Identity is the issue we need to deal with today. The way our society is talking about identity is raising questions and Christians have answers, or at least we should. The problem is that Christians often are as confused about our identity as everyone else. Along comes Brian Rosner (principal of Ridley College in Melbourne) and his book Known by God: a Biblical Theology of Personal Identity.
Rosner’s thesis is that the basis of our identity and who we are as human beings is that we are known by God (see Galatians 4:9). Our own knowledge of God is based on the fact that we ourselves are known first and more completely by God.
What I liked
This approach is both refreshing and, as Rosner argues, more Biblical than other approaches. Though he does not actually spend any time interacting with other approaches. My experience and as Rosner alludes to, is that many other approaches begin with the idea of the image of God before looking at other ideas.
What I like about the book is that it has a balanced writing style. On one hand, the book is carefully written and is well researched but on the other hand, it is very personal and revealing. Rosner begins the book with the crisis of identity he had when his wife left him. This makes the book both stimulating and readable. At times there are extended Biblical surveys, such as the idea of having one’s name written as a key idea.
I know it is not a big thing, but the format of the book has been clearly thought about too. Quotes that are given in passing are given with more context in the sidebar. It also allows for the reader to add notes.
What is missing?
What I was hoping was for was how did this idea that the foundation of identity affect the other ways we relate? The book emphasizes our individual identity and skates over the effect on other relationships in the last chapter. Though even in this last chapter it doesn’t spend any time examining how my identity as being known by God should be lived out in a culture that does not know or want to know God.
This is one of the most stimulating books I have read this year. Despite what it is missing it is still worth a read, especially since identity is the key idea we need to engage with right now.