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Only Human – Christian Reflections on the Journey Toward Wholeness

Jossey-Bass (2005)
RRP: $35.95

Only Human is the first book in the series “Enduring Questions in Christian Life”. As the series suggests they aim to address some of the continuing deep spiritual and moral concerns of Christians and others.

The target audience is “thoughtful seekers” unlikely to reach for “technical works”.

Gushee is an ethicist, pastor and writer who deals with this much-discussed topic with sensitivity and honesty.

The theology is an interesting mix of Protestant and Roman Catholic views with more of an emphasis on the Catholic (Gushee has been Protestant for over 20 years, having grown up Catholic).

As one familiar with this range of views, I found myself warming to his style of writing – though I believe his writing is also accessible to those who do not have that familiarity.

Gushee writes on the topics of sin, goodness, relationships, human nature, freedom and wholeness using a style that is both rational and emotional in a well-balanced dance.

He writes that we are created in the image of God who is so very social and celebrates it – in God’s Trinitarian life-dance, in the communion of saints and in God’s relationship with humanity, particularly in Christ. But he also acknowledges the reality of our broken-ness and sin that causes us to harm those that we love – and most, if not all, of us can say that there are relationships in our past that we have sadly and painfully lost through our own broken-ness.

I believe that Gushee’s approach honestly faces the painful reality of our lives and offers much hope – the grace-full reality of a life lived with God in Christ and the very real part we can play in living that life.

This is not to say that Gushee believes we can earn God’s favour or attention – we already have that in Christ – but that we can make choices to walk with God or away from God within the freedom that we have as humanity created in the image of God.

I suggest interested readers take time over Only Human to allow space for on-going reflection.

Reviewed by Mel Perkins