Posted by: alisonwalley | 9 August 2009

Encounter with God: A Review

This is the third in a mini-series reviewing adult Bible reading notes from Scripture Union.(1) Of course, SU isn’t the only organisation producing such notes, and I hope to review others in subsequent blogs. Encounter with God is also available in electronic format (pdf) to read on a computer (presumably a laptop or pda as the SU website suggests since you’d be more likely to be reading the electronic version on the move).

encounterEncounter with God is the same size as Daily Bread (A5). It uses colour only on the cover. A quick glance at the layout gives the impression of a more formal, perhaps more ‘serious’ (I know that’s very subjective!) approach. This is highlighted for me by the use of footnotes for both Bible references and sometimes for books that are quoted.

As with other SU notes, Encounter with God prints the ‘SU method’ at the beginning of the notes. (It’s presented slightly differently from that printed in Daily Bread, but it’s the same.) Each day’s notes starts with a very short reflection. The Bible passage is printed in bold out into the margin, so it’s easily visible, then a few paragraphs of comments, followed by a prayer or questions.

If you follow the main readings you will get through the whole Bible in six years, and like other SU notes, you will read from different parts of the Bible over a three-month period, taking about two weeks on each section. Each section has a one-page introduction, and, helpfully a ‘Taking it Further’ at the end, with key themes for study, some thoughts for reflection and discussion, and a paragraph for specific application with some hard-hitting questions.

Extras include a number of different kinds of articles. I quote from the website as I can’t say this any better than it can:

  • Worldview highlights and tackles big, thorny issues in the world today and suggests or explores appropriate biblical thinking and action in response.
  • People of Prayer focuses on the writing and thoughts of particular figures or ‘schools of prayer’ from the Christian past and explores how their insights can help and enhance our own life of prayer.
  • In Depth features short profiles of key figures from history or today’s church mentioned in daily comments, explaining their significance, and their impact on Christian thought.

SU says of these notes: “Encounter with God is designed for thinking Christians who want to interpret and apply the Bible in a way that is relevant to the problems and issues of today’s world.” I don’t suppose they mean by that to imply that the other Bible reading notes are for non-thinking Christians! I hope anyone reading the Bible regularly is using their brain as well.

However, I think it’s partly a matter of temperament, and partly a matter of Christian maturity that some of us need to have notes which are more directed to the head – as long as it then moves to our hearts. I would recommend these notes to people who have been Christians for a while and want something to challenge them a bit more. And for those who want some thought-provoking articles to give them something more to think about and mediate on to help them grow in their faith.

(1) You can find reviews of Daily Bread and Closer to God at these links.

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