Weird. Books on the Resurrection are like proverbial London buses. None for ages, then several appear at the same time. Don Carson has SCANDALOUS – The Cross & Resurrection coming out in February; Adrian Warnock, doctor and uberblogger, has one out specifically on the resurrection (Raised with Christ) and so does Sam Allberry. But Raised with Christ seems to be getting tons of airtime and exposure around the place, so it only seems fair to give Sam’s new book LIFTED a bit of a push as well. Not quite sure what distinguishes them yet (inevitably), but I’ve certainly enjoyed Sam’s and will enjoy checking out the other two as and when. Perhaps will post a comparison when I’ve got through them all.
‘You’re going to LOVE this’
Well that’s certainly true of the book – but the line actually comes from an experience Sam had hiking up a hill in Kenya’s Rift Valley – he was flagging until his companion shouted these words down to him – which gave him the final adrenalin rush to get him to the top and the spectacular views (p77). And as such, it is a wonderful image for the inspiring reality of the resurrection life as Paul expounds it in Romans, 1 Corinthians and Philippians in particular. It is the hope over the horizon; the thought of what’s to come spurs us on through the darkest days.
Sam’s book is clearly based on a series of talks to students (when he worked at St Ebbe’s in Oxford) – and has all the necessary pith, pace and purpose that you might expect for such a context. This doesn’t try to be anything more than an introduction to key iceberg tips in the vast theology of the resurrection, whether Christ’s and/or ours. Which is precisely what makes it so successful a book. It is simple, clear and straightforward – and as such, ideal as a foundational book for new or young believers.
4 Resurrection Experiences
There’s a nice cross-cultural moment as Sam describes a Thai Buddhist’s assumption that Jesus must also be a good Buddhist – because he read the 4 gospels sequentially, not as parallel narratives, he assumed that Jesus had been reincarnated several times before finally reaching nirvana (which is well below the average!). Well, the 4 resurrection experiences mentioned here are not sequential but all integral to the Christian’s experience of being united with Christ. These 4 chapter headings each sum up a different, complementary aspect of that experience (presumably they were from the 4 original talks):
Each is only around 30 pages and so would suit an extended time of meditation and reflection, or perhaps a study group. Each works through a few bible passages – but it is quite speedy stuff, so perhaps it is good to read a chapter, and then spend a bit more time dwelling on the passages he expounds.
Sam has nice self-deprecation in his illustrations and often has a fun quirky turn of phrase. Every now and then he lifts some of the more mundane (but necessary) observations on familiar passages with a surprising image or twist. I liked, for example, his contrast of advertising before-and-after images (where the before picture is ‘suspiciously smudgy, dark and grainy’ while the after picture is crystal clear) with the warts-and-all depiction of the disciples before as well as after resurrection (pp33-34); or the explanations of why Jesus is like a stuffed tiger (p14) and a mobile phone (p28), and why God is not like a SimCity player (p108) etc. All very helpful.
He’s not afraid to spell out some of the negative implications where needed: especially good were his articulation of the mistaken views of resurrection (the resurrection has already taken place, and there is no resurrection of the dead pp83-86), as were the 4 Corinthian differences between our earthly and resurrection bodies (pp98-99).
All in all – this is a really good addition to the CU or church bookstall. A great place to start.