18 November 2012

Book Review: The Hammer of God

I just finished this remarkable novel written by Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God.  The book, made up of 3 novellas, was written in 1960 by a Swedish pastor, linked around the concept of God's grace.  The introductory notes are a must read and reveal the following: Three parishes in the same location of Sweden are featured, one in 1808, a second in 1878, and a third in 1937.  Each section seeks to address a theological problem affecting the churches at the time.  In the first case, rationalism had its grip on the church and Giertz points the reader back to nourishment of God's word and Christ alone.  In the second, he discussed two types of revivalism, the second leading to legalism.  In the final section, he examines the increasing influence of liberal theology upon the church.  Presented in fictional form, the reader is unwittingly drawn into a discussion of theology and of classical Lutheranism, a clear strength. 

I would like to share some brief snippets, hopefully to draw you into the story.

From the first story: "Sitting there in the carriage, it seemed to him that God was just as distant and exalted for him as the cloudless and spacious summer sky above him--infinitely majestic, gentle in his summer warmth, but oh, so far away! For the people he had just learned to know, God was also the earth and the common day. He was as near to them as the Bible on the table or the clothes they wore. He was as real as the ploughed fields and the mountain crags. His wrath was like a tempest and a fever, his mercy like a lovely sabbath morning. For them, everything was near and palpable. And yet they had the infinity of heaven remaining above them!"

From the second: " The conscience, our own anxiety, and all slaves of the law bid us go the way of obedience to the very end in order to find peace with God. But the way of obedience has no end. It lies endlessly before you, bringing continually severer demands and constantly growing indebtedness. If you seek peace on that road, you will not find peace, but the debt of ten thousand talents instead. But now Christ is the end of the law; the road ends at his feet, and here his righteousness is offered to everyone who believes. It is to that place, to Jesus only, that God has wanted to drive you with all your unrest and anguish of soul."

This is a good book and worth the read.  It is probably something you haven't considered before, but let me recommend it to you.

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