I was intrigued to get hold of a review copy of this new, and quite substantial, book by Melvin Tinker. Having enjoyed his recent book on culture, with it’s slightly niche angle of ‘cultural marxism’, I was excited to read this book, Veiled in Flesh: The Incarnation. What it means and why it matters. Here is a book by a well known conservative evangelical Anglican pastor, on one of the greatest topics in all of theology, the incarnation. The title is deliberately inspired by the one of my favourite Christmas carols, Hark the Herald, which includes the rich line “veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail h’incarnate deity“. This is a wonderful summary of the incarnation – a glorious mystery that Tinker delves into carefully and prayerfully.
Overall, it is worth saying that Veiled in Flesh is a superb piece of properly biblical theology, utterly submitted to the trustworthy truth of Scripture, and what it says concerning the person, work and mission of Jesus Christ. Tinker ostensibly focuses on passages from the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, but in true biblical theology fashion he works with texts from across the canon. The first part of the book is an exploration of the biblical foundation of the doctrine of the incarnation, and this represents a readable and robust exposition of the classic Christian doctrine.
One of the best elements of this book is that through tinker maintains a worshipful manner of writing – he is constantly amazed and astounded at the goodness of the God we worship – and a place for prayer. Each chapter closes with a beautiful prayer – often drawn from different parts of church history. This echoes the helpful historical overview that underpins this book. This is not a book of novel ideas spewed out for the sake of it – rather, this is a book that deeply meditates (thankfully) on what the Church believes, and has historically believed about Jesus. It is peppered with wonderful one-liners, like “Jesus Christ is the open heart of God as well as the ‘human face’ of God.” Amen!
For those worrying that this book might be technical and theoretical, don’t worry. At the end of the second part, ‘a theological exploration’, we enjoy a superb summary of the beautiful reality of the application of this complex doctrine. To try to summarise, Tinker observes that grassing tightly this mystery of the Incarnation is helpful in three different places: 1. for when Christians fall into sin. 2. for when Christians suffer. 3. The incarnation is crucial for our apologetics. These are three vital areas of the Christian life and mission – and Tinker cleverly and carefully shows us why the Incarnation matters here.
Overall, then, this is a really helpful book about the most wonderful mystery of the Christian faith. I believe that there is at present a very concerning lack of understanding amongst Christian leaders, particularly in the evangelical and charismatic worlds I occupy, concerning the core question of who Jesus is. Veiled in Flesh is a book for this problem, in this time. Focused with laser-like precision on Jesus, this is a book to stretch our brains and warm our hearts.