I was sent a review pdf of this little book, which focuses on one of my favourite Bible characters – Thomas, often called ‘doubting’ Thomas, but who I prefer to call (in line with a much more interesting thread of church history!) confessing Thomas. Ben Jack is an evangelist, and this little book is in a new series that seeks to equip God’s people for evangelism. It’s pretty short – and I liked it – so this review is going to touch on just a few things, because I think it’s a book well worth reading. I’ve actually bought a copy!
It might seem strange to start a book, as My Lord and My God does, about evangelism by talking about doubt. But in my own experience and awareness, it’s probably quite a good thing to do. Those of us who aren’t full-time evangelists (and probably those of us who are!) are likely to doubt ourselves, the evangelistic method we are ‘using’, or even the message of the gospel itself. With those realities in mind, I liked the description of doubt that Ben offers: “Doubt is neither a foundation to build upon or an end in itself. Doubt is simply the inevitable consequence of our human frailty as we journey towards the ultimate foundation of God’s truth. And it can be exchanged for something better as we encounter the living God. It can be exchanged for confident hope.” That, I think, captures neatly what I love about Thomas’s own story: he had a reasonable doubt, and his encounter with Jesus turned that reasonable doubt into a confident hope, expressed in the words that title this book, ‘My Lord and My God’!
One thing I loved about this little book is the blend of Christian streams that Ben draws in. Coming from an evangelist, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a book for those who want to get up, get out, and change the world. And it is! But it isn’t just that. The second chapter, ‘Isolated’, and Ben observes (in my view rightly!) that “The very idea of intentional solitude is actually key to the Christian discipleship journey“. Being a short and practical book from an imprint called ‘Equipping the Church’ you could be forgiven for thinking that this book might be light on theology – gladly, I can report that this isn’t the case! Ben roots his writing in wide and deep theological reading – and his solution to isolation is to point back towards God, our Trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I’ve found myself reflecting on the wisdom in these words: “God calls his people to reject living in isolation from him and to embrace fellowship with him. He calls his people to reject living in isolation from the needs of the world and embrace fellowship with the world for him“. This is a book that does the hard work for the reader – leaving us with a readable, practical and often quite entertaining little read on evangelism, but in a bigger and more holistic way than you might think. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on questioning, and will be referring back to that in the future!
This short and very readable book has a helpful discussion guide at the end of each chapter – I think one great way to use this book would be to get a couple of friends from church (or CU, or whatever) and commit to reading a chapter a week and discussing it – and then challenging and encouraging each other to live in the light of each chapter! There are ideas for applications which are focused enough that the reader cannot avoid acting, but general enough that you could adapt them to your own context. Like I said at the outset of this review – I was sent a PDF to read, and liked it so much I’ve gone and bought a copy for myself. I think that probably tells you how much I’d recommend this little book!