‘What is man that you are mindful of him?’ wrote the psalmist (Psalm 8:4, ESV). This probing question has engaged the minds of truth-seekers throughout the ages. The philosophers that are widely esteemed in the Western world have limited themselves to David’s first three words, only to find that human reason does not get us very far.
Owen Strachan’s book explains why human identity is the major issue of our time, and that God has to lead our thoughts. ‘Does the human person live in an ordered cosmos and have an appointed identity, or does he make his own identity in a world without God?’ (p.3). According to Strachan, we simply cannot understand humanity apart from God.
In nine invigorating chapters, different dimensions of human life are examined biblically and theologically. Ultimately, there is an urgent need for every member of the human race to be clear about who we are and what is our place in the universe. The net effect of the wisdom of the world is to disenchant humanity. This leaves us as evolved apes wallowing in a slough of relativism and purposelessness.
Strachan’s objective is to reenchant humanity and to equip present and future pastors, teachers, and leaders to inspire others to discipleship, leading to full and meaningful lives before God. To develop our understanding, we must recognise that humans are created in the image of God, providing ‘living displays of the intelligence and excellence and multifaceted capability of God’ (p.32). Add to this a clear grasp of what happened when our first parents disobeyed God: sin changed everything. This is the tragedy of mankind.
Building on these foundational truths, Strachan goes on to show how diverse aspects of human existence can be reenchanted. The chapters address work, sexuality, race and ethnicity, technology, justice, our contingency, and union with Christ. In all these dimensions of life, our challenge is to develop Christian responses that demonstrate the enchantment of abiding in Christ.
The writing is a warm-hearted and gracious theology addressing anthropology. Guidance is given to church leaders as they seek to be culturally relevant. If it were to be expanded, young people in schools and universities have specific needs related to their study disciplines. How will they handle assumptions in textbooks that conflict with biblical truth? In many cases, young people are not equipped to recognise the disenchanting wisdom of the world. And if church leaders do not think this is important enough to address, the next generation may find it difficult to meet the challenges that are thrown at them.