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  • Writer's picturePastor MacLaren

New Horizons Book Review: "God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine," by Iain Wright.

God Is Always Better Than We Can Imagine: 31 Meditations on the Greatness of God, by Iain Wright. Banner of Truth, 2019. Paperback, 239 pages, $12.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Richard Scott MacLaren.

From time to time I’m asked to recommend a good devotional for deepening one’s spiritual life. I must admit that I have a hard time doing so. Much of contemporary devotional material is superficial and fails to encourage thoughtful meditation on God’s Word. Some drifts into a mysticism that confuses the Spirit of Christ with our feelings and “inner voice.” Others are moralistic and point to the example of Christ but forget his atonement. Reformed classics like Spurgeon’s MORNING AND EVENING or Kuyper’s TO BE NEAR UNTO GOD are rather dated now in their language and relevance to modern experience. The wonderful CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE would probably tax the patience of most.

In his essay on THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS, the great B. B. Warfield reminds us that theological studies should always lead beyond knowledge to doxology. This is the experience I have had in reading Ian Wright’s book, “GOD IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN WE CAN IMAGINE: 31 Meditations on the Greatness of God.” Published by Banner of Truth, it is a comfortably sized paperback of 239 pages. Each meditation is about 8 pages in length and reads like a novel. To this former English major, Mr. Wright’s prose is a delight, appealing to both mind and heart. His meditations are theologically rich and pastorally sound.

Mr. Wright uses Ephesians 3:14-21 as a tour guide through the corridors of redemptive history. Each chapter takes the reader’s hand and points with enthusiasm to the art gallery of God’s glory and grace. We are left with ever expanding views of the unexpected and unimagined in redemptive history. Surely “God is always better than we can imagine,” and a sense of wonder fills the heart at the sheer abundance of God’s grace. A very human, sympathetic touch is evident throughout as Mr. Wright shares common experiences that illumine the narrative.

My only criticism is that I wish Mr. Wright found different ways of saying “God is always greater than we can imagine.” Its repetition becomes mechanical and somewhat distracting. I’m sure it was designed to serve a pedagogical purpose, but I think it could be just as effective to say the same thing in different ways. Otherwise, of this book I would borrow the words that intrigued a young Augustine in his Confessions, “Take up and read!” When he reported this to his mother, she rejoiced and blessed the One who is “able to do above that which we ask or think....” (CONFESSIONS, chapter 12).

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