed it requires something to be present in the universe from which the bang can proceed from. Genesis 1 reaches back farther then that to when nothing existed outside of God and He created everything.

Third, Schaeffer points out that at creation we see differences and divisions between the various things created. For example, the first point of differentiation and division occurs between the unformed and unfilled state of Gen. 1:2 to the creation of light in Gen. 1:3. There is a difference between the darkness that was and the light that was created. Further, the light that was created caused a natural division between the two. In reference to the significance repetition of the word “let” Schaeffer states, “In these places God is not so much making something come into being, or even differentiating it as being, as he is indicating what this sort of being means.” (22) Schaeffer walks the reader through the various states of difference and division such as “bare being to light…differentiated spaces, areas of water and earth, the nonliving and the living plants…..and the day and night on the earth…..between conscious and unconscious life,” and between man and the rest of creation (25-26).

Fourth, Schaeffer ties the complementary nature of Gen. 1 & 2 together with the historicity of Adam and Eve as the first pair of humans God created which to which every person every conceived can trace their lineage back to, thus, giving everyone the same original first progenitors. Schaeffer cites Jesus’ own words in Matt. 19 & Mark 10 in which Jesus refers to both Gen. 1 & 2 as referring to the same people – Adam and Eve. Perhaps the most shining support for the historicity of Adam and Eve as real people comes in Paul’s writings. Rom. 5:12-15, I Cor. 15:21,22, 2 Cor. 11:3, 8-9 and I Tim. 2:13-14 are all passages in which Paul clearly operates on the belief that they were real people just as Jesus Christ was. His theology of Christ is built on this historicity of Adam. “If we tamper with this ordinary way of understanding what is written in the Bible, the structure of Christianity is reduced to only an existential leap.” (29)

Fifth, though he does not linger on this topic, Schaeffer emphasizes the importance of man as created in the image of God which is the climax of creation and definite separation between man and the rest of creation. It is our imaging God that sets us apart from the rest of creation and is the basis for the next aspect of creation – mans dominion over creation.

Sixth, as created in the image of God man is given a form of rulership and authority over all creation. He is a steward and representative of God on the earth to the rest of creation. God formed all space and filled it with living creatures. In a similar way, man forms creation and fills it with more humans who are also created in God’s image (Gen. 5:3). We will get into in more in the next post when we discuss chapter four but Schaeffer quickly notes that the fall has not removed the image of God in man though it has tainted it (34).

Seventh, as we noted earlier, God existed before creation and therefore is independent of it in His existence. Further, creation is not an extension of God but is clearly distinct from it. It is here that we see some of the character of God. First, the mere existence of the world speaks to the existence of God. Second, we can clearly see that the world has order as opposed to chaos. It is because of the order of the universe that man is able to live and explore all God has made. Third, creation speaks to the goodness of creation despite the fallen nature it exists in. It’s goodness was not removed though it is tainted. Fourth, that God is personal is the only explanation for many things we observe in mankind like personality and communication.

Eight, with a beginning (Gen. 1-2) and an end (Rom. 8:21-23 & Rev. 19-21) we see that history is going somewhere (43). There will be an end to time as we currently experience it with the introduction of eternity and the new heavens and earth. The next sequence of events in the flow of history will begin.

Next week we will look at chapters four and five in Genesis in Space and Time in which Schaeffer will discuss the Fall and its effects on creation.

Comforting Hearts by Starr MeadeRecently there has been a resurgence, especially within Reformed circles, to revive the evangelical churches attention to utilizing catechisms for discipling believers at church and at home. This is a wholesome emphasis that will only bear good fruit for generations to come. Catechisms have a way of narrowing down the essence of a particular belief in a way that is conducive to memorization. They provide the church with a helpful teaching tool regarding the truths of Scripture.

Starr Meade is well known for her solidly biblical and theological books for children such as Grandpa’s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption and God’s Mighty Acts in Creation and Salvation. Her first book, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism, wonderfully introduced Christians to how catechisms can be used not just in the church setting but also for family devotions in the home.

Thirteen years later Starr has made her second devotional book with a catechism based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism published by P&R. If you are familiar with Training Hearts, Teaching Minds then this book follows the same pattern.

The entire Heidelberg Catechism is separated into 52 weeks of devotional material in which one or more questions and answers are dealt with over a five day period. Each chapter begins with the questions and answers to be covered for the week. No doubt, it will be beneficial to review these each day before reading through the daily discussion and accompanying biblical text. This will also aid in memorizing the catechism should you decide to do that. Depending on the age of your children and your daily schedule, some families might find it hard to get five days a week in for devotions. I know it is for us sometimes. So, don’t let the 52 week structure be a prison. Though it would naturally work better if you can complete the weeks questions and accompanying discussions in during a week but if not don’t feel guilty. Take two weeks if necessary. This is a guide and you will not be graded for finishing in more than 52 weeks!

Since the book is designed for family devotions each days reading is geared towards making sure the entire family can benefit from the discussion. Naturally, the youngest children might have a harder time understanding some concepts or words but in time they will grow in their understanding. This also gives the parents a great opportunity to teach their children some of the more difficult parts of Scripture and the language of the faith, as I like to call it. There are some concepts that are harder to understand than others and taking two days to cover them might be more beneficial.

Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds is a welcome addition to any families’ library of devotional books. It will help families and Christians renew an appreciation for catechisms. Though the language of the catechism itself is dated at times, Meade does a great job bringing truths of these old time tested teaching tools to bear on our lives. Though this book will find it way more into Reformed homes, I highly recommend it for all families.

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