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Well, summer is officially over. I finished up teacher orientation last week, so school is basically back in session. As you can see, I still managed to do a good bit of reading, making a bit of progress on Tim Challies Reading Challenge. That will slow down considerably this month, and probably for the fall as a whole. As I’ve though about it, I’ll probably need to write a post or two about the different approaches to reading I take in different seasons of life. I don’t want to spoil that here though. Also, if you missed it, check out my theological add-on to Challies Challenge.

Here’s what I read in July, that I won’t write on elsewhere:

And here’s what I’ll end up posting a review on sooner or later:

Lastly, if you’re keeping score at home, I’m up to 66 books in the lists below, but I’ve read 104 new books total this year.

Here’s the whole list, in case you’re curious (and even if you’re not):

THE LIGHT READER (9 BOOKS)

THE AVID READER (10 BOOKS)

THE COMMITTED READER (14 BOOKS)

THE OBSESSED READER (33 BOOKS)

(image via challies)

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A lot can change in a decade. I suppose that’s stating the obvious, but bear with me. On August 1st, 2006, I was also living in Florida, temporarily at least. I was working what would be my last summer at Word of Life. I had come back to be a unit leader again over the high school staff, but I was a bit preoccupied with taking 9 hours of psych classes by distance at the same time. I was also dating a Starbucks co-worker of questionable morals from back in Tennessee. It wasn’t the best summer.

Moving forward a year, I’m not exactly sure what I did on August 1st, 2007. I do know that I was just under two weeks from my first day in Dallas. I had broken up with the previously mentioned girl about 4 months earlier and applied to go to seminary starting in the fall. On this particular Wednesday, I probably worked an opening shift at Starbucks, came home and worked out, and then spent some time reading on the back porch. Or packing. But probably reading.

Because I like foreshadowing, on Friday, August 1st, 2008, I drove from Dallas to Tampa in a day. This was the first such time I had attempted this kind of feat, and it was the beginning of a Sabbatical month. I left at 4am and got to Word of Life around 10pm. The girl I had just broken up with wished me safe travels (thanks for the reminder Facebook!). I spent the night in George Theis’ house in the RV park because I had connections (thanks Todd!). The next day, I met up and hung out with Ali, and when she hugged me, she knew she wanted to marry me. I figured it out about 2 months later.

So then, on Saturday August 1st, 2009, we got married.

Now, August 1st is one of those dates I pay attention to and remember. While 2006-2007, and every August 1st before that is hardly significant, every August 1st from 2008 onward, has been significant and today is no different. Ali and I get to celebrate 7 years of marriage and hopefully that’s just a dent in our time together. It only takes four years to get a masters degree in theology, but 7 years in and I’m still figuring things about Ali out.

I suppose that’s perfectly normal right? I wouldn’t trade our deep friendship and story for anyone else’s. Each year is better than the last and every week’s a new adventure. And speaking off that, I just saw her car coming up the road from my office window. So, I could keep writing, but we’ve got an adventure to go on. Love you babe!

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As a general rule, if Sinclair Ferguson has written a book, you should probably look into it. Even more so if it touches on hot button issues like legalism and antinomianism. While it might surprise some readers, there is much to be learned from a theological controversy from the 1700’s.

His most recent book, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance – Why The Marrow Controversy Still Matters, as the subtitle suggests, introduces readers to the “marrow” controversy. If you’re not familiar, this controversy relates to the book The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher. As Ferguson clarifies in the introduction,

[This] is not a study of The Marrow of Modern Divinity as such, although reference will be made to it. It is not an historical analysis of the often heated Marrow Controversy, although that serves as the background to it. Nor is it a study of the theology of Thomas Boston, although his name regularly appears in it.

