Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: True Spirituality

Vaughan Roberts has been one of my favourite teachers and writers for a long time. Each of the subjects he tackles is dealt with in a clear manner, and it's no exception in this overview of 1 Corinthians, entitled True Spirituality.

There's no doubt about it - spirituality is in these days, with all manner of spiritualities on offer. In some ways we think we're quite progressive, charting new territory, being bold and exciting, but it turns out there's nothing new under the sun, and the fledgling church at Corinth was dealing with the self-same issues. Roberts takes a chapter or two at a time and sees what God through Paul say about what true spirituality looks like.

I think the greatest compliment that can be paid to the book is that it says what Scripture says. That might seem like a strange thing to say, but it's not - Roberts doesn't present weird and wonderful ideas, instead he takes us to the text to see what God says through the apostle. He does this through engaging introductions, careful explanation, helpful (and at times funny) illustration, and ends each chapter with relevant and piercing application.

My only problem with the book is that it's too short! The overview of the main issues is sound and thorough, but it means that sometimes not every aspect of the text is covered. Similarly it would be good to have a little more on the 'whys' of how the text is handled in a particular way, for example on some of the contentious passages why one approach/reading is rejected while another used.

All in all it's a good basic commentary on 1 Corinthians, and a different way of approaching and presenting the whole book (in just 8 chapters), and one that will prove useful in future work on the letter. Alongside that, his challenging application is effective for personal devotion and consideration. Good for not just pastors and teachers, but for any Christian exploring the theme of spirituality or the church.

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