Dave Hickman does a tremendous job at delving into deep theological waters without muddying them. Though it’s highly-theological it’s not another “barely-readable” book which doesn’t know which audience demographic to choose, academic or layman.
The subject matter usually cloudy and unclear (evidenced by the word “mysterious” often associated with it), I feel Hickman does wonders with shedding some light on this topic and making it a little less foggy.
In many Christian books the individual persons of the God-head aren’t usually equally showcased as at least one of the persons are usually marginalized (be it the Holy Spirit or God the Father). But Hickman goes to great lengths to explain specific roles of the individual persons of the Trinity instead of just using the term “God” (which can be a cop-out) or sticking to Jesus alone. Equal treatment is given to the full God-head it seems on every page. Thanks, Dave!
I’m very grateful to Hickman for his use of church history since it too often is neglected in modern evangelicalism (though church history is really our roots). Hickman notes that though union with Christ was not a dead concept throughout church history, it has been obscured in much of Christianity today. He explains that though he had been a believer for decades he still “had no idea there was anything more to the gospel than salvation by grace, forgiveness of sins, and the ability to have a personal relationship with Jesus” (Introduction, p. xxiv). “Although I had read large portions of the Bible, received two degrees in theology, and listened to countless sermons regarding the nature of salvation, I remained strangely unaware of what many colleagues (and people throughout the centuries) have celebrated as the central aspect of the entire Christian faith” (same page).
“I remained strangely unaware of what many…have celebrated as the central aspect of the entire Christian faith.”
Drawing much from church history (with references from the likes of Cyril, Luther, Calvin, and many more) as well as a wide array of more modern scholars and thinkers (*Lewis, Tozer, Manning, Packer, to name a few), he argues for the reinstatement of the lost concept of union with Christ. It’s evident that Hickman longs for this to not jut be in our theologies but in our everyday living as well, writing “I consider it to be not only the centerpiece of the gospel but also the “glue” that binds the entire story of God together in a unified way” (Introduction, p. xxiv). Though it delves into church history and scholarly opinions, this book still remains highly-readable (which is quite surprising).
Hickman writes to those who feel crushed under the weight of their relationship with God, to those who unknowingly (or knowingly) try to earn his approval. He writes of his own past, “Even though I was “saved” I felt lost. While I was a “son of God,” I felt like an orphan” (p. 9). Closer Than Close is full of raw honesty from his own deep struggles as well as natural humor.
It touches upon a wide array of topics, from the detrimental leanings of escapism and legalism,to the spiritual disciplines (praying, reading your Bible, etc.).
This book comes highly recommended by me as I do think it may change the way you view your relationship with God; it did mine!
Though much of the book’s content serves as a correction to bad theology, Hickman writes humbly and not full of cynicism; he really cares for the church rather than just caring to be correct. Do yourself a favor and get the book! If you cannot afford it, cut back on your Starbucks/fast food for a week as this book is a great investment! I will cherish it in my library for years to come.
(*C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, Brennan Manning, J.I. Packer; their first names weren’t added for better readability)
I obtained my copy of Closer Than Close (NavPress) from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest assessment.