Perhaps the best way to describe it is by borrowing from the world of classical music: The Whole Christ might well be subtitled, “Variations on themes from The Marrow Controversy.” It is an extended reflection on theological and pastoral issues that arose in the early eighteenth century, view from the framework of the present day. (19)

The first chapter proper is mostly historical background for the study. Starting in chapter 2, Ferguson tackles several theological topics. He begins with grace, which in a sense, is the topic of the whole study. He explains that the chapters that follow will focus on four topics (37):

  1. The gospel of the grace of God and its offer to all (chapters 2-3)
  2. The gospel and legalism (chapter 4-6)
  3. The gospel and antinomianism (chapter 7-8)
  4. The gospel and assurance of salvation (chapter 9-11)

Through it all, Ferguson does a much need job of distinguishing real legalism from the call to obedience, real antinomianism from the free offer of grace and Christ, and how the assurance of salvation truly works (sorry). With a general culture that is prone to extremes and a Christian culture that is often not much different, it is helpful to have a nuanced book on the topic of sanctification like this. For anyone working in pastoral ministry, this book is worth grabbing. Even if you’re not a pastor, your church background may have left you with some legalistic baggage. Ferguson’s book can offer a much needed remedy.

The one difficulty readers might have is the jumps back to the 18th century. There are a fair amount of lengthy block quotes, meaning the book requires a bit of patience. But then again, what book doesn’t? I suppose some of this could have been smoothed out, but on the other hand, you could be trying to read John Owen.

At the end of the day, this book is something I’ll probably give a second read. It covers issues pertinent to discipleship and Christian growth. It unmasks legalism and antinomianism alike, and clarifies the gospel. What more could you want?


Sinclair Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance – Why The Marrow Controversy Still MattersWheaton: Crossway, Januaray 2016. 256 pp. Hardcover, $24.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

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Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!

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If you know me personally, you have to be aware that I like animals. Not all animals mind you. Just pretty much all mammals, penguins, and the occasional interesting reptile. A key factor in my sports allegiance is that I like dolphins as animals. I’ve researched how to legally obtain a bear cub short of living in Russia (hint: Montana). I still chase squirrels and any other critter I come across in the wild (read: suburban Orlando).

For all this interest in animals, I haven’t done much theological reflection on their purpose. In other words, I take them as a given facet of creation but haven’t wondered why they might exist (other than for my amusement). I have a similar relationship with music, although I’ve actually done a bit of research there.

Whether one is interested or not, there are not many books or articles that give a theology of animals. Thankfully, David Clough has been doing some research to remedy that. Now in paperback (and so accessible to people who aren’t research libraries) his On Animals: Vol. 1 Systematic Theology lays a foundation that will eventually be supplemented by a volume on ethics.

The current volume is divided into three sections: Creation, Reconciliation, and Redemption. The first comprises three chapters which explore the role of animals in creation, as well as their continuity and discontinuity with humans. The second section uses two chapters to examines the relationship Christ’s incarnation and atonement have on the animal kingdom. The final section raises questions about the scope of redemption and then what our redeemed living ought to look like. This provides a nice setup for his anticipated follow up work.

I imagine you’d like some predicates to go with those subjects. In the first section, Clough argues for a stronger continuity between humans and animals as creatures of God. Discontinuity is noted, but since the received wisdom to accent that, Clough highlights ways in which that thinking can be misguided. While made in the image of God, we stand in solidarity with other creatures as a recipients of God’s address.

In the second section Clough does some historical tracing to support the idea of sin in the animal kingdom. He likewise argues for Christ’s incarnation being for creation as a whole, returning again to the idea of creaturely solidarity. Finally, he makes the interesting point that Christ’s death is often construed as an animal sacrifice, thus identifying him with the animals in some way.

In the final section Clough raises redemptive and eschatological questions when it comes to animals. Attention is drawn to how often depictions of creaturely harmony in the eternal involve animals. They are not incidental details. Likewise, returning to Christ’s death, it saved humans but it also saved a significant number of animals from death by ritual sacrifice. Just as humans longed to be redeemed from the bondage of sin and death, a significant subset of animals were condemned to die through the sacrificial system.

On the whole, I might not agree with everything here, but I’d recommend this study of a recently neglected topic. Other than Anthony Thiselton’s recent short systematic (which explicitly references Clough), I don’t think I’ve seen much reference to animals in theology. Clough’s volume draws from a history of Christian thought on the subject giving readers a good framework for beginning to think constructively on their own on this topic. Even if you don’t chase squirrels, if you’re a fan of systematic theology this is worth getting your hands on. Unlike squirrels, it won’t bite if you do.


David L. Clough, On Animals: Volume 1: Systematic TheologyNew York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, January 2014. 240 pp. Paperback, $39.95.

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Thanks to Bloomsbury for the review copy!

