Bob Santos. From Glory to Glory: Finding Real Significance in an Image-Driven World. Search for Me Ministries, 2018. See here to purchase the book.
This book is a forty day devotional. Each devotion is four pages and opens with a Scripture and an insightful quotation of some Christian luminary (i.e., Spurgeon, Tozer, Augustine, Mother Theresa, Jonathan Edwards, Pascal, Beth Moore, J.I. Packer, Paul Washer, etc.). Each devotion ends with three questions, two biblical references to check out, and a brief prayer.
The book’s message is one that recurs in contemporary evangelicalism: humans are starving for personal glory and are hurt and disappointed when they do not receive it, but that desire can be filled through a relationship with a loving God. Augustine’s God-sized hole, in short.
Here are some thoughts:
A. The message may initially appear trite, but this book is still edifying. It is far from boring, for Bob Santos manages to make the message his own and to explore different dimensions of it, while sharing insights based on his own life experiences. As is characteristic of his writing, it has a weighty style. The book is like water to a thirsty soul. It empathizes with people in their longings and hurts, while recognizing that those longings and hurts can lead to disastrous directions. It also offers constructive spiritual outlooks to life, which emphasize God’s acceptance, love, and grace.
B. I have long been ambivalent about the sort of message that this book conveys. On the one hand, I definitely identify with it. Like others, I desire recognition and affirmation and find that they are difficult to obtain in this world, and I appreciate that the Bible and Christianity have distinct insights and resources that can meet or at least address those desires.
On the other hand, I have problems or questions with that message. I wonder if every human being has the luxury to be obsessing over personal glory. Many just try to get through the day, as they accept their position in life, however menial. I recall a theological critique of Reinhold Niebuhr’s stance that humans seek personal glory and dominance: it essentially said that men are like that, but women are not. That critique may be simplistic, but it does well to question whether Christianity is primarily about some universal human search for personal glory that only God can fill.
Then there is the difficulty of implementing the Christian solution to the problem. Transcending the harsh reality that is seen by remembering concepts about the unseen is challenging, and human neediness can run deep. Yes, reading the Bible and being in Christian community can help one arrive at personal healing, but these things can be double-edged swords. The Bible has its share of affirming, encouraging messages, but it also contains messages, in both the Old and the New Testaments, that can make people feel more insecure: God’s wrath, God won’t forgive those who do not forgive others, etc. Christian community has people and thus can run into the same problems that Santos identifies in human society in general: valuing people based on how impressive they are, judging people rather than empathizing with them, etc.
C. Santos seems to draw from Reformed insights, but whether he is totally in the Reformed camp is unclear. He talks about predestination, yet he also appears to think that it is consistent, in a mysterious way, with libertarian free will. In addition, one can get the impression from this book that Santos believes that God loves everyone the same amount, and yet he also implies that God likes some people (i.e., Christians in general, or Christians who do the right thing) more than others.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash. My review is honest.