Lewis Smedes (1921-2002) was a professor of theology and ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary for many years. In this spiritual memoir, written in his 80’s, he looks back at his life with God. At one point he writes:
“It has been ‘God and I’ the whole way…. Not so much because he has always been pleasant company. Not because I could always feel his presence when I got up on the morning, or when I was afraid to sleep at night. It was because he did not trust me to travel alone.”
Smedes is very honest about his own doubts, struggles and difficulties and I believe we can always learn from the faith walk of others. However, I found some problems with this book.
1. While it is easy enough to read, his explanation of some theological concepts is incomplete. For example, he quotes Athanasius (a great defender of orthodoxy) as writing that Jesus had to be God in order to make us gods. I found that shocking until my husband explained that the word which can be translated as “deification” is what we today would call “sanctification.” Athanasius didn’t mean we would become gods, he meant we would make progress in being like God.
2. Although he was a Reformed pastor, some of his views about Reformed theology –for example, the doctrine of election, are not orthodox.
3. He seems to equate a belief in the inerrancy of Scripture with literalism, and this is not the position of most inerrantists.
VERDICT: i would not recommend this book unless you are studying the life of Lewis Smedes. His take of a variety of theological issues is off-base— neither Lutheran nor Reformed.
For more spiritual autobiographies see these posts: