Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Review - The Living God (The Heart of Christian Faith) (28/8)

Other than the book ‘Knowing God’ by J. I. Packer, can you think of another book that talks about who God is (that’s not a part of a systematic theology textbook) and that’s targeted for the everyday christian? I think you’ll have to think rather hard about that. But that’s why this book is so needed!

41PSHKCK4VLThis is the 2nd book in this series, and in this book Alister McGrath seeks to teach the reader in 5 chapters some basic truth about who God is. The format of this book is not like akin to other christian books that’s currently on the shelf, rather it’s formatted very nicely to be similar to lectures given by the author to the reader. The reader seemingly encouraged to take a seat and ‘listen in’ to the series of 5 ‘lectures’.

Building on from his previous book on Creeds in the series, McGrath logically moves on to the important topic of the identity of God — Who God is. McGrath moves through the Old and New Testament with ease, bringing the readers to attention about what the Bible tells us about who God is. Within the first chapter, he expands on 2 metaphors that describes about God, God as the Rock and God as the Shepherd.

In the second and third chapter, McGrath ‘personalised' God, God is not just one who’s wholly other, He is a personal God, one who is loving and faithful, and one who has power, compassion and understands suffering. Within this 2 chapters, McGrath introduces to the readers what the Bible means when it says God is our Father. Next, he explains what christians mean when we say God is able to do all things, and how only the God of the Bible is able to understand our suffering fully, because He is one who has suffered — in person — alongside with us.

Next, McGrath explains what it means when we say God is a Creator, within this chapter is a very interesting part on how he deals with people often say they would have done a much better job than God had they been in-charge. Also McGrath highlights in this chapter how science and the Bible does not contradicts each other, rather it complements each other as they are each answering a different question.

The last chapter McGrath tackles the hardest topic within the God, Trinity. This chapter is really worth the price of the book. I find this chapter exceptionally well-written, in it he humbly tells us that it is really impossible for us to fully comprehend how God can be triune yet one. Yet, he gives us hope that even if we do not understand it fully in a simple formulae (as life often is), it is okay, we are merely finite creatures. Then McGrath moves on to the practicable aspects of this doctrine.

What I hope could be improved in this book would be the inclusion of discussion questions at the end of each other or at the end of the book, there’s so much in each chapter that they would be enough to sustain one discussion session.

I would recommended this book for new believer who wants to really grow in their knowledge of who God is, or for older believers who are intimidated by systematic theology textbooks. This will be a good place to start!

Rating: 4/5

If you're interested you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.