Last year I realised that most of the Christian books I read are written by men. Sure, they are godly men who write great books, but it dawned on me that I should be seeking out great books written by godly women too! Especially if I want to be supporting such women in their ministry and learning from their wisdom.
So I went out an bought a stack of Christian books written by women and I intend to review them as I read them (I'll review other books written by men too!).
So get excited and strap in for the first of my book reviews.
The first book I read of the books I bought was 'Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image' by Hannah Anderson.
I came across Hannah Anderson as a female voice in American evangelical circles through Wendy Alsup's blog Practical Theology for Women. She has co-written some articles with Wendy and they seem to be on a similar wave-length when it comes to thinking about women in the church so I thought I'd give one of her books a go.
'Made for More' is a great book with the gospel at it's heart. It struck me that Anderson kept coming back to the gospel message, especially when she was showing how other things can shape our identity instead. She goes into some more specific applications of this such as in work and other areas of life.
A big emphasis is on the idea of Imago Dei, that is, being made in God's image and we take our identity from that. Here is how she explains it;
Literally translated, imago dei simply means "in the image of God." But in reality, imago dei means so much more. Imago dei means that your life has purpose and meaning because God has made you to be like Himself. Imago dei means that your life has intrinsic value, not simply because of who you are as an individual, but because of who He is as your God. Imago dei means that your life is sacred because He has stamped His identity onto yours. - Hannah Anderson, 'Made for More'.
This is where she starts the book. God knows us because he created us, and created us in his image which is something all other animals on earth don't have. From there Anderson goes on to see how this: gives us a God shaped heart; helps us live in relationship with others; helps us steward creation as God does. And then she ends the book looking at the new creation.
The other thing Anderson does in this book is she delves into a wide range of doctrine and theology which is affected by this idea of imago dei including God's sovereignty, sin, grace, gender...the list goes on. And I really feel that she does them justice in such a short space she.
One of the main issues I had with the book was that it felt a little 'fluffy'. What I mean by that is that she used words and phrases which immediately made me go "This is exactly why I didn't like 'women's ministry' before." The best example of this is the chapter entitled Queens in Narnia: Embracing Your Destiny to Reign.
I'm pretty sure this is just a bit of a cultural disconnect between America and Australia. From the little I have experienced of the way some American women, and some men (looking at you, John Piper) write and preach, they tend to use a lot of descriptive and emotional language to illustrate what they are saying. I don't think we do that so much in Australia and as a result sometimes it can make American books and speakers a bit hard to understand.
But actually, once my non-fluffy Australian self got over my gut reaction, I saw the substance underneath the fluff. It wasn't an airy fairy idea of 'being a queen' like you're 'daddy's little princess', but what she means by the title of the chapter Queens in Narnia: Embracing Your Destiny to Reign is that we are made to work and to look after the world God gave us. And she explains this fully and really well.
Overall I quite liked this book. I think Hannah Anderson does a great job at showing how our identity in being made in God's image affects our whole life. From loving like God, being gracious, wisdom, and our attitude to work, having our identity firmly rooted in God having made us in his likeness, means that we live differently. And that in coming to Jesus at the cross we rediscover that our identity is meant to be in God and we begin to become who God created human-kind to be.
'Made for More' is a good book for thinking about how identity in God changes our whole life (even if it's a little fluffy!).