Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hammer of God

The Hammer of God, Bo Giertz

This is Christian fiction at its absolute best. This book, which consists of three novellas, was written by Swedish pastor and theologian Bo Giertz. This revised edition, translated by Nelson and Andrae, also includes some introductory comments to help the English reader place the novellas in their place in Swedish history.

Each novella is located in a different time, while the local setting is the same parish in rural southern Sweden:

The Hammer of God (the first novella) is set in 1808-1810
Jesus Only (the second) is set in 1878-1880
On This Rock (the third) is set in 1938-1940

Don't let ignorance about this time of history (especially in Sweden) put you off! Giertz writes about issues of faith which have confronted all believers from the time of Christ - the true nature of grace, our sinfulness and the power of God alone to save.

The back cover summarises better than I could:
Based on the theme of spiritual regeneration, The Hammer of God reads like a good detective story, immersing the reader in the unfolding events that present a spiritual drama of death and life, of despair and hope, of upheaval and peace, of sin and grace. Faith comes down to a matter of relying either of our own accomplishments to be right with God or on receiving as a free gift by grace the righteousness Christ gained for us. The basic questions of faith remains the same today as in generations past.
Each novella is based around a new pastor coming to fill a position at the parish. Each has faults in his beliefs about God and his faith, and through the witness of others, each is forced to see the gospel afresh again.

As the minister in the final novella finally grasps the true grace of God, bought only through the blood of Jesus, he preaches to his congregation:
I choose this day to turn away from all that is my own and to consecrate myself to contend for the apostolic faith. I would no longer censure it or make myself its master, as you know that I have done. I would no longer add to it or subtract from it, because I care not claim to be wiser that the Lord and his apostles. I will not point to my own experiences, but with rather with Paul glory in my weaknesses. God has shown me that I am a sinner. Perhaps he will now in his mercy also let me be saved in the old way, by grace alone. (p271)
There is a depth to the theological discussion which would benefit anyone and it is made even more readable because is it in the setting of a novel. I won't pretend it doesn't require your attention - but it  is well worth it. I felt refreshed and renewed by God after each time I sat down to read it.

We are encouraged to move on to solid food, not staying with milk, in order to grow in the Christian life (Heb 5:12-6:3). This is solid food. It is highly recommended reading for any Christian, and especially those in full-time ministry. Why not buy a copy for yourself and your minister?  

1 comment:

Tom said...

Couldn't agree more - this book is very highly recommended. Glad to see it back in print - it was unavailable for a long time.