Book Review: Body & Soul
Author: M. Craig Barnes
Publisher: Faith Alive ISBN: 9781592557455
I get a great deal of joy and much insight from reading and studying the ancient creeds and confessions of the Church. When the opportunity presented itself to review this book, Body & Soul, by Craig Barnes, I was more than delighted to volunteer. Now, after having the opportunity to spend some time with the book, I can confidently state that it is a wonderful resource and I have greatly enjoyed the insightful commentary from Professor Barnes regarding the Heidelberg Catechism.
My Church background is rather storied and very ecumenical. I have enjoyed fellowship among a great many traditions within Protestantism and I have received training in the Benedictine tradition as well. I say this to qualify my comments that I do not necessarily stand unilaterally with the confessions claimed in the Heidelberg Catechism. With that disclaimer aside, there are rich foundational truths found in this teaching tool that (I believe) any Christian tradition can benefit from. If one is not aware, the Heidelberg Catechism is a primary catechism of the Reformed Tradition. While there are some proclamations of doctrine here that I may be in disagreement with, there also exists the opportunity for conversation and deeper learning. This, in my opinion, is the value of learning from creeds, confessions, and catechisms from outside one’s own tradition.
The book is a total of seven main chapters, each of which take a portion of the catechism and break it down by theme; for example, chapter one is titled The Only Comfort and addresses he first question and answer of the catechism. The second chapter, Our Misery and Our Mediator, addresses questions and answers found in numbers two through twenty-five of the catechism. Subsequent chapter and themes follow with the seventh chapter devoted the Heidelberg Catechism, as it is formally written and complete. Professor Barnes has thoughtfully included this last chapter encapsulated in a format that could easily be used in a daily devotional, which I plan to use as such at some point in the future.
“It’s impossible to understand the Christian faith without the voice of a holy tradition that is always waiting to be our teacher in the faith.” M. Craig Barnes
This is a thoughtful and timely book. I believe it is very readable and accessible to most reading levels. I did not find the book overly academic at all. In fact, I do think it could serve as a discipleship tool from the ages of upper middle-school through adult.