Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…


Okay, so first a bit of criticism. If you look at the trailer for the book Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ, you will learn that there has been “a conspiracy to cover up a truth that is so essential to the New Testament that without it we misunderstand our relationship to Jesus Christ.” There is a “hidden word that unlocks the believer’s identity,” which John MacArthur says, “…changes everything I perceive about the Christian life.” Wow, it sounds like The DaVinci Code for evangelicals. The back of the book tells me that “English translators perpetrated a fraud…and it’s been purposely hidden and covered up ever since”! Wow! This is going to be great stuff! What is this crazy conspiracy that has completely distorted the Christian faith for 600 years?

Well, opening the book to crack open this mystery, the preface informs me that the Greek word douloV is probably better translated “slave” than “servant” and that this mistranslation somewhat obscures the meaning of the Greek word. MacArthur assures the reader that, “Undoubtedly, the cover-up was not intentional,” and that’s the last we hear of any conspiracy in the book. Wait, what?! I suppose that the book trailer and blurb will probably find more readers for the book than if it were marketed as a straight theology book. However, it would have been nice if the advertising were more along the lines of, “Hey, I think most English versions mistranslate this particular Greek word, and so the full force of these passages is often missed in our Bible studies.”

Aside from the sensationalist marketing strategies, however, the book is quite good. MacArthur shows that we are more than mere “servants of Christ” but are truly “slaves of Christ,” bought with a price and subject to His will alone. The book is well-footnoted, which I appreciate, and MacArthur synthesizes a lot of thought on this idea of being God’s slave into one place. This is somewhat a continuation of one of the main themes of MacArthur’s teaching, namely that we cannot have Jesus as our Savior, if we do not also have Him as our Lord. Overall the best parts of the book are his expositions of Scripture where he unpacks how the slave idea bears on the way we view our relationship with God, while also remembering that we are slaves who have been adopted by our Master and made part of His household. There are a couple of historical excursions that run on a bit long, and it seemed in a couple of places that the book was straying from the main point. However, he ties it all together very nicely in the last chapter summarizing the force and direction of the book, and the Appendix is a wonderful collection of quotes from Church history that show the idea of being Christ’s slave as expressed by great theologians and pastors.

4/5 stars