Some years ago I read a book written by J.I. Packer called God’s Words: Studies of Key Bible Themes. More than a concordance, less than a book of theological essays, it explored the meanings of certain heavy theological and doctrinal words Christians take for granted. I found the book enlightening and fun. We Christians find certain things “fun;” what can I say?
Then there was also R.C. Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. Another book which explored the vocabulary, semantics, and Greek roots of words Christian use so often, so mistakenly, and so lightly.
Now, Keri Wyatt Kent has written Deeper into the Word, a book very like the two predecessors. I never quite know what to do with a book that goes over ground others have ploughed before. Honestly, all one can do is compare among the three. Packer is a theologian. Sproul is a philosopher and an expert of Christian history. Keri Wyatt Kent is a writer and Christian radio personality. All three are populist in their way, people who want to evangelize to certain segments of the world and show Christians the beauty, simplicity, and truths of the Christian faith.
Deeper into the Word is an accessible book. Like the other three, it is written to its audience. The author writes like one who has spoken to a radio audience, whereas Packer often seems to write to those who have been Christians for a long time, and Sproul writes like a professor. All three are evangelical and ambassadorial in their own way but many times I find myself nervously doubting Kent’s assertions. Oftentimes, she doesn’t go as deep into the word or the historical context of a word as she thinks.
For instance, when she states, “Once, when a blind man came to Jesus for healing, the disciples asked a question that reflected the common theology of the day: ‘Who sinned, this man or his parents?’ Physical afflictions was punishment for sin, in their minds.” I find myself asking (because I know the answer from reading Sproul and Packer) “Why doesn’t this author explain why Jesus’ disciples thought a baby could sin in its mother’s womb?” There are other examples of that kind of slippage. And often, she gives other theological definitions of a concept – forgiveness, for instance — instead of really going deeper into the Greek meaning of the word.