Ally’s #37: The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross

In preparation for teaching this upcoming semester through PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) on Fort Riley, I was asked to read this book. Pretty much from the start, it wasn’t my favorite. Part of it was my problem, and part of it was the author.

The goal and purpose of this book is to give a broad overview of the entire Bible and squeeze it into 275 pages. Not an easy task. It took me several chapters to force myself into a readjusted perspective that this tool could be helpful in reaching cultures wholly unfamiliar with Christ, Christianity, and the Bible. I could see portions of it being helpful in explaining certain concepts to new believers, but I would do so with caution, always emphasizing that what is in this book is simplified, and that the real meat and substance is found in Scripture.

I also found myself irritated with the author’s oversimplification of certain Bible characters or historical events. He also threw in random tidbits that I thought detracted from the goal and focus of the book. For example, in a chapter that deals with atonement, Noah, and Babel, he writes:

At least part of Heaven will be occupied by a large city. It has been calculated that if only 25% of the city was used, 20 billion people could be accommodated with plenty of room to spare. This city is called the New Jerusalem.

Say what?! Of course, there were no footnotes, so there was nothing I could refer back to to see what these “calculations” were based on. After this point, I struggled not to shut down mentally and just criticize the rest of the book.

The one chapter I made it through without putting question marks in the margins was the chapter on the Tabernacle, the unbelief of the Israelites, and the period of Judges, Kings, and Prophets. The latter portion was the most helpful, and is something that I will refer back to when my chronological Bible class gets to the portions of Scripture that deal with this time period. I also love the 2-paged family tree at the end of this chapter, that traces Jesus’ lineage all the way from Adam and Eve. It highlights important historical events, like the splitting of the Northern and Southern kingdoms, the prophets, the kings, and various empires. It would almost be worth it to buy this book just for this map, but I’m still glad I got it for free.

The final two chapters are a serious plea to the reader to place his/her faith in Christ. Chapter fourteen begins with a recap of the entire book, and chapter fifteen outlines the believers responsibilities, obstacles to faith, and resources for building one’s relationship with God.

Again, not my fave, but that certainly doesn’t mean God can’t use it for His glory.

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