Sydney: Morning Star Publishing, 2019
Benjamin Swift is a Presbyterian freelance writer from Brisbane, who has written a short but wide-ranging book on seeking a deeper knowledge of God and ourselves. Sometimes the writing style is a little self-conscious, and one might be advised not to cite Karl Barth and Martin Luther King without due caveats. Also, he says a verse is from Luke’s Gospel when it is also in Matthew and Mark, and then does not give the exact reference. Furthermore, Konrad Lorenz’s imprinting theory – where goslings hatched under their mother followed normal goose behaviour while those hatched in an incubator followed Lorenz – has always aroused my suspicions, but that may owe more to my ignorance rather than discernment.
Nevertheless, the book is an impressive attempt to work across a number of disciplines in order to present a coherent case for the God of the Bible. Swift is not afraid to tackle the big guns. For example, Richard Dawkins objects: ‘What kind of ethical philosophy is it that condemns every child, even before it is born, to inherit the sin of a remote ancestor [Adam]?’ Dawkins’ bluster fails to impress.
When Stephen Hawking cited ‘While there’s life, there is hope’ as something of a vague caution against euthanasia, Swift answers with considerable potency: ‘Hope in what?’ In dealing with faith and reason, Swift is clear, realistic and cogent. We all have to climb Mount Stupid first! To cite Luther: ‘the Power of Scripture is this: it will not be altered by the one who studies it; instead it transforms the one who loves it.’ Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that serving the self is the ultimate goal in life, but Christ spoke of dying to self. All of these issues, and more, are dealt with in 90 pages.