I am. . .Not: a book review

 

I am Not But I Know I AM by Louie Giglio

Before Giglio was in the public eye for his views of public morality he was the driving force behind the Passion movement which has created some the most popular worship music in the last two decades. He is also the pastor of Passion City Church in ATL. He wrote I Am Not But I Know I AM: Welcome to the Story of God  in 2005, and Waterbrook Multnomah has just re-released it for another run.

The title describes the books central theme. I Am that I Am is the name that Moses heard when he asked on the mountain, “Whom shall I say sent me?” The answer was: Yahweh–I Am that I Am; I Will BE What I Will Be. This God is like no other and while we human creatures sometimes usurp his position, we don’t even come close. Giglio tells the story of  the God of the Bible, seen in the Old Testament and revealed in Christ. We learn two important truths in this book:

  1. There is a God
  2. You and I are not God.

At times Giglio emphasizes God’s transcendence and how utterly mysterious his ways are to us. But this isn’t just a tale of the ‘Wholly Other.” This God has extended to us his love and drawn near to us in Jesus Christ. When Giglio says I am Not but I Know “I Am” he proclaims his trust in the God of creation that he knows through his relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because we are not I Am, are job is not to strive, to make a name, to make something happen. Our job is to know and to trust in our God.

I liked this book and think that Giglio makes some great points. However there are some  exegetical leaps. Giglio describes the ‘One-Word Bible Study Method’ which involves going slowly, meditatively through a passage one word at a time  (he does in the book with John 1:14).  I like this method because a slow attentive reading of scripture avails you to the voice of God. Yet in Giglio’s demonstration, he ends up giving a fanciful etymology to the word “Became” (the verb ‘to be’ = I AM, therefore we are to read it “I AM came”).  I don’t disagree with Giglio’s points but using English etymology (even made up etymology) to understand biblical words and concepts, puts you in danger of reading into the text.  What Giglio  does more or less responsibly here, could just as easily be misused.

So with some reservations, I recommend this book. I think Giglio’s message is on target.  This is a quick read but is the sort of message we all need to hear.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

 

I Know You Are but What I AM (a book review)

I AM. . .Exploring the ‘I am’ Sayings of John’s Gospel by Iain D. CampBell


When Moses trembled before the burning bush hearing about how God would use him to redeem his people he asked, “Whom shall I say sent me?”  God responds “I AM who I AM (Exodus 3: 14). If you fast forward to the New Testament, Jesus tells an antagonistic crowd, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am! (John 8:58), hinting at his deity and identifying himself with Israel’s God.

In I Am. . Iain D. Campbell explores seven other ‘I Am’ statements from Jesus which clarify his identity and tell us why he came.  In these pages we meet:

  • Jesus the Bread of Life– the one who nourishes us, provides for us, sustains and frees us.
  • Jesus the Light of the World–the one who exposes our darkness, condemns and scatters it and bids us to walk in his light.
  • Jesus the Door–the one through whom we gain access to God and who provides our security.
  • Jesus our Good Shepherd–The title tells us of Jesus’ full deity (especially in light of Ezekiel 34) and points to the kind of God Jesus is.
  • Jesus the Resurrection and the Life– In context these words tell of Jesus’ love for a particular family but they tell us the full power and promise of trusting in him.
  • Jesus the Way ( and the Truth and the Life)–This tell us of the unique  role Jesus plays in bringing us into relationship with God through the cross.
  • Jesus the Vine–the one from which we receive our life and sustenance.

These devotional reflections focus on the person of Christ and his purposes.  I think that this book is perfect for personal devotions, or to read along with a friend. Those who are not Christians but are interested in exploring more of who Jesus is and why he came will also find this book a helpful and accessible resource. Campbell is both pastor and professor, but while these reflections evidence deeper study their tone is much more pastoral. Campbell wants you (the reader) to know Jesus more fully and appreciate all that he has accomplished on our behalf.  Each of the chapters end with questions for deeper study and reflection which point the reader to other Biblical texts which explore the same theme.

Personally, I enjoyed these reflections and found the focus on Christ refreshing (a lot of devotional literature these days focuses on how lovable and valuable we are, but is more personal than devotional).  I also appreciate that while these meditations are pithy (the book is only 123 pages) they are certainly not shallow.  If you want to study these sayings more in depth, another resource would likely be better, but Campbell is deft at drawing out the implications of Jesus’ words in a way that is personally meaningful. So as we look toward Christmas and contemplate the meaning of the incarnation, this is a helpful resource.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Evangelical Press Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review