"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
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"The Lord Is Good" by Christopher R.J. Holmes. A Review
The Lord Is Good: Seeking the God of the
Christopher R.J. Holmes
PO Box 1400
Downers Grove, IL 60515
ISBN: 978-0-8308-4883-6; $27.00; January
Friends I know who have been to
Africa tell me that they often have heard in African churches a responsive invocation,
where the leader declares one statement, and the congregation replies. “God is
good * all the time! All the time * God is good!” What a beautiful way for God’s
people to be reminded of the goodness of God no matter their circumstances. Yet
what does it mean to say that God is good. The idea of goodness, and especially
with reference to God, can mean different things for different people.
Christopher R.J. Holmes, associate professor in systematic theology at the
University of Otago in New Zealand, rigorously addresses the goodness of
God in his new 224 page softback, “The Lord Is Good: Seeking the God of the
Psalter”. This is a new installment in IVP Academic’s “Studies in Christian
Doctrine and Scripture” series. In a dense
and methodological style, the author seeks to “think theocentrically, to
present some of the gains accrued to the doctrine of God when it prioritizes
goodness and distinguishes it in relationship to God’s love” (2-3). Yet rather
than staging a display of abstractions and heady generalizations, Holmes leads
his readers in a “disciplined, prayerful, scripturally concentrated analysis of
God” (3). But be clear, this volume is not for the faint of heart.
The author grounds his work in
Scripture, specifically the Psalms; but they are more the presenters and hosts.
Most of Holmes’ discussion revolves around three interlocutors, and what they
say about the goodness of God as they look at various verses in the psalter.
Much attention is given to observations of both Augustine and Karl Barth. But
the main conversation partner is Thomas Aquinas. The volume is mildly concerned
with Biblical Theology, but heavily weighted toward both Systematic and
Historical Theology; and if I may possibly create a new category, Meditative
Theology. Though the book is dense and requires slow reading, the reflective aspect
of theology permeates the whole; “Theology assumes, I think, devotion, and it
encourages a renewed morality, for God’s goodness is a spiritual and moral good
that must be experienced before the theology is truly understood” (7).
“The Lord Is Good” works through
several foci. The subjects covered are the simplicity of God; what it means
that God is good; the Trinitarian aspect of that goodness; how God does good in
creation and providence; goodness and evil; God’s good Law; Jesus Christ as the
enfleshment of that goodness; and perfection. Though the subject matter moves meticulously,
nevertheless the material is for the reader’s “refreshment in the one who
always is supremely good” (181). I almost never carry my reading over into my
prayer journal, but as I read the volume I did find myself quoting, and
contemplating on, several observations Holmes made. I think the author’s
intention hit its mark, at least for me.
One of the major themes that comes to
the surface multiple times between these soft covers, is that God is good
without us, and yet God desires us for good. We do not add to God, but he adds
immeasurably to us; “Properly speaking, God does not desire us because God has
need of us. God’s love is good because God seeks and desires us for his own
sake, because God knows that there is nothing better for us than himself” (43).
More examples could be given, but I
would encourage the reader of this review to allow those two sentences to sink
in slowly, and observe how contemplative awe begins to well up in one’s
devotions and heart!
“The Lord Is Good” is a delightful
example of how theology can lead to wonderment! This volume should be added to classes
on Systematic Theology in seminaries. And I also believe pastors and ministers,
for the sake of their own vitality, ought to obtain a copy and mull it over. I
gladly recommend the book!
Thanks to IVP Academic for providing,
upon my request, the free copy of the book used for this review. The
assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as per Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).
When I was 20 years old, I was stationed in a Muslim country for two years. During that time I read the Quran (in an English translation from Oxford), interacted with Muslim acquaintances, and saw Islam lived out in it's communal context. Therefore I was excited when my mother gave me a copy of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus". With bazillions of reviews already plastered on the various sites and venues, mine will be short and succinct.
Nabeel Qureshi has woven together a very personal and personable volume written to give "an insider's perspective into a Muslim heart," as well as equip readers "with facts and knowledge, showing the strength of the case for the gospel contrasted with the case for Islam," while chronicling his own inner struggles, sacrifices and doubts when grappling with the Christian faith. The style of writing is autobi…
"When evil looms and darkness falls And tragedy is breaking When all that's good seems overturned By God I'm not forsaken For though I fall or wander far I'm not too far for saving And when my Shepherd seeks and finds How can I keep from singing" (229)?
So cantillates Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, mother, wife, writer, musician and abuse survivor, in her new 240 page hardback "Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse". This volume is the tale of her terrors and troubles at the hands of an abusive father, and it is far, far more. It is truly a story of life after abuse, abundant life found only in the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An easy to read book, it is ideally suited for those who have been traumatized and those who long to help the trampled! "I am not my abuser. I have a choice. I aspire to heal and grow by God's grace" (82).
It's a memoir, a series of journal entries telling a very human set of stories in a very friendly, personable way. It's not fully polished, but it's real, sometimes raw, and always forthright and frank! Holly Rench, Executive Director and co-founder of The Welcome Mission, has penned a touching series of real-life exploits, escapades, agonies and adversities of the women she has been involved with for over twelve years in this 231 page softback "At Home: The Incredible Story of The Welcome Mission".
Rench unravels the tangled lives of several of her and Marcus's "adopted" adult children describing their destructive pasts and how many of them, through love and hospitality, have moved further up and further on. But the tales are also filled with pitfalls and potholes that will jar the reader's suspension system's and rattle any self-righteous lug-nuts s…