My God and I by Lewis B. Smedes–Book Review

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:

Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey–Book Review

Fish Out of Water by Eric Metaxas–Book Review

The Redemption of Bobby Love by Bobby and Cheryl Love–Book Review

The Opposite of Certainty by Janine Urbaniak Reid– Book Review

Janine Reid is a self-described control freak — at least until her life begins to spiral out of control. Her son, Mason, is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Although it is slow growing, he eventually needs surgery, and then months of rehab learning to talk and walk again. Even after his recovery, he continues to have problems with his short term memory. Later Janine requires cancer surgery of her own — a double mastectomy.

The Opposite of Certainty: Fear, Faith, and Life in Between by [Janine Urbaniak Reid, Anne Lamott]

These devastating health issues have an effect on the rest of the family, putting pressure on Janine’s marriage and relationships with her other two children. She slowly learns to let go of her expectation that she can be a perfect wife and mother, or that by being “good” she can guarantee the safety of her family members.

The book is well written and easy to read. Any parent will sympathize with Janine’s feelings and dilemmas. However, for me, at least, her spiritual struggles seem a bit distant. She sometimes refers to God as a “higher power” (probably because she is the child of an alcoholic) and there are few, if any references to Jesus or the Bible. She does speak about the mystery of God’s ways, and our inability to ever completely understand them — instead we must learn to accept and experience grace whenever it is offered. However, it’s more a book about navigating serious health issues than growing spiritually.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. It will resonate with anyone going through difficult health issues.

For other spiritual memoirs see these posts:

Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey–Book Review

Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken–Book Review