Book Review: Why Christ Came-31 Meditations on the Incarnation

why-Christ-cameWhy Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation by Joel R. Beeke and Willaim Boekesten

I look forward to anything by Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. I call him the busiest man in Christian publishing because he is authoring and editing so many new books each year and has resurrected so much Puritan material.

In the Preface, the author writes, “Learning the reasons for Christ’s advent will help us more deeply celebrate His birth, allow us to see more clearly how it is connected with the rest of His ministry, and help us understand its importance for our lives.” I think the book succeeds very well in this objective.

However, I was rather taken aback by what he writes soon after, lamenting the general lack of knowledge and apologetics: “Suppose someone asked you, ‘Why did Jesus come to earth?’ You could probably come up with one or two reasons.” If you want to offend some of the readers, even if it’s a minority, that’s a pretty good way to do it. I read this paragraph a few times, hoping I was misunderstanding. That sounds very condescending to me. As an exercise, without having seen the table of contents yet, I thought of six major reasons Christ came. When I saw that some of the chapters were narrower in scope, I could come up with 6-10 more. One of my pet peeves is when authors make broad assumptions about the reader.

Thankfully that was an aberration–the only one that I saw. The whole book is very positive in tone and links why Christ came to how that affects our lives in a personal way.

Each chapter is about three pages long and is titled “To…”, stating a purpose, with a verse or passage of Scripture, sometimes two, as a heading. The content of each chapter is topical, based on the chapter title. It’s meaty material. It would be difficult to write fluff based on Why Christ Came, but I’m sure there are plenty up to the task (down to the task?). But not here. There are a few anecdotes sprinkled in, but not as much as you would find in most devotional material. There are also some quotes from Reformed theologians from the past, the Heidelberg Catechism, and often a versification of part of a Psalm at the end of a chapter. And there is a lot of Scripture. Everything written is backed up by the Bible.

There are a few end notes, but they are only for sources of quotes. All Scripture references and quote authors are noted in the text of the chapter.

There are only two other very minor negatives or things I would change based on my preferences. First of all, using the KJV. I have no problem with the translation. It’s wonderful. But some of the verses quoted in key areas were totally lost on those not well versed (get it?) in 17th century English, like “sore amazed”, quoting Mark 14:33 on pg 3. One of these centuries, I think we’re going to have to get past this. The other is that some of the chapter’s content will wander from the title, even within the three pages. I don’t think this is really a problem, since the book most likely won’t be used as reference material. It would seem a bit more organized and focused if the author kept the material closer to the title or used a different title.

But that was a long paragraph on a couple of tiny nitpicks. This is an unusual devotional in that it teaches the reader so much and pulls together so much Scripture in only three pages for each subject. I hope people don’t think of this as a “Christmas Devotional”, because it’s something that should be meditated on all the time and can also be kept for when wanting to read something short. It’s one that could always be left on the coffee table or nightstand.

This book was provided by Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a fair review.

You can find this at in paperback and Kindle formats.

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