All I can say is “phenomenal!” What a fantastic idea this book was. If you’ve ever read Thomas A’Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ” and liked the conversational format, then you’ll probably like this book as well.
Imagine you’ve just received a letter from your beloved and you were able to have a conversation with him/her about the letter. Your beloved allows you to react honestly and openly without being offended as you reveal your skepticism, anger, fear, and excitement. Your beloved then responds to you about your responses and whether or not your emotions are warranted. Maybe you don’t see something the way your beloved does and s/he desires to explain it.
This is exactly how Dr. Crabb formatted “66 Love Letters.” Each book in the bible is treated as it’s own, separate love letter from God to humanity, hence the book’s title. Dr. Crabb introduces each love letter with a short phrase that summarizes the main thrust of the letter. For instance, in “Love Letter Twenty-Five: Lamentations”, Dr. Crabb writes the following subheading which serves as the main idea: “Painful Thirst Creates Joyful Hope.”
Within the body of the conversation, Dr. Crabb writes his honest reflections about the letter and then listens to God’s response. Each chapters includes “bantering” back and forth between Dr. Crabb and God, and each chapter is only 2-4 pages long.
Somewhere in each dialogue, Dr. Crabb includes a longer summary statement about the love letter, all as part of the conversation. There’s no confusion about what is the summary statement: it’s written in bold type. Continuing with the Lamentations example, he writes, “Every moment of suffering represents a strident but merciful call to repent. And every moment of suffering presents a painful opportunity to hope” (p.128).
If you can’t already tell, I really like this book. Here are some specifics:
1) “66 Love Letters” in an inspiration to read the bible more frequently and in a more reflective way. Each reflection affords invaluable insight into the book’s ideas that may typically be out of sight of the average bible reader. This allows for a more insightful reading of the biblical book.
2) As is the case in non-fiction books, authors always have tidbits they believe will be insightful for their readers. In this book, we are in a sense intruding on a private conversation and are stealing those tidbits from the dialogue between Dr. Crabb and God. In essence, though, those tidbits are intended for us.
3) Dr. Crabb stressed at the beginning of the book that “66 Love Letters” is designed to be a study tool, not something a reader should read through in a few sittings. He hopes each reader will use this in conjunction with careful bible study.
4) Finally, Dr. Crabb hopes readers will reflect carefully on each book and take away from it what the Spirit of God prompts in the reader. He admits his reflections are his and may not be ours.
What I disliked: Honestly, nothing!
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