Sometimes, theology and doctrine can be intimidating, but Keri Folmar has written a book that will surely engage women, yet does not skimp on solid teaching. You know for sure you're getting into something good when the author includes a Select Bibliography. I love books like that; something to get you started and keep you going.
I have used Keri's Bible study materials before, so I was very excited when I was offered a copy of her new book The Good Portion: The Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman. Keri loves the Scriptures, so I knew this was going to be good. I was not disappointed. The book, as the title suggests, introduces the reader to the doctrine of Scripture. Why do I need to know the doctrine of Scripture? Why can't I just open my Bible and read? This book will answer those questions.
We need to know what we are reading if we are going to benefit from the Bible, and there are ways to read the Bible which will help us to do just that. And Keri does not forget the most important aspect: the Bible is God's word to us. It is a personal word. She never lets us forget that this Bible is for us. This is how we know God.
She opens the books with an introduction to the Bible's importance, and then explains the nature of Scripture. She discusses its inspiration, its authority, its clarity, its necessity, and its sufficiency. I really appreciated her discussion of studying the Bible as a literary work. She talks about the genres of Scripture: historical narrative, prophecy, biblical poetry, letters, and apocalyptic literature. That was one of the most significant lessons I learned a number of years ago. Focusing on the literary genres makes us see the text for what it is rather than what we would like it to be. Further to that, she encourages us not to go into Bible study without checking our presuppositions. When we focus on the text, we are moving in the right direction.
Throughout each chapter, Keri discusses the theoretical aspect of the issue, but she never lets the reader forget the personal aspect of study. She continues to bring the matter back to a personal level so that we can see that the theoretical has practical value. Understanding the doctrine of Scripture is not for academics or pastors alone; it is for women who want to know God more deeply. Also throughout the book are reminders that emotional reactions to Scripture must be secondary to its meaning, and for women, that is especially important, because there are large numbers of books which want us to pay more attention to feeling than truth. We cannot grow in Christ unless we are willing to filter our emotions through Scripture, not the other way around.
Above all, Keri reminds us that we need Scripture. It is part of our sanctification. I love what she says:
We set our minds on the Spirit by thinking about the truths of God, and we put to death our flesh with the sword of the Spirit, 'which is the word of God' (Eph. 6:17). With the Word of God we nourish the roots of our hearts and grow the sweet fruit of the Spirit. Without God's Word those roots will shrivel and die . . .Better knowledge of Scripture leads to better knowledge of God's will and a greater desire to live it out. Greater desire to live it out leads to more dedication to the Scripture. And so on.
That last quotation makes me thinks of a spiral. Not a circle; the circle stays in one place, but a spiral keeps on going.
I plan on investing in a few copies of this book to give to interested women. Each chapter ends with discussion questions, and this book would be great to discuss with other women. With the suggestions in the bibliography, a group of women could find much to feed their growing study skills. This book was a joy to read, and it spurred me on to study more. I hope there will be other books in the series. The beginning of being equipped as women is the Scriptures, and we are fortunate to have many good resources to help us in this pursuit. There really is no excuse for not partaking of this good portion.