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I am frequently asked about book recommendations. Mostly these are for friends who want to read a good theology book or two. Occasionally I am asked about commentaries by the more adventurous readers (and you can read a response to that here). If you’re not aware (and even if you are), there are a plethora of available modern commentaries on every book of the Bible (for the most part). Knowing what is useful within the available options is a fairly monumental task for the uninitiated.

Thankfully, Zondervan recently published (and sent my way) A Guide to Biblical Commentaries and Reference Works by John F. Evans. According to the cover, this is the 10th edition, but from what I can tell, this is the first actual published edition from Zondervan. While there are other options (notably the guides that cover Old and New Testaments separately from Baker Academic), I think this should be the new go-to for interested readers and virtually every seminary student.

It is a hefty volume in its own right, coming in at just over 450 pages. The print is small as well, so there is a plethora of information to wade through. Thankfully, there is a guide to the many symbols early on, and then an excellent introduction that not only points readers to other available commentary bibliographies, but gives an overview for evaluating commentaries.

The next section gives a thorough rundown on the available commentaries series out there. Evans is generally evaluating the series from a middle of the road conservative evangelical viewpoint. Basic distinctions are drawn out so that for instance, the reader can have a general idea of the difference between a volume in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC) and a volume in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament series (NICOT). This material alone is a significant help. Just to know what a given series aims to do within the world of biblical commentaries, apart from the next considerations that go into each and every volume in that series, is something that may not come until late in a student’s seminary studies.

For roughly the next 400 pages, Evans takes readers through the Bible book by book, shedding light on the available commentaries for each. He very helpfully includes available reviews in published journals for many of the commentaries. He also offers sections on reference works related to sections of Scripture (i.e. Pentateuchal Studies). This culminates in the terminal sections which offer a short bibliography for a bare-bones library, then an ideal basic library for a pastor, followed by the ultimate reference library of roughly 8-10 key volumes per biblical book.

While I obviously didn’t read this book cover to cover, it wasn’t meant to be used in that way anyway. It is meant to purchased by most seminary students and pastors so they can consult it before making commentaries purchases. This may be the first edition published by Zondervan but you can tell it has been honed and refined over many years leading up to this edition. And while new commentaries will continue to be published, many of the best references are already available. If you use this tools provided by this volume, you ought to be able to evaluate new commentaries more accurately and so continue to make wise use of your resources.

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An increasingly common mode of theology is retrieval. Maybe that’s not the right way to phrase it, but the idea is that we aren’t the first people to ask theological questions. Just maybe some important voices from the past can shed light on our contemporary questions. If one is merely explaining what the past voices said, it’s historical theology. If you’re drawing the historical sources into the present it’s retrieval.

Marc Cortez has done a masterful job of this in his recent Christological Anthropology In Historical Perspective: Ancient and Contemporary Approaches to Theological Anthropology. While Zondervan doesn’t want to own the fact they published this on their website, they sent me a review copy nonetheless. You’ll notice the word “anthropology” shows up in the title and the subtitle. If I were to take a stab at rewording the title to eliminate jargon, it would actually be longer than it already is. It might help though if you’re new to this type of terminology. Basically, Cortez book is a study of how past voices have understood the man Jesus Christ and how that helps us understand humanity in a theological sense.

His chosen conversation partners are:

  • Gregory of Nyssa
  • Julian of Norwich
  • Martin Luther
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher
  • Karl Barth
  • John Zizioulas
  • James Cone

The last two names are actually consider modern, and I suppose Barth is as well. Luther gives us a Reformer’s perspective and Schleiermacher and Enlightenment tinted one. Julian of Norwich gives us a medieval and mystical point of view, and Gregory of Nyssa represents the Church Fathers well.

These historical perspectives are bracketed by an introduction that explains what it means to use a Christ-centered lens for the study and a conclusion that points toward how this study can help our understanding of ourselves. For the former, Cortez explains,

In its most basic form, the fundamental intuition of a christological anthropology is that beliefs about the human person (anthropology) must be warranted in some way by beliefs about Jesus (christological). We will explore more deeply what this “in some way” actually means through these various studies. Even without a more precise explanation, through, the distinctive nature of a christological anthropology is that Christology warrants at least some anthropological claims in such a way that those claims are only true in virtue off the truth of their christological ground (20).

