The last actual class I took as part of my Th.M was an independent study on how to review books. The fruit of that class was these four reviews:
- In the Beginning Was The Word
- The Christian Faith
- The Doctrine of The Word of God
- Raised With Christ
The professor for that study (which was done after I had moved to Florida) was Dr. Glenn Kreider. Because of that, it feels kind of weird to now review his book God With Us.
While I don’t want to engage in hagiography, I really enjoyed this book and do not have any major criticism of it. The book is a clear and engaging biblical theology of how God condescends to relate to his people throughout the Bible. It has a conversational feel to it which I think reflects its genesis as material in a Baptist Sunday School class (aptly titled “Theology for the Rest of Us).
As a sidenote, one of the things I appreciated about my profs at Dallas was that many of them taught Sunday School. I think it helped refine and sharpen their communication since there are obscurities you can get away with in front of a group of seminary students that won’t fly with normal people (as I’ve been learning since graduation). This book reflects that sharpening. In other words, it is not quite the same biblical theology you’d find in a series like New Studies in Biblical Theology. Substantially, it’s in the same neighborhood, but this is biblical theology for normal people.
The book itself begins with theological foundations related to humility and condescension. The incarnation is a focal point, as well as the general condescesion that is involved where God reveals himself to us. Kreider ties both of these focal point together in the peron and work of Jesus Christ. He ultimately concludes:
In short, the behavior of the incarnate Son is consitent with the behavior of the God who is revealed prior to the incarnation. We see continuity between the two testaments in the character and practice of God. If the incarnation of the Son of God is a demonstration of humility and condescension, and if he did only what he saw his Father do, then reading the Old Testament should provide numerous examples of God’s condescension. (46)
Tracing those examples is the focus of chapters 3-5. Chapter interacts with the relevant stories from creation to Abraham. Chapter 4 starts with Isaac and carries through to the conquet in Joshua. Chapter 5 picks up with the monarchy, continues through the Psalms, and on to the Prophets.
Starting in chapter 6, the focus moves to the New Testament. Specifically, Kreider unpacks the birth narratives, geneaologies, and Jesus’ early life pre-public ministry. Then, in chapter 7, he focuses on Jesus’ teaching on greatness. Here we see how greatness is through humility and condescension, rather than seeking one’s own interests first. This theme resonates throughout the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus’ miracles, parables, and teachings on the kingdom.
Though the apostles didn’t seem to get it while Jesus was around, everything seemed to click post-Resurrection. We know this because we can see the themes of Jesus’ teaching on humility and condescension reverberate through the apostles teaching as Kreider points the way through chapter 8. In chapter 9, we move to the end of the biblical story in Revelation. Here, Kreider’s eschatological distinctives emerge, but it is not a major focal point. Rather, we see how the new creation is the ultimate condescension as God permanently makes his dwelling place with us on earth.
On the whole, I thought this was an excellent book. The material is well developed and Kreider draws from a deep well of theological reflection, particularly within the Reformed tradition (Bavinck shows up often). Further, many of the chapters open with poignant stories that bring the upcoming material into relevant focus. Coupled with Kreider’s clear style, this makes the book accesible to a broad audience. Additionally, the study questions in the end would aid in making this book a good candidate for small group discussion, or in my case, classrrom material for a senior Bible class. All in all, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of the book, and I’m not just saying that because the author practices well the attributes he explains in this book.
Glenn Kreider, God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People throughout the Bible. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, November 2014. 240 pp. Paperback, $14.99.
Visit the publisher’s page
Thanks to P&R Publishing for the review copy!