Book Review: God Dwells Among Us by G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim
Editor's Note: This review is part of the 2015 IVP Week and New Year's IVP book Giveway
Publisher: IVP Books
Reading Level: Moderate
The term “biblical theology” can be intimidating. So referring to God Dwells Among Us as a “biblical theology” may turn away the very laymen for whom it was written. Nevertheless, this fine little work on the temple, God’s dwelling presence, and missions is a biblical theology and it is perfectly distilled for laymen. Presented in short chapters with clearly expressed and explicated talking points, G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim present one of the deepest and most encompassing theological books intended for laymen.
God Dwells Among Us has at its roots Beale’s scholastic work The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (IVP Academic 2004). This work fueled a refined sermon series by Mitchell Kim that he than turned into a conference presentation. These written materials became the working text of the book and were finalized with details from Beale’s original work. The concerns of God Dwells Among Us are practical. Its language is straightforward. Its theological expression and biblical exposition are thoughtful laid out for individuals to wrap their minds around new concepts. There is even a whole chapter dedicated to explaining the “Why Haven’t I Seen This Before” that many laymen will ask (chapter 10).
Crucial to God Dwells Among Us is the cosmology (the science of the origin and development of the universe) of the Biblical writers (148). Under the conviction that “the cosmos is created as a dwelling place” (148) Genesis 1-2 must be read as depicting “Eden as a dwelling place of God” (18-19). The thesis that Eden is a temple (chapter 1) is the basis of every proceeding chapter and reaches its climax in “Eden’s Ministry: Serving as Priests in the New Temple” (chapter 9). Along the way there are great connections made between the temple, missions, and Biblical history. “Worship as the Goal of Missions: Multiplying Images” (34-37) is a uniquely written section showing how Eden should inform the mission of the church (a practical theme returned to in concluding chapters). The parallels between Mt Sinai and David demonstrate the consistent presentation of Biblical history about God’s plan for creation, temple imagery, and missions (46-49).
As is to be assumed, the overwhelming theme of temple expansion may not fit every Biblical text seamlessly. Some will disagree with the perspective on the pre-exilic and exilic prophets’ temple predictions. More specifically though, Beale’s popular idealist interpretation of Revelation will leave futurists and preterists with exegetical questions about Revelation 11 (122-128) and Revelation 21-22 (135-141).
In conclusion, God Dwells Among Us is one of the best laymen oriented biblical theologies available (James Hamilton’s What is Biblical Theology? being the only true competition). Seminary students as well as studious laymen and pastors will find the book refreshing despite containing familiar material. Perfect for a weekly Bible study or Sunday School class, God Dwells Among Us should enjoy widespread reading.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising