Seeing God

This should be on your reading list for this year.

Hans Boersma’s Seeing God is one of the most important – if not the most important – books I’ve read over the past ten years. This is not an easy read, since it is a study in historical theology for an academic audience, but it is well worth the time and attention it will take to appreciate the message of this very fine book.

Boersma’s subject is the beatific vision – the destination of the Christian life, seeing Jesus as He is and becoming like Him. Boersma traces the writings of theologians and poets from the early Church to the 20th century as he brings to light the teachings of many of the greatest thinkers of Christian history on the subject of seeing God. Boersma treats writers from all the major communions of the faith – Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. His careful reading and clear explanations of texts is both demanding and exciting, as he traces the development of Christian thinking about the beatific vision, shows its importance for the life of faith, and brings together the teaching of great thinkers from Gregory of Nyssa to Augustine, Palamas, Nicholas of Cusa, Aquinas, Calvin, the Puritans, Kuyper, and Edwards.

The final chapter synthesizes from all those studied – including the poets Dante and Donne – to argue for the central importance of the beatific vision of Christ, exalted in glory, as the guiding thread and driving force of the divine pedagogy. We live toward the end of seeing Jesus as He is, and we are able to glimpse that vision increasingly throughout the course of our earthly sojourn, from the revelation of God both in Scripture and in the works of creation. This should be the focus of all our lives and ministries.

This is a book I will read over and again, to help me keep focused on the goal of setting the Lord always before me, fixing my mind on the things that are above, where Christ is seated in the heavenly places, and seeing Him increasingly in His glory, that I might be made more like Him.

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