Editor’s Note: We have begun a series called The Preacher’s Bookshelf, in which we interview authors of books that might be of interest to pastors and preachers. In this installment, we interview Michael Card whose new book, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement is currently featured at the Patheos Book Club.
Michael Card is an award-winning musician, writer, and performing artist who is perhaps best known and most appreciated for the meticulous biblical study that supports the themes and lyrics of his creative compositions. To date Card has released twenty recordings, achieving nineteen “number one” songs on Christian radio charts and earning five Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association.
In addition to composing songs like “El Shaddai” and “Immanuel,” Card has also written or cowritten fourteen books. He was nominated for both the C. S. Lewis Children’s Book Award and the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award for Sleep Sound in Jesus. Another of his books, A Violent Grace, was nominated for the ECPA’s Gold Medallion Award in 2001. His latest book Luke: The Gospel of Amazement is the first in his new Biblical Imagination Series.
What’s the basic hunch of the book – its most essential claim – and why is it important?
Its most essential claim is that if you listen to the Scriptures in a concerted way, heart and mind integrated by an informed imagination, you will be recaptured by the Book.
What can pastors learn from this book for their own spiritual lives?
Pastors can learn to stop and ask what the facts mean. Too often we approach the text theologically, focusing on the facts. Or we approach devotionally and make the facts somewhat secondary. The biblical imagination’s approach is to take those hard won facts and by asking what they truly mean, engaging both the mind and the heart.
Can this book be preached? What might a sermon or sermon series based on the book look like?
I would like to think that each section could be a sermon, or at least the spark of a sermon. It would be a helpful tool for someone exegetically working through the entire book of Luke.
Are there any particular anecdotes or stories (whether or not they are told in the book) that crystallize its message?
I have a good friend with a first-rate theological education. He knows more facts about the Bible than I ever hope to know. As we worked through this material together in the context of a Wednesday night Bible study, he would frequently weep whenever we would stop and engage with the text based on some fact he already knew. For example, together we knew the fact that Luke was a doctor, but when we stopped and asked, “But what does that mean? What would we expect from a doctor?” the fresh insights that would flow out of those kinds of questions would engage his heart as well as his mind. This sort of integration happens when the imagination, that bridge between the heart and the mind, is crossed.
What did God do to you in the process of writing this book? How did God use it in your own spiritual life?
The biggest thing for me was how this approach was constantly validated in terms of offering fresh ideas about the text. I began the writing process hoping it was true and valid and helpful. Then, time after time, I would see things in Luke I had never seen before. This deeply impacted my walk. I am currently working through Mark’s Gospel and the same sort of thing is constantly happening.
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more resources – including a book excerpt – from Luke: The Gospel of Amazement.