Nine Ways God Always Speaks – Mark Herringshaw & Jennifer Schuchmann (Christian Living)
This was an ER book from LibraryThing, and I admit I was a bit skeptical when it came. I sometimes enjoy reading somewhat-fluffy Christian non-fiction (let’s face it – there’s a lot of it out there, and the majority is crap), but I wasn’t sure what to expect from these authors. Tyndale Publishers is usually fairly trustworthy, however, so I plunged ahead.
You may read from other reviewers that it was too ‘trite’, ‘scripturally unsound’, ‘juvenile’, and so forth. Alright, I see where that comes from. The language of the book was not academic, and the authors frequently took stories from Scripture and tried to re-tell them in modern words (ie. the angel coming to Mary). Now, I understand that some people might take issue with the authors trying to get their point across by saying Mary ‘heard voices’ instead of emphasizing the angel… but I think what they were trying to do is give the perspective of someone who might have heard Mary trying to explain why she was pregnant and unwed. I don’t doubt plenty of people thought she was crazy and hearing voices. Make sense? Some anecdotes like this were perhaps not expanded upon enough to get back to the original sense of the text, but I can see where the authors were coming from.
That said, this was clearly not intended to be an academic text. The ‘juvenile’ tone (or, I might say, friendly and contemporary) of the book indicates that it is aiming to appeal to the everyday person who wonders if they’re hearing God, or if God can really speak to someone today. This isn’t a book for pastors, or professors, or theologians, or even Bible college students. This is a book for the average individual who has genuine questions about God’s voice. So, of course the authors aren’t going to take a ‘higher tone’ with their writing. Of course they’re going to ‘dumb it down’ a bit, because the point is in the core message of the text: God speaks, and here are some different ways he’s done so throughout history.
The majority of the book is anecdotal, using stories from history, Scripture, the authors’ own experiences, and the experiences of others that they’ve heard on speaking tours/at conferences/through emails to them/etc. Then they expand on how God spoke in that story. And you know what? I really appreciated that the authors didn’t discount any method, in the sense that God can use any situation to His advantage to get His point across.
Yes, the book was written for hoi polloi. But that’s just it: God can speak to anyone, at any time, for any reason… and that’s a message that the everyday individual – perhaps more than a pastor, or a teacher – needs to hear.
Rating: 3 coffees out of 5