Close Enough to Hear God Breathe

The great story of divine intimacy is the subject of Greg Paul's book 'Close Enough to Hear God Breathe'. He likens studying scripture to dissecting your pet frog: you may learn a lot about the frogs anatomy, but what you have left at the end is not a pet frog.

Paul encourages the reader not only to study portions of scripture, but to read the bible as a whole story, with four great themes; Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation.

Although I agree that we can sometimes miss the bigger picture when studying scripture, I do feel that Paul leans too heavily on his story metaphor, retelling sections of the bible in dramatic ways, but with so many added details that the actual scripture becomes a very minor part of the story. His poetic license is stretched to the very limit.

It reminded me of the time my English teacher lost her temper over a piece of coursework that talked about Tibalt shooting Mercutio (the offending author had seen Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet and had never bothered to read the actual play). I wouldn't recommend this book to a new Christian or someone who didn't read their bible well.

However, I did enjoy the book and found two parts particularly striking. The first was in the 'Creation' section of the book.

"A theology that begins with the "total depravity of man" is a theology that starts the story off in chapter two... ...[that] theological system starts too late, essentially ignoring the foundational value of the creation story... ...and all that happens before the Fall, is too precious to relegate it to the status of meaningless introduction".

All too often we can focus on the sinfulness of mankind, without recalling the height from which we have fallen; the wonderful creation that we were always meant to be.

The second thing that really struck me in this book was in the section on the Fall. Paul uses the example of his two children. One is injured through his own fault and one through a sickness that could not be helped. Both end up in hospital. His response as their father is not to be angry with either one, despite causation, but to buy them chocolates.

A beautiful example of how God's favour rests on us, regardless of our sinful nature or the predicaments we find ourselves in. This single chapter revealed more about my Father's heart to bless me, regardless of my circumstances, than many sermons ever have. I'd heard it before, but the simple illustration allowed me to understand it.

Close enough to hear God breathe has many examples like this, and despite the amount of fiction thrown in, I still think its a great book for an adult who already knows these scriptures and won't be easily influenced by the extra details.


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