Review: The Paradox of Holiness and Faith in Search of Obedience

41cgii7v3xlThere is something exciting, and even motivating about engaging with a previously unpublished work by the late evangelical theologian Donald G. Bloesch. Those familiar with Bloesch’s work will most assuredly share these feelings. Bloesch was a professor of theology at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary for nearly forty years. Bloesch is a well-known author who has published widely within the scholarly community, including the seven-volume Christian Foundations series and the two-volume Essentials of Evangelical Theology.

The Paradox of Holiness and Faith in Search of Obedience takes two previously unpublished books from Bloesch’s pen and sandwiches them between a single, stamped hardcover, and both are classic Bloesch.

The Paradox of Holiness is a brief book of devotional theology that Bloesch intended to cultivate a theology of spiritual life through the shaping and definition of the Word of God. The chapters are generally a few pages in length and cover a host of topics related to the Christian life, including faith, joy, love, piety, humility, meekness, wisdom, long-suffering, and much more. Each chapter begins with a few related quotes from Christians past, followed by a sensitive exposition of the topic that displays an intentional balance between invitation and challenge.

Faith in Search of Obedience brings the reader to the base of Protestant Christianity and Bloesch’s Christian life, as he presents for the reader his spiritual autobiography and invites them to live within the reality that justification is received by grace through faith—a faith that is motivated towards obedience and delight in God. As Bloesch writes, “while we are justified by faith alone, faith does not remain alone but drives us to obey the law of God in its unity with the gospel” (vii). The publisher has also included several pages of photographs of Bloesch and his family to visually connect the story of his life being told.

In many ways, The Paradox of Holiness and Faith in Search of Obedience is the perfect pair for those either familiar or unfamiliar with Donald G. Bloesch. Bloesch set the stage with a clear challenge to cultivate a spiritual life shaped by the Word of God. Then, in a moment of candid authenticity, Bloesch invites the reader into his own journey, to realize his own struggles, and to discover his same hope.

Of all the books that I’ve read by Donald G. Bloesch, I say with confidence that The Paradox of Holiness and Faith in Search of Obedience is among the most encouraging. This is a book that will collectively point your thoughts towards Christ and challenge you to remain there forever. It should make its way onto the reading list of all seriously-minded Christians. It comes highly recommended!

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