So here’s the first of my book reviews. I thought I’d start with an easy one – a small and short little number from Matthias Media’s Little Black Book Series that’s all about one of my favourite subjects – The Bible.
I’ll give you my overall verdict, then go over it in a bit more detail.
Basically it’s a cracking little book and at around 50 pages long I was able to get through the whole thing in just 4 sittings (which isn’t bad for a slow-reader with 2 newborn babies!!)
The content is solid and it flowed well. It’s really well written and at times hilarious (and there’s not many Christian books that get away with using the word “erection” – well done Scott!) The first chapter sets the tone in explaining that the Bible is God’s precious, inspired Word – literally His very breath! It unpacks special revelation without leaving you feeling like you’ve been smashed over the head with a theological sledgehammer!
The second chapter addresses whether or not the Bible is accurate and trustworthy, addressing stuff like science, apparent contradictions etc. For me this was the hardest part of the book to get through. This might be because sleeplessness and lack of caffeine had finally caught up with me. However, I think it’s more likely because this series of books as a concept does have a flaw.
The books are so short, so accessible and so simply written that they are perfect for new believers and those who have little or any Bible background. But this becomes a problem when it comes to going deeper. The format just doesn’t lend itself to depth – which I think is a good thing! Not that depth is in any way wrong, it’s just if you want deep – there are scores of ‘normal’ sized books that will give you that. For me, I got the impression from chapter 2 that the author wanted to go deeper and had so much more to say, but was bound by the format. Consequently, I found it too deep for the target-audience. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t unbearably hard-going, but it did feel like going from driving on motorway (chapter 1) to a single-lane highway with traffic lights and roundabouts (chapter 2). But I’m so glad that I got through chapter 2 because…
Chapter 3 was like transitioning to a German Autobahn! In short, this chapter was sensational! It genuinely got my pulse racing. It was all about how the Bible teaches what God wants us to think and believe, and it really did hit the spot! The stand-out idea for me was that when it comes to guidance in life, the Bible should always be our first port of call and the final word – above tradition, logic and emotion. Here’s a flavour of it:
“The Bible is the first place we should look when it comes to working stuff out about God and life. And we should let the Bible have the final say on what we do and what we think, even if that’s different from what we’ve always done and thought (tradition); even if it’s different from what seems right to us (reason and logic); even it it doesn’t initially feel right (gut instinct). In actual fact, the Bible corrects tradition, informs reason and interprets experience and feelings.” (p.42)
Chapter 4 is just a few pages long and essentially signs off with the assertion that the Bible is all that we need to navigate our way through this crazy world and into the salvation that God offers us in Jesus. A solid conclusion to a compelling read.
However, perhaps the greatest endorsement I can give this book is that as a Pastor of a church with a high percentage of new/young believers who I long to see getting plugged in and passionate about the Bible, I can see myself needing to order a shed-load of copies of this little black book as it’s spot-on for that purpose.