Engaging the Word - Book Review
Engaging the Word. Reviewed by Alan Rashleigh in Preach, Summer 2018
To save readers from becoming stressed by trying to understand the subtitle, Peter has very helpfully opened his introduction with the words: 'This book is about the relationship between the reading of the Bible and following Jesus'.
Later he asks the question, 'Can we be better Christians by engaging more with the Bible?' The fundamental purpose of the bible is surely to inspire mere mortals to aspire to be more like our Saviour and to follow in his footsteps. The problem comes because many people are unfamiliar with biblical language, as it is couched in terms not in everyday use. Hence the purpose of this book is to understand what the Bible is really about, and how we should use it.
The book is a call to action. It looks at how, by engaging with the Bible, our understanding of our journey in the Christian life will be transformed.
There are similar books which seek to achieve the same objectives, mainly by exhorting their readers to follow the instructions laid down in the Bible. This book is different, and to some may seem to be controversial. It argues that the Bible is not a rule book or instruction manual, rather it is a guide to enable followers to 'crank up' their own engines of Christian discipleship, with a few additives.
The book explores biblical literacy (engagement with the Word of God) and discipleship (engagement with the world). This is not surprising as Peter was a tutor at Cliff College, and among his other 'duties' was encouraging students to engage with the world.
He uses examples of the writings of Augustine, Aldred and Erasmus, as well as the way in which mystery plays have helped people understand biblical stories. Being a Methodist, it would be remiss of Peter not to have included passages written by John Wesley too.
The book also explores what it means to engage with the Word of God in a world where contemporary communication is focused on the digital.
This is a well-written, readable book which provides practical advice to those reading the Bible who want to put what they have read to practical use in the world. It is in itself 'engaging' and very worthwhile reading.
Review by Alan Rashleigh