Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage
Reviewed by: Donna Hausler
Date posted: 10/18/2015
Loving in God's Story of Grace, by Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage. P&R, 2014. Spiral bound, 144 pages, list price $12.99. Reviewed by Donna Hausler, OP pastor's wife.
Loving in God's Story of Grace is the third and final book in the Living Story Bible Study series by Elizabeth Reynolds Turnage, and provides a welcome addition to women's Bible study options. Within the context of God's great story of redemption, she explores the magnitude and mystery of God's love for his people. In doing so, she also calls the reader to ponder, appreciate, and imitate this covenantal, unfailing love.
The book consists of an introduction, seven chapters, and an epilogue. The introduction gives a new reader (like myself) a brief overview of the previous two books in the series (Learning God's Story of Grace and Living God's Story of Grace) and helpful advice for using the book to study God's word and prepare for group discussion. Each chapter contains five days of material to guide readers through the study of Scripture (days 1–3) and personal reflection and application (days 4–5). Using various stories from Scripture, Turnage asks us to think about our own story, and how the truths from the passage should encourage us to self-examination and then action. Bible memory and prayer reminders are also included in every chapter. The final chapter wraps up the book as well as the series, with instructions for a "Story Feast," in which the participants in a study group will share their stories with one another.
There are a couple of additional features in this Bible study that impressed me. Each chapter includes a "Theological Theme" box that clearly and succinctly summarizes such biblical themes as atonement, covenant, and reconciliation. Turnage also includes meaningful quotations from respected authors and theologians to shed light on the main topic of each chapter.
Loving in God's Story of Grace was designed to serve as a resource for small groups, but it would also be an excellent book for individual growth or one-on-one mentoring or discipleship. The author opens up to her readers with intensely personal stories from her own life, and she encourages us to do the same with one another. She wants women to allow Christ into the darkest recesses of their own history. Some of these matters may be too difficult for many women to share in a group setting. Before using this book, a Bible study leader should know whether the women in her group are prepared to get this "real" with one another. Because of the personal nature of the discussion questions, it would be helpful to establish an environment of confidentiality where women can safely share their wounds and stories with others.
I am pleased to have found a Bible study series for women that is Reformed and theologically sound.