‘Christ our Life’ – A Review by Andrew Roycroft
BOOK REVIEW: Christ our Life, by Michael Reeves [Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2014], 112 pages, paperback, £9.99, ISBN 978 1 84227 758 4.
In Christ our Life Michael Reeves follows up his widely appreciated treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity, The Good God, with a volume which presents a brief yet wide-ranging portrait of Reformed Christology. In relatively small compass the author covers the broad themes of Christ as the eternal Son of God, the Incarnation, Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, union with Christ and the parousia. To pack so much into a book which barely tips 100 pages might seem an impossible task, but somehow Reeves has managed to compose a book which is at once accessible without being patronising, brief whilst broad, and historically nuanced whilst emphasising always the final authority of Scripture.
What marks this little volume out from many other primers on Christian doctrine is its refusal to confound simplicity of expression with over-simplification of subject. On almost every page Reeves’ capabilities as a theologian are implicitly evident, but his prose is punchy, witty and warm-hearted. There is nothing novel about the subject matter, nor the theological angle from which the author approaches his theme, but the language crackles with ingenuity and originality throughout. Reeves thus allows readers who are new to this kind of material to find an easy way ‘in’ to his subject matter, while those already well-versed in Christology will find familiar themes presented in terms which arrest the attention and the affection in new ways.
Perhaps more than anything else, there is a sense in Christ our Life that the author is utterly preoccupied with, and in awe of, the Saviour of whom he writes. The best Christian writing, like the most powerful preaching, carries with it an unfeigned love for the Lord Jesus Christ in the fulness of his person and work, which charges the most simple presentation of truth with a measure of the glory of its subject. This is, arguably, the greatest triumph of Reeves’ writing in this little volume.
A number of formatting decisions on the part of the author will undoubtedly divide the opinion of readers. Each chapter is replete with pictures of paintings and engravings of Christ’s life from across church history, as well as containing ‘feature’ sections which focus in on specific areas of thought or controversy. For some this will make for a relaxed reading experience, while for others these features could be seen as a distraction from the main content of each section. What all readers will agree on is the need for the book to have been proofread and edited more stringently, with spelling errors abounding (the most glaring being the title to the introduction to the book ‘Christinity is Christ’!). It is a shame that such sterling content has not undergone the editorial process which it so richly deserves.
No quibbles over formatting or proofreading can, however, detract from the immense worth of this diminutive volume. Reeves’ writing on the Lord Jesus Christ is pure gold, shining new light on eternal themes, and presenting old truths in fresh form. Reeves conveys deep truth in surprising detail, but always with disarming clarity and passion. It is hard to recommend this title highly enough.
Andrew Roycroft is pastor of Millisle Baptist Church in County Down, Northern Ireland.
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