Book Review: Abraham

Abraham: One Man’s Journey Of Faith, by Chuck Swindoll

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Press in exchange for an honest review.]

This particular book is written by a moderate Calvinist, which is something that often tends to concern me because I am a moderate Arminian and find that Calvinists are full of biased comments about free will and divine providence that show a distinct lack of intellectual honesty or fairness in discussion (which is ironic given their emphasis on divine justice) [1]. This book contains some of these problems, but they are mostly mild, as this is a book whose offensive and unbiblical Calvinism [2] is mostly limited to the appendix and a few scattered references, throughout, and that makes this book a lot better, as its focus is largely on the biblical story itself, along with object lessons taken from the life of the author, the literature and speeches of others (like Billy Graham, for example), and thoughtful translation and commentary on the lessons of faith that we can take from the father of the faithful.

There were a lot of profound lessons that a reader can take from this book. The author seems to dwell particularly long on aspects of the family, given its importance in the story of Abraham and in our society. The author has some scathing things to say about people who endanger their teenage girls by subjecting them to bad social circumstances (by talking about Lot’s dysfunctional family), and also comments on such issues as single parenthood, the loneliness of being single, remarriage after being widowed, and the like. He talks about the difficulty and importance of seeking God’s will and not going ahead of God (using the example of Hagar). He spends a lot of time talking about unmerited grace, while also seeking to wrestle with the godly demands of righteousness, a common dilemma among Hellenistic Christians.

What makes this book a particularly compelling read is the fact that the author is clearly passionate about the issue of faith and exploring the deeper meaning of the speech and silence of the Bible’s account of Abraham’s life. The story itself has a strong narrative flow and some compelling passage analysis. The author also speaks with some honesty about his own struggles, although there are some readers who may find the author’s comments rather scathingly anti-romantic (it seems to be a common problem among Calvinists) as well as somewhat priggish and self-righteous (as when the author claimed that the majority of his bunkmates in the military had sexually transmitted diseases). Those people who find the author’s wit and commentary somewhat self-righteous will probably not appreciate this work, but those who are able to appreciate the author’s somewhat awkward attempts at encouragement will find the prose compelling enough to serve as an inspiration to stay faithful and build trust and confidence in God, which is something we could all use more of.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/book-review-a-godward-heart/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/the-five-point-biblical-covenant-model/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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