This summer Crossway is publishing a new resource by Erik Thoennes titledLife’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says about the Things that Matter Most. The goal behind this book is to provide a crash course on Christianity for believers and seekers alike. Thoennes does this by tackling 15 different, and BIG, questions about life and Christianity. The fifteen questions are:
- Does God exist?
- What does it mean to know and love God?
- How does God reveal himself?
- How well can you know God?
- What is God like?
- How do you explain the Trinity?
- Who is Jesus Christ?
- Who is the Holy Spirit?
- What did Jesus Christ accomplish?
- What is a human being?
- How does God relate to his creation?
- What is sin?
- How does God save sinners?
- What is the church?
- How will it all end?
These are huge questions, but the book is a small book, 176 pages in its pre-publication form. This, however, is actually a positive because it provides succinct answers to these large questions. Thoennes has a gift for summarizing and getting to the point. At times you can tell that his deep theological mind wants to go deeper (like when he slips into a discussion on Sabellianism). But for the most part, everything in the book is accessible even to those who have no theological foundations whatsoever.
The one difficulty with this book might be finding a place for it in ministry. The book is not intended to be used as a theological textbook. It does essentially cover the primary headings of systematic theology, but not with the depth that a theological study requires. On the other side, there are issues in the book that are unnecessary for a “baby believer” and could cause frustration (see Sabellianism reference above). Additionally, the book really is an “in house” conversation. What I mean is that it does not really deal with the issues apologetically. Even from the questions you can see that they are the biggest questions that Christians ask, but I don’t know a lot of unbelievers who are asking these questions (I wish they would though).
All that being said, I would not use this for a new believers/baptism/evangelism ministry. However, it would be perfect in a discipleship context. The church as a whole would benefit tremendously if individuals were reading and studying this material together. At the end of every chapter there is even a section explaining the implications of the doctrine being learned and a memory verse for readers to work on. This is a resource that I will use to go through with individuals to help them grow in their doctrinal knowledge, but more than that to help them grow in their devotion to Christ.