Subscribe now

Review

Seeing Beauty & Saying Beautifully

By John Piper
February 2015 | Review by Andrew Wheeler
  • Publisher: IVP
  • ISBN: 978-1-78359-110-7
  • Pages: 168
  • Price: 7.99

Book Review

Seeing beauty and saying beautifully
John Piper
IVP
158 pages, £7.99
ISBN: 978-1783591107
Star rating : 3

The subtitle of this book is ‘The power of poetic effort: George Herbert, George Whitefield and C. S. Lewis’. The book’s central argument is that ‘poetic effort’, or the effort to say beautifully, is itself a way of seeing more of the beauty one is trying to express.

This argument is illustrated with reference to the three Christians named, all of whom made great effort to express the beauty of the things of God and salvation in Jesus Christ. This makes the introduction crucial, since it is here the central argument is made.

The three following chapters look at the case studies in turn and in light of the introduction’s proposal.

In the introduction, Piper confesses that his biggest fear is of contradicting 1 Corinthians 1:17 and 2:1. He proceeds to argue cogently that he is not, not least because the Bible itself contains much poetry and other beautiful and striking use of language.

The three case studies are well chosen in that they are diverse. All three chapters are moving in places. It is good to see some well deserved, evangelical attention paid to George Herbert.

On Whitefield, Piper’s main point is that he was a dramatic and riveting preacher because he felt the reality of what he preached. No doubt that is true, but Piper also seems to feel that this is enough to discount the view of some that he was overly theatrical (his acting skill being ‘prominent in his youth before his conversion’, p.92). Ultimately, judgement is not ours, but surely there might be truth in both statements.

The chapter on Lewis is an excellent and stimulating overview of how the Oxford don ticked.

Overall, this is a well argued, well illustrated and enjoyable book. One drawback, however, was the amount of repetition, the worst example being the conclusion, which is a mere summary and entirely superfluous.

The book is suited to preachers, but all Christian readers would benefit since we are all commanded to be ready to speak of the Saviour.

Andrew Wheeler
Keswick

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

The History and Theology of Calvinism
Curt Daniel

This must be the most comprehensive study of the subject available today. It is difficult to think of any aspect of Calvinism that is not covered. It is divided into two major sections. The first covers the history, and ranges…

See all book reviews
The History and Theology of Calvinism
Curt Daniel

This must be the most comprehensive study of the subject available today. It is difficult to think of any aspect of Calvinism that is not covered. It is divided into two major sections. The first covers the history, and ranges…

Searching Our Hearts in Difficult Times
John Owen

It is difficult to do this book justice in a review – the only way to grasp how helpful it is will be to read it for yourself. John Owen has a reputation for writing in a style that is…

An Introduction to John Owen: A Christian vision for every stage of life
Crawford Gribben

It is difficult to do this book justice in a review – the only way to grasp how helpful it is will be to read it for yourself. John Owen has a reputation for writing in a style that is…