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When I offer this book as a source for a new spiritual formation class at my church, I will need to purchase a fresh copy. My own copy is underlined, circled, starred and covered with notes to the extent that I might not want anyone looking over my shoulder! I have used The Good and Beautiful God series in the past and looked forward to Dr. Smith's next book. What a blessing! The work is thoughtfully innovative while being theologically sound. It is challenging while offering great comfort. It is a great story - magnificent, in fact - that will draw other great stories from those who read and study it together. In the midst of daily ministry and personal spiritual formation, I feel as if a light has been shined on my soul. I did not want it to end. Not only will I need a new copy from which to teach, but I have purchased the first 2 of many copies which I will share with those close to me in life and ministry, and those who I meet who need to know what is beautiful, good and true.
This book is well written and winsome in style. It is in fact at times beautiful to read. Smith's an excellent writer. One MAJOR PROBLEM though: Poor exegesis and flawed theology. When he makes a distinction between mankind as the "image" and "likeness" of God, he says the two terms are different and claims that others do too. Not so! Many Bible scholars maintain the terms are interchangeable and mean basically the same thing. If that's true, Smith's view of mankind is fatally flawed because it's based on a faulty understanding of the nature of God's image in mankind. Also, I think he overstates the "shaming" gospel. Fact is, mankind IS fallen, and the image of God IS twisted into suppressed knowledge, self-determined righteousness, and a self-determined holiness where mankind is set apart from God and dedicated above all to himself. The wrath of God is against such people. And speaking of "wrath", Smith doesn't really deal with the parts of Scripture that deal with God's wrath. The beauty, goodness, and Truth of the Gospel is that God would be gracious and send His son to save people who deserve His eternal wrath and to begin to restore redeemed mankind to true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness -- a process that will be completed one day in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Smith doesn't seem to want to wrap his mind around a story that he has shrunk as much as the liberals and fundies have.
"Magnificent" is not a word I throw around carelessly, but it's just right to describe the story James Bryan Smith writes about in this book. Smith has long been convinced that stories matter, and readers of the Good and Beautiful series know how concerned he is that we believe the right narratives. This new book points out just how insufficient some of our narratives are in relation to the magnificent story of the gospel. Your soul will be blessed by this book that displays the good, beautiful, and true nature of God's great love for us. Wish I could rate this one higher than five stars!
Having read and loved James BryanSmith last series (The good and beautiful God/Life/Community) I have waited eagerly for this latest book and was not disappointed. Smith continues to find a clear and simple way to dispel the many false narratives that have held me back for many years. In the Magnificent Story he emphasizes again that the life of Christ was no ordinary event, and that using spiritual disciplines such as tuning into my senses and being awed by creation around me are ways I can draw even closer to meaningful relationship with my heavenly Father
What a great book by James Bryan Smith! I’ve read his “Good and Beautiful” trio, and still find more great insights in this latest work. The author has a gift for taking deep spiritual truths and making them accessible and applicable to the disciple of Christ. The true gospel is magnificent, attractive, delightful, and attainable. Smith unpacks this beautifully.