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The Bondservant's Life

John Brenner Chandler in his book The Bondservant's Life aimed at a very large task of providing a foundation for understanding prophecy and calling people into a deeper knowledge of God. Although I applaud the book for encouraging readers with some basic principles of the Christian faith, from hermeneutics to adoption, I found the books' aim disappointing. At times, we get a dose of apologeics (p.231ff) on topics like the Sabbath and Christmas, and at other times we get explanation of biblical texts (p.314)like Jesus' high priestly prayer.

Chapter 8 on the role of the law was good in that Chandler wrote about the law's use in ancient Israel as a guardian and as promoting the way life should be conducted (Ten Commandments). Later on in the chapter he recognizes that the law produces death for those today by pointing out the futility of their own strivings after perfection (Chandler relies heavily on Luther here, 156). Furthermore, Chandler helpfully locates the law within the context of Jesus fulfilling the requirements of the law's demands. Yet, I was hoping for a fuller discussion on the law and the Christian in this chapter. The law of Moses can also be seen by its application as providing a moral framework for understanding how we understand authorities in our own society but also direct us in the way of worship.

The bondservant theme as choosing to remain a slave to our Master is part of the way in which Paul and other biblical writers choose to describe Christians. Yet, this theme or application is not the only way Christians are described in the New Testament. I think the temptation is to take one prominent theme in the text of the Bible and to make it the theme of utmost importance. But, as we begin to see the way Chandler uses the term, a bondservant of Jesus is one who engages in utter devotion to God and His Word (33), which is a positive way of seeing life in the kingdom.

I think this book provides some good discussion about important biblical themes such as interpretation, Jesus and the Law, and the Holy Spirit. The book ends up being more prescriptive of certain principles in the Bible than rather understanding the Scriptures from a descriptive, story-line driven narrative.

Thanks to Book Crash for the review copy of this book.

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