“Every so often,” Steve Ink writes in God So Loved, “someone utters a statement that is so brief, concise, and powerful that it flames the human imagination.” The statement the author is referring to comes from the book of John in the New Testament, Chapter 3, Verse 16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” According to Ink, this one sentence “is really a map through the message of Christianity.”
In a series of reflective exegeses, Ink seeks to reveal the good news imbued in the 26 words of the biblical passage by unpacking its meaning one word or phrase at a time. For instance, Ink explains why “For” at the start of the verse is an indication of purpose: “The term…alerts us that the reason for an action is about to be presented.” Ink uses each word as a jumping off point for ruminations on love, stewardship, appreciation of the physical world (“The creation of people is God’s masterpiece”), the power of giving, and our own brokenness.
The author is a thoughtful writer and does a fine job of distilling what can be complex theology and making it accessible to the average reader (e.g., the heady ideas of atonement and sacrifice are rendered in simple, understandable language). Although the book takes a little while to warm up (the first chapter that summarizes the story of Jesus from birth to death to resurrection feels overly long), once Ink starts drilling down into his thesis in later chapters, the book begins to take off.
God So Loved needs pruning, but overall, Ink’s solicitous examination of Christianity is sincere and thought-provoking. Church groups looking to dive a little deeper into the gospel of John will find much to discuss here.
Also available in hardcover.