An extended online review of a 2021 book by Colin McCartney
Note: Our print issue contains a shorter version of this review. Faith Today welcomes your thoughts on any of our reviews. We also welcome suggestions of other Canadian Christian books to review: Contact us.
Herald Press, 2021. 304 pages. $23 (e-book $15)
Colin McCartney uses hiking as a metaphor for the Christian walk. As hiking may be quite strenuous, so may be the road of a follower of Christ. At first the path may seem undaunting with its wide walkways and easy ascents, but as you delve further into the hike, you are challenged with sloping switchbacks and scathing scree. This journey may seem too difficult. Nevertheless, you’re too far along the path to turn around or abandon the trek in front of you. Your passion and eagerness fade as your excitement evaporates.
Unfortunately, all too often, this happens in our faith as well.
Many people, Christ-followers or not, have a multitude of unanswered questions about Christianity. McCartney digs deep into Scripture to explain some of its paradoxes – in particular to help people discouraged by a view of God as judgmental, many of whom he has encountered in more than 35 years working in urban missions.
McCartney encourages readers to evaluate their perspectives, not to see a straight and narrow path but the wide path with twists and turns. As he takes on questions of evil, God’s wrath and eternal punishment, he guides readers to know God using a lens of deep love, never-ending compassion and perpetual forgiveness.
And just as God requires us to participate in His plan through prayer, McCartney asks his readers to participate at the end of each chapter with thought-provoking and self-assessing questions.
This is a book to help us heal and to guide us to God’s heart. Rather than reading the Bible from a created view of God by man, we are challenged to read it from the heart of God which is full of mercy, compassion, understanding and patience.
The very first segment of the book is entitled “God loves you.” Although we may have heard this many times in our Christian lives, McCartney emphasises why it is important to begin our relationship with God by knowing completely that we are fully loved, regardless of anything we have done in our past, are still dealing with in our present or may encounter in the future.
God’s love is the heart of our relationship with Him. With this lens, we will be able to see God with a whole new perspective. We are loved, cherished, desired and sought after. Just as the prodigal son is accepted and welcomed back into his father’s arms without reservation, so are we into the arms of the Almighty Father whose abundant love is never ending.
McCartney continues to teach his readers to find God’s love in the Bible. He reminds us that God sent His Holy Spirit to guide us in our reading of Scripture, and that all Scripture is, “God breathed, and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible is a book of wisdom. Jesus asked the disciples questions because He wanted them to ponder the heart of God. The Bible encourages us to think and wonder about God’s love for us. The things we do not understand in the Bible are there to have us pursue God, and to continually search His heart, so that we will not lose a desire for Him and all the treasures He has for us. He desires to bless us as we obey, trust and follow His ways.
Lastly, McCartney urges his readers to see the Old Testament through the eyes of Jesus’ love of the New Testament. We are reminded the Bible was still written by broken people, but Jesus loves us, with all our faults and failings. He is the true Emmanuel, and our Jehovah Jireh. God wants to meet us where we are and come alongside to change our hearts and minds to be more like Him. The words of the apostles still hold true today – “We will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
If you’re looking for a book to challenge your preconceived notions about God and feel equipped to help others understand the depth of love God has for all of us, this would be a good place to begin.
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