Friday, October 27, 2017

Book Review: The Ology

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New. Marty Machowski. Illustrated by Andy McGuire. 2015. New Growth Press. 269 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Exploring the centuries-old church in their neighborhood was proving to be an adventure that Carla and Timothy would not soon forget. They had come upon an unlocked cellar door and had ventured down the stone stairway into the musty dimness below. "Look!" Carla exclaimed as she lifted the corner of a thick rug. "A hidden door." "I wonder where it leads," Timothy said. "Does it open?" the children pulled back the rug and lifted the door. Timothy pointed his flashlight into the darkness revealing a stairway to a room beneath the church cellar.

Premise/plot: You might assume that The Ology is just another bible story book written for parents to share with their children. It is true that this one contains a few familiar bible stories: Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, etc. But The Ology is not a Bible story book. (Though it is biblical.) In seventy-one short chapters, The Ology presents a systematic theology appropriate for families with children of all ages.

The framework. The book opens and closes with Carla and Timothy. In the beginning, these two come across a book, The Ology, that has been hidden in the secret room underneath the cellar in an old church building. They begin to read the book together. At the end, Timothy and Carla decide to take the book home with them to reread it. The next time they read it, they will read it with the Bible as well.

The book consists of eleven parts: "The Ology of God," "The Ology of People," "The Ology of Sin," "The Ology of the Promise and the Law," "The Ology of Christ," "The Ology of the Holy Spirit," "The Ology of Adoption into God's Family," "The Ology of Change," "The Ology of the Church," "The Ology of the End Times," "The Ology of God's Word."

Some sections are really short. Some are much, much longer. The shortest section is "The Ology of People." Perhaps this section reads the most like a traditional Bible story book. Overall, there are twenty chapters on God when you combine the chapters on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

My thoughts: I am so thankful that my library was able to interlibrary loan this one. I've been meaning to read it since it first came out.

I definitely love the idea of loving this one. I think it is so important to teach and instruct children in the faith from a very early age. Christianity isn't just a feeling; there are truths that need to be taught, need to be learned. You don't learn biblical truths by accident. They need to be intentionally taught. Otherwise, you'll pick up "truths" as you go, as you watch people around you, as you float in and out of churches growing up. And sometimes the truths you pick up "by accident" are more half-truths than whole-truths.

Each theological truth has its own chapter. Each chapter has several scripture references to look up and read. The parents guide urges parents to choose a memory verse for their children to learn to go with each chapter. The illustrations are supposed to engage readers and provoke conversations and discussions about what it means. Each chapter has at least one analogy to make the theological concept easier to understand.

My favorite section was "The Ology of Adoption Into God's Family." The chapters: "Chosen," "Called," "Born Again," "Faith," "Jesus Paid it All," and "Adopted."

Imagine going to an ice cream parlor on a hot day to buy an ice cream cone. The hardest part is trying to decide which flavor to get.
Some people love chocolate and will only choose ice cream with chocolate in it. Others enjoy big, chewy chunks of candy in their ice cream. But what if you went into an ice cream shop and none of the flavors had any appeal. Imagine flavors like stinky sneaker, mildew swirl, and earthworm chunk? You would most likely leave the shop without getting anything.
We choose ice cream that tastes good. But when God chose us to be a part of his family, we were yucky, spoiled sinners--not one of us was good. God didn't choose us because he needed us or because we had some special quality, God chose us while we were still sinners, just because he decided to love us.
After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. We do the same thing when we sin--we try to hide from God and get as far away as we can. Without God's help, no one would turn to him. We are all like runaway trains, speeding away from God toward a terrible crash. But because of his love and not because of anything we have done, God chose to save some who ran away.
Even before creating the world, God chose his children. He knew Adam and Eve would sin, and he planned before creation to send his only Son to rescue his people from sin and death.
It's good news that God chooses us, because sadly, without the Spirit changing our minds, we would never choose him! the Bible even says that we were "dead" in our sin and the Spirit has to first make us alive before we believe! Apart from God, we are helpless to choose him. We don't even like God until he breathes life into us, opening our eyes to see him. Only then, alive in Christ, do we choose to follow God and live for him. 
Scripture references: Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5, 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13, 1 John 1:10, Ephesians 2:1-3, John 15:16a, Acts 13:48. 
I loved the content for the most part. I did. I didn't love the framework of this one. Part of me understands wanting to ease children into the book through a story--adventure story at that. But as an adult, it threw me out of the book more than drew me into the book. I don't need encouragement to read theology. And the idea of two children--without supervision--wondering around in a church building, exploring cellars and hidden rooms under cellars, etc--was a bit too much for my credibility. As were a few of the analogies within the book. But overall, I did love the theological content.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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