Sometimes it’s hard to connect with the Scriptures. The stories seem disconnected and even random. Some of the passages appear downright boring and dry. Does it really matter who begat who and which ritualistic laws the Israelites followed thousands of years ago?
Dr. Larry Crabb believes the Bible is alive and active today and bursting at the seams with the story of God’s love for humanity. In his latest book, 66 LOVE LETTERS, he writes, “Most Christians don’t know the Bible well. Many wish they did. But not everyone is convinced they need to know it. Inspiring music, some biblical tips for living, a few interesting Christian books, and occasional serious study are too often seen as sufficient for living the Christian life.”
Troubled by how many believers seem to bypass the Bible and diminish the importance of knowing its content, Crabb decided to look at each book of the Bible individually. He began to visualize each book as a love letter from God to him, a “fickle friend, cheating spouse, (and) spoiled child.” Crabb chose to format 66 LOVE LETTERS in an unusual way. After reading each book, he writes down an open conversation that he has with God. “Love Letter One: Genesis” begins by Crabb asking, “God, what are You saying to me in Your first love letter, Genesis?” Then, he records God’s reply: “What I’m saying and what I want you to hear is this: You’ve made a mess but I have a plan!”
God continues explaining, and along the way Crabb interjects questions, doubts and clarifications. He is brutally honest with his struggles and with God’s explanation. The Genesis chapter ends with Crabb admitting, “God, I’m not really all that warmed by Your first love letter though the promise of restored beauty does stir something deep. I think I need to read more. Thanks for listening.” God responds, “I always listen. And I’ll never turn away from you. Yes, keep reading.”
The tone of the writing often resembles THE SHACK in that God is given extended dialogue. The strength of this format is that it’s a fresh approach at looking at the big picture of the Biblical story. It allows readers to grasp the crimson ribbon of love that runs throughout the Old Testament and the New. Crabb’s honesty reveals moments of strength, doubt and transformation. The format’s weakness is that sometimes the dialogue between Crabb and God seems forced or unrealistic. Occasionally, God becomes teachy and/or preachy, and His dialogue is so forced that it really doesn’t sound like God at all.
One portion reads, “You are more Ptolemaic than Copernican. Claudius Ptolemy, a first-century astronomer, thought the sun revolved around the earth. You naturally assume My agenda revolves around yours. Sixteen centuries later, Nicholas Copernicus realized the earth revolves around the sun. It takes a long time to understand that I am not here for you, but that you are here for Me.”
While the point being made is solid, the way that it’s expressed sounds far more like a history teacher than God speaking. Despite such unrealistic moments, 66 LOVE LETTERS is a rich resource for those who want to explore the grand story of God’s love for us. Recommended as a devotional or accompanying resource for daily study.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2011