A unique blend of Hip-hop and Theology
God Has Appeared
If you’re a genuine believer, you know for certain that God has appeared to His creation. Have you ever stopped to think about what this really means? Is the God of the Bible like the gods of pagan religion? Does He show up in ways that make Him seem more human than divine? Does He reveal Himself only to certain special people? Is He intersted in the people He created or does He stand far off passively watching? The answer to these questions and many more can be found within the pages of scripture. Vern Poythress’ excellent work Theophany aids readers in finding these answers, and many more, in scripture. In Theophany, Poythress set out (in 48 chapters!) to provide a thorough study of the various ways God appears in scripture, the purposes and patterns of His appearances, the progression of His appearing in the Old Testament, and His appearances to the Church in the New Testament—especially in the Son and Holy Spirit.
A Pastor’s Book
As a preacher and pastor, Theophany will be of great use in my preaching, teaching, counseling, and writing. Poythress’ in-depth writing on the various appearances of God will prove to be useful no matter what section of scripture I find myself in. Whether I am nestled deep in the intricate wording of Pauline epistles or traveling the broad scope of an Old Testament historical book, God will appear. When I am in the prophets or teaching from the apocalyptic texts, God is there also. Poythress not only shows this to his readers, but he walks them through the intricacies of those theophanies and how they point to the broader theme of God appearing to His creation and particularly to those who have placed their faith in Him. Theophany will prove to be a useful tool for God-centered preaching anytime we encounter God’s presence, whether physically or metaphorically, in the biblical text.
A Believer’s Book
This book is easily accessible and will prove to be a blessing for any believer seeking to more deeply understand and worship the God Who has come. The majority of this book is devoted to the Old Testament theophanies and how God made Himself known to the world in the days before Christ. As an evangelical in 2018, I can see a great need for more depth of knowledge in the Old Testament. We live in times where the Old Testament comes under fire from mainline and so-called evangelical preachers more often than we would like to admit. Poythress has provided a great resource for believers to use while engaging with God in the largest three-fourths of His written word.
To Stimulate Worship
Theophanies wasn’t merely written as an academic book reserved for library shelves and seminary bookstores. Poythress’ work is written to stir us up in our communion with God. His concluding sentences remind us of the monumental focus and aim we should have in all of our theology:
“Because God is God, in the communion and indwelling of the persons of the Trinity, he is pleased to present himself to us in his manifestation and his appearing. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, world without end! May the reality of our communion with God stimulate us to serve God in the hope of the fuller communion to come: He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22: 20)”
Rating: 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
***Before you refuse to ever read my blog again, let me state this clearly: "How To Be A Perfect Christian" by the Babylon Bee is complete satire! And it is hilarious!
Perfect Christians Read Perfect Books, Right?
In a not-so-subtle way, Babylon Bee works to undercut foolish notions of cultural Christianity by exposing them as they are. Rather than just stating the facts and discussing how the notions are wrong, they write a guide that is meant to seem serious. In many ways, this book is an excellent dose of winsome satire. At other times this book seems to be an outright assault on certain groups of Christians who probably think they are perfect and have it all together. From the negative reviews on Amazon, you can see that some people were offended by this in-your-face style of writing.
Balance Is Key
One of my favorite aspects about this book is that it is very balanced in it's critiques of modern cultural Christianity. It doesn't just make fun of overzealous Arminians, it also takes jabs at cage-stage Calvinists. Not only does it poke fun at fundamentalist, suit-wearing KJV-onlyists, it also points at the bearded, cigar-smoking ESV-only crowd as well. Seriously, there is not a Christian stereotype or caricature that is not represented here. And while it is meant to be fun and playful, it also does a good job of pointing to the folly of cultural Christian norms.
A Good Book For Mature Saints
This book is certainly not for the immature Christian for a number of reasons:
1. There is no explicit mention that this book is satire. I can't recall seeing anywhere in the introduction or conclusion that this book is satirical. Thus, putting this book in the hands of a new believer could be taken wrongly.
2. The subtle jabs could be hurtful to some folks who don't understand the nature of a work like this. For example, the section about bible translations could leave a person confused on why the NIV carries the connotation of being wishy-washy or why those who know the Greek text are mocked. Again, this is satire, but some believers may not be mature enough to understand this.
3. The distortions of the gospel in this book are not intentionally corrected, so a reader could walk away seeing the distortion while not being able to correct it. Jesus came as a man, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and called all people everywhere to repent and believe in Him. The gospel distortions seen in this book lose sight of this reality in some way or another.
Good, Clean Comedy
As a person with a dry sense of humor, I LOVE books like this. Babylon Bee is a good way to get a daily laugh from the headlines. Flipping to any page in "How To Be A Perfect Christian" is sure to draw a laugh. Just make sure you're able to laugh at yourself or you might end up angry by the time you finish reading this book.
Rating: 4/5. I would give it a 5 if it had a disclaimer about satire and a section that explicitly presented the gospel.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to review this book.
Sola Gratia: Grace Alone