The two questions that then frame the study are “what does is mean to say that Christology somehow grounds anthropological claims?” And second, what issues in anthropology can such christologically oriented anthropologies meaningfully address?” (23) In the conclusion, Cortez makes a distinction between minimal and comprehensive christological anthropologies (225):

  • A minimally christological anthropology is one in which (1) Christology warrants important claims about what it means to be human and (2) the scope of those claims goes beyond issues like the image of God and ethics
  • A comprehensively christological anthropology is one in which (1) Christology warrants ultimate claims about true humanity such that (2) the scope of those claims applies to all anthropological data

He then notes that all of the case studies he worked through are the latter. Ultimately, each case study Cortez presents is from a perspective that is “convinced that a christological vision is necessary for a theologically adequate understanding of the human person,” yet also demonstrates “continued diversity within this common conviction” (232). In other words, they share a philosophical base even if they reach some varied theological conclusions. The authors are asking different questions and responding to different challenges. What Cortez suggests is that bringing these different perspectives to bear in our modern (and/or postmodern) context can be a fruitful theological project. These past theologians provide a kind of methodology that we can and should utilize in the present.

While not long, this book is fairly dense and it’s not something you’ll want to take the beach for light reading (unless you’re weird). The individual chapters can be read out of order (if you’re into that) but it is a commitment to really sit down and read a single chapter at once. I wouldn’t recommend pausing in the middle. It’s not actually that bad, I just want you prepared.

If you or someone you love is interested in studying the human person in light of theology and more importantly, Jesus Christ, this book is worth procuring. You don’t need a seminary degree to read and benefit from it, but you probably do need to be used to academic theological writing. If you are, you’ll benefit from listening to key voices from the past in order to have the tools to better understand the present (I think I said that before).

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Few theologians are doing more to revitalize theology in content and form than Kevin Vanhoozer. While I think I would recommend pretty much all of his books, his most recent Pictures at a Theological Exhibition: Scenes of the Church’s Worship, Witness and Wisdom, might be the best for getting acquainted with his thought.

As a collection of essays, many of which began as oral presentations, you are able to get a “snapshot” of Vanhoozer in his element, but without necessarily committing to a sustained theological argument spanning several hundred pages. His Drama of Doctrine changed my life, but it’s not for the faint of heart. And in fact, this collection of essays is for people who want to see his theodramatic systematics at work without committing to reading his “Great Pumpkin.” While not necessarily a sustained argument, it at least indirectly offers a sustained plea for “incorporation the imagination into the work of theology as a sapiential systematics” (12).

Having established all this, Vanhoozer offers a formal introduction to his collection of essays, seeing the imagination as a helping provide the metaphors by which a holy nation lives. There, he explains that his “working hypothesis throughout this book is that the church needs a biblically formed, reformed and transformed imagination in order to live out a vital faith (44). He then explains that the chapters the follow are organized like an art exhibit. Because after all, what is a Vanhoozer book without a metaphor operating at the theoretical level? He continues explaining by saying,

The reader proceeds through a foyer and then through three galleries. Each gallery contains various biblical exhibits: essays that depict various scenes of the church’s worship, witness and wisdom. Each part of the book also includes a sermon – an exercise in faithfully imagining biblical truth (44).

The promenade begins in the foyer, where I discuss certain introductory matters of “prolegomena” – suggestions for imagining biblical authority and evangelicalism – including the importance of the imagination. The first gallery focuses on the church as a royal priesthood and examines scenes of the church’s worship. The second gallery looks at the church as a school of prophets and focuses on Christian witness. The third and final gallery visits scenes that dramatically test the church’s wisdom (44).

Vanhoozer suggests that these three galleries correspond to the three offices that characterized Israel’s life as holy nation and that apply the work of Christ. In other words, prophet, priest, and king. He then provides five unifying themes as we prepare to “view” these “scenes” (45-46):

  1. A common concern for the well-being and edification of the church
  2. A concern for what it means for the church to be biblical and for theology to be a species of biblical reasoning
  3. An assumption that the unity of the Bible is a function of the divine drama of redemption that it recounts, and of which it is an ingredient
  4. A concern to rehabilitate the evangelical imagination
  5. A common goal that doctrinal theology be eminently practical, ministering understanding and vision to head, heart and hand.

