Our bodies matter to God. After all God created us in His image and likeness, and breathed life into us. Even while acknowledging that precious truth, I’ve never really thought very seriously, or ever read a book that seeks to examine the relationship of our bodies to our faith. Matthew Anderson in Earthen Vessels Why Our Bodies Matter To Our Faith writes to bring awareness to the evangelical Church (and broader I’m sure) about what the Bible teaches about the human body.
In his examination of the human body, Matthew delivers an integrated approach to a topic I wish more was written on more. Before reading this book, I wasn’t even aware there was a conversation going on about the body at all. Having read Matthew’s book, I now understand that this is a very important conversation to have. The reason this conversation about our bodies matter is we are flesh and blood. It’s easy to forget this simply truth in the business of our everyday lives as we scurry about with our jobs, families, and so on, living as if our minds and soul were all that mattered. The problem is God created us from dust, and being physical beings in a physical world affects everything from our use of technology to our sexuality and our worship.
I’ve already mentioned that I greatly appreciate the integrated approach of this book, so let’s crack open the book and take a look inside. Matthew opens up his book by outlining the reason the body is neglected and why this issue is important. The book continues in chapter four and five by looking at the body towards others and as shaped by the world. Chapters six through eleven look at the body as it relates to the issue of tattoos, homosexuality, spiritual disciplines and the Church.
The author contends that “if ever there was a question about the goodness of the physical body, the incarnation of Jesus Christ definitively answered it” (21). With this statement the author launches out on his intended goal in this book to “make much of Jesus and his work for us, and to help those who wish to know him more deeply bring their entire lives under his care and love” (18).
Since we live in a world that glorifies the body thinking through what the body is, is vital. The Greeks and the Romans worshiped the human body and we are just like them in this false worship except today we worship the human body through viewing illicit images through the internet, movies, and so on. While the means we view the beauty of the human body has changed from sculptures to pictures in magazines and screens on the computer the fact is the worship of ourselves and our bodies hasn’t changed. The biggest reason I appreciate this book is Matthew doesn’t let us off the hook for our false worship but rather points us to the One in Jesus who can fulfill our greatest longings and desires.
After all we aren’t just minds, and we aren’t just what we do, those are functions of what it means to be human. What we do and what we think should never be viewed as encompassing our identity. Our identity as humans isn’t rooted in what we do but in God who created us, who loved us so much He sent His Son Jesus who lived a perfect life, died victoriously and rose triumphantly that we might be indwelt by His Spirit and enjoy Him both now as His adopted sons and daughters and more fully in His presence when we will be clothed in white.
Earthen Vessels is an important book that I hope my readers will consider getting. This book is a good place to begin if you’re like me and not familiar with the conversation going on from an evangelical perspective about the human body. Whether you’re familiar with this issue or not, I encourage you to read Earthen Vessels, because it will help you to not only understand the biblical issues at stake, but also the other issues such as homosexuality, and our sexuality as they relate to the body.
Author: Matthew Anderson
Publisher: Bethany House (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”