27 February 2014

Book Review: Understanding People

Understanding people: Why we long for relationship (1987/2013) by Larry Crabb is an excellent book essentially dealing with anthropology. The book is divided into three sections. The first, entitled "A Sufficient Bible" begins by exploring how people come to know things and then Crabb moves on to an argument for the sufficiency of scripture, rightly conceived.  He effectively addressed the common ways in which people tend to treat the Bible when it comes to psychological difficulties: 1) it has no place because it doesn't directly address every human problem, 2) it is our only focus because it does answer questions, and 3) it is sufficient because it provides categories for thinking and conceptualizing.

Having made his argument that the Bible is a sufficient guide for relational living--again, rightly conceived--in the second section he addressed the issue of anthropology on a deeper level, with specific attention to how he understands what it means to be made in the image of God. After some more theoretical and foundational writing, he comes to the point where he describes all people as personal beings who long deeply, rational beings who think, volitional beings who choose, and emotional beings who feel. Too often, various segments of the church downplay some of these aspects rather than trying to keep them in right balance. He concluded the book with a short third section discussing the evidence and essence of Christian maturity.

Overall, I really appreciated this book.  I read one reviewer who lamented that earlier sections of the book were too academic or theoretical, but I admit I didn't see that at all. Understanding people, as Crabb clearly suggests, cannot be accomplished by 5 easy steps. He effectively described an effective model for understanding God's image bearers.  

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