With all that in mind, the essays that follow are vintage Vanhoozer. Because most were originally oral addresses, they are fairly accessible, although as a writer, Vanhoozer is generally accessible anyway. Just consider it a bonus that these essays are stand alone and easily digestible, although still thought provoking and imagination stoking. As such, you can work though the book however you please, but I went through it chapter to chapter.

Considering both Vanhoozer’s importance, and the importance of the topics he continues to address, this book is worthy of your attention. Whether you’ve never read anything by him, or read everything by him, there is still something to gain from paying attention to his work here.


Kevin Vanhoozer, Pictures at a Theological Exhibition: Scenes of the Church’s Worship, Witness and WisdomDowners Grove, IL: IVP Academic, March 2016. 327 pp. Paperback, $20.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

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Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!

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Recently, IVP Academic has stepped up their series game. In the past they’ve released the Christian Worldview Integration series, Contours in Christian Theology, and several commentary series. They continue to publish titles in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series, as well as the Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology series.

Now, they’ve added the Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture series, and thanks to their generosity, I’ve gotten the first two volumes. In brief, the series “promotes evangelical contributions to systematic theology, seeking fresh understanding of Christian doctrine through creatively faithful engagement with Scripture in dialogue with Catholic tradition(s)” (back insert).

The series will be edited by Daniel Treier and Kevin Vanhoozer, so it is only fitting that they coauthor the inaugural volume, Theology and The Mirror of Scripture: A Mere Evangelical Account. Like any book associated with Vanhoozer, you can see the allusion game is already strong in just the title. In the opening Unscientific Preface to Mere Evangelical Theology, the authors state “we do not pretend to give a universally compelling description of what evangelicals in fact profess and practice. Our intention is rather to offer a normative proposal of what evangelicals ought to profess and practice, if they would be truly evangelical – if they would correspond to the gospel that is according to the Scriptures” (11).

The book that follows offers readers an agenda (part 1) that explains the material and formal principles of evangelical theology (first two chapters, an leaning into Rorty’s mirror analogy). Then, the authors offer an analysis of what the practice of theology ought to look like (chapters 3-6). Here, we see theology is ultimately in search of wisdom, and that not surprisingly given the authors, this includes a good dose of theological exegesis. It also includes theology in a community and with high standards of excellence.

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The next volume published in this series is Political Church: The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule by Jonathan Leeman. As he explains right off the bat in the preface,

This book has two main goals. The first is to replace the map of politics and religion that many Christians have been using since the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century with a more biblical one. The second is to explain where the local church fits onto this redrawn map as a political institution or embassy of Christ’s rule (13).

My prayer for this book is that it would give you, the reader, a better understanding of what the Bible says about church as well as how it describes the political map on which the church serves the purposes of Christ’s kingdom. And I pray that it might equip you in the work of building up your local congregation in holiness and love for Christ’s kingly purposes (17).

To accomplish all of this, Leeman starts with two basic questions: what is politics? (chapter 1) and what is an institution? (chapter 2).  Pretty straightforward, but it takes about 100 pages to answer these questions. But it accomplishes goal #1 so Leeman can spend the next four chapters devoted to goal #2. In successive chapters, he covers the politics of creation, fall, new covenant, and kingdom.

It is hard to imagine a more timely book with the upcoming election season upon us. If you are a bit more conversant with political theology than I am, you might want to check out this more in-depth review and response over at Mere Orthodoxy (part 1, part 2, response, questions, joint statement). You might want to just pick up a copy for yourself. Who’s to say?

In both of these cases though, you have solid evangelical contributions to Christian doctrine. As a general rule, if Vanhoozer had a hand in writing something, you probably want to grab it. And when he’s editing a series with Dan Treier, you better put it on your watch list. If you’re invested in the development of evangelical theology, you’re going to want to add both of these titles to your library.

You can see the publisher’s page for both here and here, and get a sneak peek at the newest volume that comes out later this year here.

 

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For a couple of years now, I’ve been a staff writer with a website called Christ and Pop Culture. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me reference it, and perhaps link to articles I’ve written. Recently, my writeup on Unashamed posted (a good companion to The Soul of Shame) and you can get it free for a brief time. You can read my full write up here.

