A Daily Bible Devotional
A review by Christine Farenhorst of Through the Bible – Through the Year, written by John Stott, and published by Baker Books of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in July 2006 (cloth $24.99, 432 pages).
A resource for daily private devotion, this rather large volume strives to guide the Christian reader through the Bible in the course of one year. From the Creation account in Genesis through to Revelation, page-long readings are given with a suggested Bible passage at the end. The entire book is divided into three sections. The first deals with the Old Testament; the second deals with the Life of Christ, that is the Gospels; and the last deals with the remainder of the Bible.
It becomes painfully clear at the onset, that John Stott is not a Creationist; that is to say, he does not believe in a literal six day creation. Rather, he says that Genesis is a highly stylized and beautiful poem. The important factor is, he says, that God created from chaos to cosmos. Time, according to Stott, is of unspecified length. As well, he designates Adam as a neolithic (stone age) farmer. Adam who is, according to Stott, at least historically real, fares better than the snake and the named trees which appear to be mythical, a symbolic form reappearing later in Scripture. The flood although real, was very likely, according to Stott, not universal but local. A rather awkward beginning for a Biblical devotional, and I would like to suggest that the title of the book might have been more correct had it read “Through With the Bible.”
It is true that often Christians are conned into believing that evolution is a proven fact and that faith in creation is not logical and only for the uneducated. However, aside from the fact that the Bible is Truth and does not need our help to defend what it says, the fact is that the concept of evolution has never been well supported by the evidence and today many non-Christian scientists are coming forward to say so. John Stott appears to believe that God used evolution to create and that maybe the days of Genesis are long periods of time. But where does the fall into sin come into his frame of thinking? The truth is that John Stott’s picking and choosing of what is historical and what is factua1, can lead to very serious conflict.
A G. Richard Bozarth, writing in American Atheist ‘The Meaning of Evolution” (Feb. 1978) stated:
Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end of evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. Take away the meaning of His death. If Jesus was not the Redeemer Who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!
A straight-forward reading of the Bible indicates that God created the world in six days. There are many books today which will show the inquiring, and perhaps worried Christian, that creation is not at all incompatible with scientific evidence. (See: It’s a Young World After All by Paul Ackerman, The Beginning of the World – a Scientific Study of Genesis 1-11 by Henry M. Morris, Did God Create in Six Days? Edited by J. A. Pipa, Jr., and Tornado in a Junkyard by James Perloff for good, solid reading.)
Back to the devotional. The second and third parts of the book read reasonably well, although the information provided on each page tends to be scanty, given the amount of space there is to expound. There is, intentionally or not, no reference ever to hell.
Since a book such as this one is for Christians anyway, the purpose being that they read through the entire Scripture in a year, I would much prefer to see people have regular times for reading the Bible itself. Every person’s day has a morning, noon and night as well as bedtime. A few chapters at these specific times set aside each day (I suggest mealtimes), can take a person a long way toward the goal of finishing Scriptures in a year.
Do I recommend the devotional? Not really. For the same reason that I would not throw a drowning man a rope that was badly frayed.
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