(BNC) by Michael E. Brooks — A review of I AM: A Study of the True and Living God, edited by Jeremy W. Barrier and Charles R. Webb.
This volume consists of almost 200 pages containing 15 chapters (including the Introduction) contributed by a total of 13 authors, including the editors. The book was a response, first of all, to the need of Christians and evangelists in India for a study on the nature of God. After initial publication it was decided to adapt it to a wider audience in English.
“I Am” is an introduction to the nature and person of the God of the Bible, written on a popular (non-technical) level primarily for preachers and missionaries in less developed countries, and for those whom they seek to reach. In the first seven chapters its authors discuss classical theological categories (transcendence, eternal existence, personality, triune nature, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence) in simple and concise terms without historical presentation as to who developed or held various positions.
Beyond those categories the remainder of the book (chapters 8-14) explores various texts of Scripture to develop more fully the divine character. His mercy, goodness, holiness, justice, love, truthfulness, and immortality are presented with applications to current questions involving divine existence. For example in the chapter on God’s goodness by Dr. Edmund R. Gallagher, this quality is balanced against the reality of human suffering. How can a good God (who is also Almighty) allow the suffering of children or other innocents?
This kind of practical application is the distinctive characteristic of “I AM.” It is intended to help preachers, missionaries, evangelists, and Bible teachers identify and describe the one God of the Bible to pagan and secular audiences. There is a minimum of overt Christian evidences. This book is not intended to challenge atheism or agnosticism per se. Rather, it seeks to answer Moses’ question to God himself, “Who are you?” Or, in the New Testament context, “I AM” follows the apostle Paul by introducing God to those who have not previously known him (Acts 17:22-31).
Those of us who have lived most or all of our lives in the American “Bible Belt” are likely to be unaware of just how many people on the planet have no awareness, let alone understanding, of the God in whom we believe. God, our Creator, is vastly different in nature from the millions of deities accepted by Hindus and Buddhists, from the animistic spirits of much of Africa, or even from the single “Allah” of Islam.
Presenting the true God to those who are steeped in other religions is a difficult challenge. “I AM” contains much material to assist us in deepening our own understanding as well as to provide us with concepts and terminology which help us communicate that understanding to others who lack our background of faith.
The book is published by Cypress Publications, an imprint of Heritage Christian University in Florence, Ala.
The reviewer spends six months of the year in evangelism and training in Bangladesh and Nepal. He is the author of In Search of Perfection: Studies in Job.
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