Through New Eyes

Through New Eyes is the quintessence of James Jordan. Jordan always takes his readers by the hand and whirls them through a wonderland of symbols, connections, ideas, and paradigms. It's always a fun ride, and he always challenges his readers to think more deeply about the Bible. For that reason alone, Jordan is always worth a read.

In this book Jordan is trying to reawaken readers to the rich depth of symbolism in the world God created, especially as that world is described in Scripture. After taking time to talk about man, the animals, the structure of creation, plants, trees, stars, planets, rocks, and gems, Jordan specifically focuses on the repeated pattern of covenants in the Bible. He shows how with each new covenant there is a new heaven and new earth, better and more glorious than the one before. I had already read Peter Leithart's A House For My Name, but in Jordan I see the seed from which many of Leithart's ideas germinated.

The downside of Jordan is that he go…

The Broken Way

Ann Voskamp's style is hard for some people to take. Her books are prose poetry, and those who are interested in a strictly academic systematic theology will be disappointed. I find that her writing style is the most common criticism by people who don't like her books. I, however, love the way she writes. It's like an amalgam of T.S. Eliot and Bonhoeffer.

Another criticism I've heard of Voskamp is that her theology is heretical mysticism that perverts the gospel. I read one "discernment" blogger saying that she could hear the whispering of the serpent through Ann Voskamp's writing. I honestly don't get this one at all. I didn't find any trace of bad doctrine in this book at all. Maybe she emphasizes things in a different way than I would, maybe she uses non-standard theological vocabulary, but what she is presenting here is a pretty solid theology of suffering such as Martin Luther would have undoubtedly approved. She's also probably more well-read than most of her critics. When I read One Thousand Gifts I commented that I'd love to get my hands on her commonplace book. That goes for The Broken Way as well. She quotes Augustine, Luther, Calvin, a host of Reformers, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard...even Peter Leithart gets a citation here.

I would say the two basic ideas communicated in this book are:

1) suffering is not something to be avoided at all costs as if it's some great evil, but rather is one of God's main tools in sanctifying us and changing the world. By hiding our personal struggles and brokenness from others and pretending that we're living a life of glory, we miss out on the real blessing of Christian community and koinonia fellowship.

2) Christ is all-sufficient for all our trials and struggles, and Christ most often ministers to us through His people. The Church is a community of suffering sinners lifting one another up in Christ; it's a community of compassion.

A great book to help you refocus on the importance of the Church and the way we ought to be responding to one anothers' struggles and suffering as we live in community together.