Cutting to the Heart
Chris Green, IVP (2015)
Chris Green’s book is newly published this year and is therefore right up-to-date. The author concedes that while there already exists an enormous range of contemporary resources on teaching and preaching the Bible there are far fewer on how to actually apply it. This is a valiant attempt to redress some of that balance.
Chris Green is currently Vicar at St James in Muswell Hill, London. He is a teacher of church leadership and planting/ministry and has written a number of theological books. He is a very clever chap who has, on the whole, an engaging style that can draw the reader in, but his obviously deep erudition is in danger of occasionally putting readers off. He does offer real practical help both to young and experienced preachers but sometimes you have to wade through a lot of theology to find it. His book is just as likely to appeal to academics and biblical scholars as it is to practising preachers (of course, these two groups overlap).
Green’s exploration of the issues is structured under six interesting and inviting questions: why has God given us a relevant Bible? How is the Bible supposed to be relevant? How does the Bible apply the Bible? How does the Bible address the heart? How does the Bible engage our attention? How does the Bible apply to different kinds of people? I must say also regarding the book’s structure that it is generally extremely well organised with clearly marked and interesting sub-headings. To Green’s eternal merit all these six parts are full of scriptural evidence and references that back up his arguments and lead the reader logically through his thought processes. There is no shortage of reference material that is well chosen to illustrate the points Green makes. When he is in full flow he can be very persuasive. Occasionally, however, he gets rather bogged down by his own cleverness, and this can leave the reader somewhat floundering rather than being enlightened.
What permeates the whole book is the notion that, ultimately, everything we do and say and preach and think is to God’s glory and we need to consider how what we do and preach brings God glory. These are basic premises, simply put but much harder to achieve.
Reviewed by Ray Taylor