Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Year With God: Daily Readings and Reflections on God's Own Words by R. P. Nettelhorst

This book of 365 daily devotionals claims to be a study of God's own Words. But as I read the devotionals I was increasingly distressed. I thought at first that it may be written simply for new Christians. But as I continued to read I came upon statements made that caused me to think this book would only lead new Christians into confusion. The Scriptures in the book are from the Old Testament only, which is stated in the preface. The concept is a good one for a book, devotionals on the Words God said to His people. And even if only the Old Testament is used I think this concept could have been developed more fully. To me however the "reflection" part of the book was disturbing because there were many instances where I just could not agree with the author because the statements went against my basic Christian beliefs. I will give examples. On page 21 the author is talking of the rainbow God showed Noah. The author writes, "On the surface, the story of the post-Flood rainbow resembles stories like 'How Did the Bear Lose Its Tail?'. But the story of Noah and the ark was not devised simply to explain where rainbows come from. In fact, rainbows predated the Flood."
Here my mouth dropped open...the author sounds like several professors I had in college who tried to explain the Bible as a book of fairy tales, not as truth. And the author presents as FACT a statement like "rainbows predated the Flood". According to my studies before the Flood it had not rained upon the earth which was why Noah's neighbors thought him crazy for building an ark. If it had not rained, there would have been no previous rainbows.
Another example on page 22 the author is writing about Jacob and the dream the Lord gave Him of a ladder going up to heaven and angels coming up and down. The author writes, "Sleeping with a rock for a pillow, he(Jacob) had weird dreams". It is as if he is trying to excuse the dream away by saying it was because Jacob was uncomfortable that he just had this weird dream...instead of communicating the fact that this was a dream given by the Lord to Jacob.
On page 34 the author writes about Job and God questioning him. "An interesting question God asked Job was 'Do you knokw the laws that govern the heavens and can you make them rule the earth?' When God asked Job the question, Job had no answer. Today, Job would probably have answered yes, thanks to the physicist Sir Isaac Newton. Newton discovered that the laws of nature are universal. What is true in the heavens is true on the earth." To me this came across as saying we are much more educated now and could argue well with God on this point because science has made such advances!
Since the author uses the Old Testament I guess we are not to expect much about Jesus in the devotional but I feel that the Old Testament has just as much to say about Jesus, God's plan for salvation for the Jews and the Gentiles, the prophecies of the Messiah that is relevant towards understanding who Jesus is. However on page 37 (one of the few references to Jesus in the book) the author writes "The New Testament authors of the Gospels identified John the Baptist as the one calling in the wilderness to make a straight way for God. The one for whom John made a straight way for was Jesus: the Messiah and the Son of God, whom the Gospel writers and John, by the use of this passage from Isaiah, identified with Yahweh, the God of Israel." Perhaps this was just because I was already distressed with some of the other readings but the phrasing of this made it sound like ONLY the writers of the Gospels and John thought Jesus was Messiah. I would have thought this one statement about Jesus would have been made with more affirmation and verification of the truth of who He is and was.
Again on page 40 the author is writing about Isaiah 65:17 and he writes (and my stomach sinks as I read this) "We are tempted to imagine that God was talking about the eternal kingdom...Are the blessings of the passage literal, or are they figurative? A clue comes from remembering that God chose to speak in poetry. This passage expressed the hope that was to come when God finally reigned in the lives of his people."
TEMPTED to believe that the Bible is literal? Are we sinning when we believe the Bible is literal? To me that is the key point throughout this book which is so disturbing. I am not sure of course because I do not know the author but from reading this writing of his I think he does not believe the Bible is the literal word of God and he uses his devotionals to promote that fact.
The cover of the book has this phrase on it "Make His Thoughts Your Thoughts". From my own experience and my studies in the Word of God, my thoughts will NEVER be His thoughts because His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways higher than my ways.
To me the book smacked of false teaching. The only thing I did like was the cover design artwork. I will not be giving this book away or even putting it in the church library or any other library. It will be thrown into the trash.
Hard for me to write a review like this but I do not feel that I could write anything less and be true to the Lord God that I serve.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

Annette said...

Thankful for this review. I was just getting ready to start writing mine and felt so bad that it was going to be so negative ... glad to see that others were equally concerned about much of this book. Thank you!