Four New Books on Human and Christian Identity

Four New Books on Human and Christian Identity September 25, 2018

I’m steadily reading some books on identity and theology and two recent one’s are worth noting.

First, Brian S. Rosner, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity (Biblical Theology for Life; ed. Jonathan Lunde; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017). I’m probably a tad biased towards this book since Brian is, well, my boss. However, this is a great biblical and theological account of Christian identity. Brian takes inspiration from 1 Cor 8:3, “But whoever loves God is known by God” and Gal 4:9, “But now that you know God–or rather are known by God.” He argues that being known by God meets our need to be recognized and acknowledged, and our identity is sustained by God’s constant love for his children. Rosner unpacks the meaning of Christian identity under the rubrics of belonging to God, chosen by God, child of God, known by Christ, remembered by God, your name known to God, your name written in heaven, your name written in the book of life, your life hidden with Christ in God, and union with Christ. It is peppered with biblical citations and quotes from N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, and Marilyn Robinson in the margins. This is my #1 recommendation for anyone wanting a primer on all things pertaining to identity.

Second, Klyne Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are: A Christian Understanding of Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018).

This book argues that identity is both God-given (God tell us who we are), but also something appropriated and structured (based around certain nodes like body, memory, and actions etc.). Snodgrass goes through the nine factors affecting identity: body, personal history, relationships, commitments, actions, boundaries, process of change, future, and internal self-interpretation. I like Snodgrass’s point that “The Gospel is about identity, not going to heaven, and is way more than believing certain ideas, as important as the ideas may be. Who is the gospel trying to make you?”

Third, J. Brian Tucker and John Koessler, Altogether Different: Upholding the Church’s Unity While Honoring Our Individual Identities (Chicago: Moody, 2018). I liked this book and this is what I blurbed about it: In a fragmented world confused by various identities, Brian Tucker and John Koessler provide a great introduction to the meaning of identity, race, gender, and community, and what they mean from a Christian perspective. This is a great volume on how faith shapes our identity as followers of Jesus. A much-needed book in an age of identity politics.


Jenny McGill (ed), The Self-Examined: Christian Perspectives on Human Identity (Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press, 2018). This is a multidisciplinary exploration of the relationship between faith and human identity, specifically, Christian identity. The authors address complex and difficult topics relating to identity and socio-political flash-points such as migration, ethnicity, embodiment, attachment, and gender. The opening essay by McGill is worth the price of the book!


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