Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JMAT 17:2 (Fall 2013) p. 153
Life’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says about the Things that Matter Most. Erik Thoennes. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. 176 Pages. $12.99
Reducing complex and difficult theological constructs and questions to core understandable bite size nuggets is no easy task. Often these theological issues are simply minimized, portrayed as unattainable and unimportant or they are so distorted that readers simply give up further reflection.
Thoennes has written a very accessible, interesting introductory book that allows the Scriptures to speak to core issues. Essentially this book serves as a very basic introduction to categories of systematic theology. The book is composed of sixteen chapters overviewing topics such as the existence of God, loving God, God’s revealing of Himself, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, what is humanity, what is sin, etc. Each chapter starts with a pithy quote followed by a general introduction. Then a brief overview of a core doctrine is provided with key passage. Each chapter concludes with a scripture and meditations section followed by application/ discussion questions and suggested resources for further study.
The book is a refreshing theologically conservative gateway into core doctrines for the Christian Faith. The author responsibly models a conservative hermeneutical and theological method that differentiates between essential, absolute doctrines vs. lower level doctrines held by degrees of conviction vs. simple opinions (p35). He also advocates the basis of theology as exegesis of the biblical text which then formulates a biblical theology from which systematic theology evolves. So the book does generally portray a balanced doctrinal taxonomy and consistent methodology. As an example in the chapter “How Will It all End,” Thoennes correctly presents the second coming of Jesus Christ as a sudden, personal, bodily, visibly world-wide return as Christ will reign in His full majesty and power (165). He then provides a very brief one-page description summarizing the various eschatological millennial positions though not advocating one view above another. The strength of this chapter is his scriptural portrayal of the centrality of the return of Jesus Christ while the
JMAT 17:2 (Fall 2013) p. 154
weakness of course is to not further nuance Christ’s return and millennial kingdom.
This book uses non-technical vocabulary and also provides a very good Scripture index. I recommend the book for some entry level survey courses along with adult and even high school church ministry settings and various Bible study settings. The book would also be good discipleship tool for newer believers and even a book an entire church could easily read through...
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