That’s right, by being a member of Christ and Pop Culture, you can support the writers who put out pretty stellar content on the site, and get free books (and other stuff too). You can read more about membership here. In my time doing the write ups, here’s some of the books that were available:

That should give an idea of the track record of books that are offered. Recently, I was working on a write-up for David Dark’s Life’s too short to pretend you’re not religious, Due to a slight miscommunication, a more full length essay was already commissioned on it, and you should be able to read that here. Before I found that out, IVP had graciously sent me a hard copy of the book, so I felt like I should still post my thoughts on it.

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Dark writes in a meditative style, which makes the book a fairly easy read. However, he is helping readers reflect on their religious practices. Many of these might not seem to be so religious on the surface, and so Dark’s style helps disarm readers and move them toward reflection. In doing so, he shows that if we have entered into relationships with others and with facets of our culture, we have engaged to some extent in religious practices. Culture itself is intimately tied to religion and Dark subtly unmasks the connection. You can get a better feel for what he’s up to in the book by watching this video. Had you been a member before now, you would have just snagged yourself a copy!

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Another book that I received thanks to Crossway before I knew it would be free for members is Andy Naselli and J.D. Crowley’s Conscience What It Is, How To Train IT, and Loving Those Who Differ. I liked this book so much that I immediately put it to use in class and decided to require it next year for my 11th grade Bible class. There are several diagrams within that I tried to recreate on the board (which is difficult for a lefty, but I’m a professional at this point). I am told it was helpful to several students as they prepare to navigate going away to college and starting to live by a different set of rules (or at least not having as many rules as previously).

While a short book, I think it does a masterful job of covering a much neglected topic in practical theology. D. A. Carson thought so too and that’s probably why he wrote the foreword. As try to navigate the straits between legalism and licentiousness, a book like this helps to clarify the discussion and offer a way for Christians to think about their Christian liberty and how it relates to those in their community. I would highly recommend this book, and it’s free if you’ve become a Christ and Pop Culture member by now. If not, why keep waiting?

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We all have a story. One thing all of stories unfortunately have in common is incidents of shame. To one degree or another, shame becomes part of virtually all of our stories. For some, it is not an incidental detail in a larger story but the bulk of the story itself.

Along these lines, Curt Thompson introduces his book The Soul of Shame: Retelling The Stories We Believe About Ourselves. He says, “This, then, is a book about the story of shame. The one we tell about it, the one it tells about us, and even more so the one God has been telling about all of us from the beginning. Most important, this book also examines how the story of the Bible offers us a way not only to understand shame but also to effectively put it to death, even if that takes a lifetime to accomplish” (12-13). He continues,

The premise of this book, then, is that shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to (1) corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and (2) disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity. These gifts include any area of endeavor that promotes goodness, beauty and joy in and for the lives of others, whether that be teaching our first graders, loving our spouse well, managing forests, conducting healing prayer services, creating a new medical technology, offering psychotherapy or composing symphonies (13)

From this premise, Thompson, a psychiatrist specializing on the intersection between interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) and spiritual formation, unfolds the story and definition of shame in the first chapter. In the following two chapters, he draws on his specialization in IPNB to help readers better understand the nature of shame at that level. This leads to a discussion in chapter 4 about our nature as storytelling creatures and chapter 5 then places this within the biblical narrative.

Starting in chapter 6, Thompson presents a path forward. Healing from shame requires vulnerability, and that tends to take place in community with others. He discusses here how the shame that we feel and have internalized often works against us when it comes to actually overcoming it (see for instance the Brene Brown TED talks). Chapter 7 gives readers ways to address their shame using Scripture. Chapter 8 takes this into community and how that can either nurture shame or be catalysts for healing. Chapter 9 finishes with an eschatological touch as Thompson casts vision for how our freedom from shame can lead to joyfully engage our various creative callings.

While I would take a few things here and there with a grain of theological salt, this is a valuable book for those engaged in ministry. You don’t have to be a full-time counselor to encounter people who are burdened by shame. You might even be so yourself. Thompson’s insights from IPNB, as well as the idea that shame can take on a life of its own to be put to demonic means (Thompson prefers personify evil) were my main takeaways from the book. I might have switched chapters 4 and 5 as well, giving the biblical background and foundation first, then expanding the idea of lives as storytelling creatures. On the whole though, this is a well written book that covers an important topic. I’d recommend giving it a read.


Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling The Stories We Believe About OurselvesDowners Grove, IL: IVP Academic, August 2015. 256 pp. Hardcover, $22.00.

Buy itAmazon

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!