Sunday, June 4, 2023

Formed in His Image by Coleman Ford and J T English Book Review

About the Book:

Every day, we are being formed by what we consume and engage. From social media to the latest Netflix binge, our minds are being led by what we ingest with our eyes. Yet, the call of the Christian is this: to be conformed to Christ.

The work of Christian formation is an exercise in surrender of the whole self, dwelling in God's Word and allowing Him to shape and mold His people. In this book, you'll find:  

·       A call to recover truth, goodness, and beauty in the work of formation 
·       A clear presentation of key doctrines and the work of "getting it right" for rich Christian formation 
·       Practical guidance on developing a culture of formation within your church 
·       A call to a deepened commitment to formation through embracing humility, cultivating friendship, and pursuing a vibrant spiritual life 

My Review:

Spiritual formation has been an interest of mine for decades and I had high hopes for this book. I was particularly impressed by the authors realizing a kind of spiritual formation appealing to the intellect has not served us well. “Only when we see formation as an exercise in love, not information, will our Christian life begin to flourish." (136/2118) They suggest the use of imagination. They say our aim should be “knowing and enjoying God in his manifest works in the world and salvation.” (319/2118) They appeal to the historic idea that the pinnacle of Christian life is beholding God in his infinite wonder and beauty. We are off to a good start, I thought.

However, when the authors write of the work of the Spirit, they suggest understanding that work, as act of the intellect, the accumulation of information, rather than a spiritual endeavor. While they do later write about meditating on the Word, there is no encouragement to learn how to sense the leading of the Spirit. In fact, they say we are not to depend on spiritual and emotional experiences but rather the “gospel fruit forged in the trials of everyday life.” (952/2118) We are not given any insights into living in the Spirit or walking in the Spirit as Paul commanded in Gal. 5:25, something I think is essential to being transformed in the inner being.

In the end, this book is typical to others on spiritual formation and does not add any new insights into means or methods. Go to church. Be in the Word. Have a spiritual friend. Learn through suffering.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Authors:

Coleman M. Ford 
is an author, teacher, and speaker devoted to imparting the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Christian tradition. He has taught for numerous schools and theological seminaries and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Humanities at Texas Baptist College in Fort Worth, Texas. His work has appeared in Christian publications such as The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, as well as numerous academic journals and presses. He writes on early Christian thought and spirituality, as well as spiritual formation for modern Christians. He is married to Alex and they have three beautiful children. You can find out more at 

J. T. English
, PhD, is an author and teacher, and currently serves as the lead pastor of Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, CO. Previously, J.T. served as a pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX, where he founded and directed The Village Church Institute, which is committed to theological education in the local church. He received his ThM in Historical Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and PhD in Systematic Theology from Southern Seminary. He is married to Macy English, and they have two children, Thomas and Bailey.

B&H Publishing Group, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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