Book Review, Christian Living, Thoughts

A Crossway Book on Biblical Irony

I recently joined the book review programs for Crossway and Moody Publishers. They send me an e-book, PDF, or hard copy of a book of my choice, and I get to review it. This will be helpful writing practice for me, and you will get detailed and honest recommendations for amazing books. The experience is also encouraging me to read more challenging books frequently. If there are any books you want to hear about, comment below with your suggestions!

When I received my first book to review, I was excited to begin. It looked simple enough, but I was soon challenged more than I expected to be. Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom was not “spiritual baby food”. The name may sound like a book for professors, but it was written for all Christians, for both new believers and those who have walked with the Lord for years. It has grown my understanding of the Bible as a whole and pointed out the seemingly backward happenings in the world, something the author calls “biblical irony”.

The author, G.K. Beale, defines biblical irony as generally meaning “…the doing or saying of something that implies its opposite. What is done or said is really the reverse of what first appears to be the case.” In his book, Beale skillfully points out the overarching theme of biblical irony beginning in Genesis and ending with Revelation.

Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom is composed of six chapters. The first chapter explains how ”God Judges People By Their Own Sin”, pointing out that people are punished by means of their own sin. For example, Israel (Jacob) lied to his father to receive a blessing, and later in his life, his sons lied to him about Joseph. I had never recognized this pattern, but as Beale took me through the Old Testament, I was surprised at the consistent appearance of this “ironic“ judgement.

Chapter two expands on the previous chapter, explaining that ironic judgement also applies to idolatry. When people worship something else than God, they are punished by becoming like that idol. The Israelites worshipped idols that could neither see nor hear, and they were judged by becoming spiritually blind and deaf. This chapter was the most convicting and spoke to my heart and helped me to realize my own idolatry. If we love the world, we look like the things in it. However, Beale continues that if we worship God, that we become like Him.

Beale continues in the third chapter about the opposite side of biblical irony: the irony of salvation. God delights in saving the criminals and “biggest sinners” of the world. It seems as though He would save those seem righteous or “really good”, but God sees through their prideful mask, and He chooses to save the humble sinners. The fourth chapter continues that part of the irony of salvation and the irony of life is that God uses the weak to accomplish His will and to play key roles in His Story. Jesus had to live a life of weakness to fulfill the irony of the cross: that Jesus was His strongest at the place where He looked His weakest. Evil seemed to win, but it was being overcome.

The fifth chapter explains the role of faith in the unseen in the life of Christians. Many times, truth seems to contradict what we see. God, however, calls us to trust Him before we trust our eyes. The sixth chapter finishes the study though the Bible with the book of Revelation and an explanation of the irony of end times. Beale makes a case for his understanding of end times and strives to make his point clear. I found this section interesting, but I have not yet heard views from all sides concerning end times. However, this chapter completes the study of the entirety of the Bible.

In Summary

In summary, Beale makes his points well, references the Bible constantly, and often defines difficult vocabulary. He skillfully brings deep theological concepts to an understandable level and often uses illustrations to explain. The chapters are clearly labeled and organized, averaging about 28 pages each. The book concisely explains an important biblical theme.

Although this book is deep, theological, and challenging, it is not dull. In his book, Beale challenges both the intellect and the heart by bringing the Word of God to his readers.

Many books today are “dumbed down” for teens. A book like this one would never appear on a “teen reading” library bookshelf. Let’s rise to the challenge and step up to something greater than “spiritual baby food”. Are you ready for a feast?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review. However, this is my honest opinion.

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