I am slowly working my way through a number of short titles written and produced by a variety of authors at 9 Marks. Some of them have been placed on my “must read” shelf, while others are good, but probably won’t be revisited. Among the books are What Is aHealthy Church?, Dever’s concise discussion of his original Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (I recommend the smaller digest for all but the really deep readers out there); Thabiti Anyabwile’s What Is a Healthy ChurchMember? which highlights the purpose and life of a Christian who really wants his Christianity to mean something (it’s a nice concise overview of Church Life, and I recommend it to anyone who either is unsure about joining with a local church or is considering what kind of church to join); and What Is the Gospel?, the little black book by Greg Gilbert that I think ought to be read by everyone—Christian and non-Christian alike.
My latest read in this “What Is . . .” series is a digest of some material that Dever presents in two volumes elsewhere at great length. In this short book, the author takes us on a whirlwind tour of the Scriptures. Part I composes roughly the first half of the book and argues that the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments) are worth our while as Christians. In parts II and III, Dever focuses on the Old Testament and the New Testament respectively.
The really positive aspects of this book may spur you to get a copy for a quick read. It is short (only about 120 pages), it reminds the Christian of the usefulness of studying Scripture, and it develops excellent arguments concerning the unity of the message in the whole Bible which leads to a unique unity in the preaching that is based on the Bible and the Life that is lived according to the message found within its covers.
All that said, there are some drawbacks to this volume. For all its shortness, I found it easy to put the book down to read something more interesting. The writing is at times dry, and (even with the author’s warning that it’s about to happen) the repetitive material can at times bog down the reader. I have not read the longer books—Promises Made: The Message of the OldTestament and Promises Kept: The Message of the New Testament (collections of sermons that this volume is based on)—but think that it might serve the reader to dive into the them for a more complete look at this much needed topic.
Three and one-half out of four reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, January 13, 2012