Be Excellent as Christ Is Excellent

Be Grounded in God’s Own Glory and Excellence As Daniel Harrington and James Keenan contend, “From an ethical viewpoint, the end is the quintessential point of departure, since strong ethical systems always start with the end. The goal always defines the agenda being...

The Necessity of the Atonement

We’ve been looking at the atonement in our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. First, we looked at a few theories of the atonement that don’t do justice to the teaching of Scripture. Then, we looked at the biblical teaching of the...

Husband of One Wife and Fighting Sexual Sin

On today’s Warriors of Grace episode, Dave talks about what it means to be a husband of one wife, along with providing strategies to learn to fight sexual sin with Scripture, joy in the Lord, and other practical guidance. What you’ll hear in this episode What it means...

John Knox: The Founder of the Presbyterian Church

When we consider the Reformers, we may picture strong men and women with booming voices that echoed around the gathered crowd. We picture them as fearless, rebuking whoever contradicted the true teachings of Scripture, calling out heresy for what it was. But this...

Christ-Centered Teaching: How His Kingdom Comes

Introduction What is the message we have to preach, but this? “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Recently I preached this core Christian message. It was recorded, and subsequently broadcast on several sites that ended up on the Internet. I often receive replies to...

Tim Chester- Truth We Can Touch: How Baptism and Communion Shape Our Lives

On today’s Equipping You in Grace show, Dave and Tim Chester talk about the purpose and nature of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, how Christian’s shared stories give them identity and shape the way they live, along with his new book, Truth We Can Touch: How Baptism and...
Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace
Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams

Posted On December 5, 2018

There’s a book popping up on lots of “Best of 2018” lists called Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) by Kate Bowler. I had the privilege of hearing Kate Bowler, professor at Duke Divinity School, tell her story at the Festival of Faith and Writing this spring. Basically, her story is this: after devoting her academic research to explaining the “prosperity gospel” phenomenon and unpacking with compassion the allure of the promises made in prosperity-centered churches, Bowler got diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Just after dismantling the false promises of the prosperity gospel, she found herself maybe wanting the prosperity gospel to be true. Shouldn’t there be a method that could make God cure you? She details this experience in her memoir with honesty and humor. It’s a charming book (albeit with some salty language) that explores the conflict that occurs when our idealistic principles are tested by the pain of real life.

Like Bowler, Sarah Williams is a professor and a Christian when she receives one of the most frightening diagnoses: her already beloved but unborn daughter will not survive out of the womb. She recognizes that her principles are on trial. But this is not a cold ethical dilemma. This is a warm child living in her womb. Immediately, Williams recognizes that her “principles… were simply not enough to gives us the capacity to go on. They stopped short, leaving a great chasm of pain.”

Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian tells the story of principles played out in real life. It is one thing to know what ought to be done in such a situation. It is another thing entirely to live it.

Williams lives out her principles, yes, but she does so because she is compelled by love. And it is a lovely tragedy to witness. Her family surrounds her with love, loving the baby through the way they care for Sarah during the “summer of Cerian” as they anticipate the baby’s stillbirth. Her most intimate support network includes her husband, her mother, her daughters, and her friend Janet whose concurrent pregnancy means that “Janet chose to grieve with me. Later I would have to choose to celebrate with her. Both choices were costly.”

This is a story about weakness and willingness. Williams’ retelling of the events of these poignant months offers insight into the human cost of bioethical decisions. Throughout her retelling of this story, Williams makes some subtle but important distinctions about her choice. When one doctor asks if she is deciding not to terminate on “strong religious grounds,” Williams clarifies that she does have strong religious beliefs, but they aren’t the reason she made this decision. “Cerian is not a strong religious principle or a rule that compels me to make a hard and fast ethical decisions. She is a beautiful person who is teaching me to love the vulnerable, treasure the unlovely, and face fear with dignity and hope.”

Reading this is bearing witness to what it means to be pro-life. What we are willing to do for the least of these is the ultimate display of our faith, but it comes at a cost. Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian is a beautiful exploration of love bearing all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). Williams’ thoughtful retelling makes this a powerful book.

Related Posts

Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace

Be Excellent as Christ Is Excellent

Be Grounded in God’s Own Glory and Excellence As Daniel Harrington and James Keenan contend, “From an ethical viewpoint, the end is the quintessential point of departure, since strong ethical systems always start with the end. The goal always defines the agenda being...

Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace

The Necessity of the Atonement

We’ve been looking at the atonement in our study of Great Doctrines of the Bible by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. First, we looked at a few theories of the atonement that don’t do justice to the teaching of Scripture. Then, we looked at the biblical teaching of the...

Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace

Husband of One Wife and Fighting Sexual Sin

On today’s Warriors of Grace episode, Dave talks about what it means to be a husband of one wife, along with providing strategies to learn to fight sexual sin with Scripture, joy in the Lord, and other practical guidance. What you’ll hear in this episode What it means...

Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace

John Knox: The Founder of the Presbyterian Church

When we consider the Reformers, we may picture strong men and women with booming voices that echoed around the gathered crowd. We picture them as fearless, rebuking whoever contradicted the true teachings of Scripture, calling out heresy for what it was. But this...

Human, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams, Servants of Grace, Servants of Grace

Christ-Centered Teaching: How His Kingdom Comes

Introduction What is the message we have to preach, but this? “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Recently I preached this core Christian message. It was recorded, and subsequently broadcast on several sites that ended up on the Internet. I often receive replies to...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekly Roundup of Links 12/3/2018-12/8/2018 - Servants of Grace - […] Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Charlotte Williams reviewed by Laura Lundgren https://servantsofgrace.org/perfectly-human-nine-months-with-cerian-by-sarah-charlotte-williams/ […]
  2. Dave and Laura's Top Books for 2018 and Vision for Servants of Grace in 2019 - […] Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian by Sarah Williams. Read Laura’s review here. […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share24
Tweet12
Share
Pin
Buffer