Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big Ideas by David S. Norris

Big Ideas by Davis S. Norris

4 and if you look for it as for silver 

   and search for it as for hidden treasure, 

5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD 

   and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:4-5 NIV

Big Ideas by David S. Norris is a pivotal turning point in Oneness Pentecostal literature. Not only does he engage Biblical ideas but weaves them throughout with practical stories and hands on experience. Norris is right when he says that "God's Big Ideas take a bit of time to understand." You owe it to yourself to settle in, grab your favorite mug and read this book. 

This book is over 330 pages exploring issues and topics that are vital and reoccurring in Oneness Pentecostal life and culture. It really seeks to take Proverbs 2:4-5 to heart. Norris states that "Big Ideas are neither sound bytes nor proof text." We should look and search resisting the urge to be hurried. 

Big Ideas was dedicated to the incoming 2010 freshmen class at Gateway College. There are 25 chapters with an Introduction, Appendix, Notes and Works Cited. Each chapter is designed to take the Big Idea and put it in such a way that anyone can understand. Norris does a good job at taking Biblical, theological concepts and making them accessible and understanding to even junior high and high school ages.

Chapter titles include Discovering Big Ideas; The Big Idea of Faith; The Big Idea of Special Creation; The Big Idea of Freedom; The Big Idea of Covenant; The Big Idea in a Name; The Big Idea of Invoking God's Name; The Big Idea of Purpose; The Big Idea of Grace; The Big Idea of God's Word; The Big Idea of Truth; The Big Idea about Canon; The Big Idea of the Gospel; The Big Idea about Jesus' Identity; The Big Idea about Jesus' Purpose; Holding on to Big Ideas; The Big Idea about the Spirit of God; The Big Idea of the New Testament Covenant; The Big Idea of Justification; The Big Idea of Love; The Big Idea of Love; The Big Idea of Peace; The Big Idea of Joy; The Big Idea of Answering Tough Questions; The Big Idea of Hope; and Telling the Big Story. 

This is a book about a Big God. Norris also notes that "the reason why Cliff Notes of the Eternal do not work is because we have a Big God." (Norris, pg. xiii) Each chapter concludes with a short summary. At the end usually two Big Ideas from the chapters itself are summarized. Each chapter is full of great illustrations and examples that can help make Oneness theology practical for any pastor, a teacher or laymen. Each chapter also concludes with recommended reading from various Oneness theologians, apologists, ministers and authors. 

Since this is a review and not a spoiler I will highlight only a few chapters. Chapter three is about the idea of Special Creation. Norris reminds us that "The church and university can kiss and make up. Not Naturalism and Theism...Genesis 1 cannot be made to teach evolution--period. We may argue how long the creative days actually were, but the language of the Bible will not allow evolution to be causal for the world in which we now live." (Norris, pg. 29) Norris' point here should not be lost. Darwinian Evolution affirms that natural or random selection is the cause of the world in which we live. This view will simply not do given the apparent order and design in our Universe. Antony Flew, long-time British philosopher and atheist turned theist, affirms the inevitable : ‎"we still have to come to terms with the origin of the laws of nature. And the only viable explanation here is the divine Mind." (Flew, pg. 121)

Chapter four is about Freedom. Citing Genesis 1:26 Norris concludes that "The image and likeness of God are the same thing; this includes the ability to reflect, to choose to love; to decide. Even after the Fall, the image of God is not lost." (Norris, pg. 45) Adam and Eve did not die at the moment of their sin because, as Norris notes, "From the very beginning God had a plan to pay for disobedience....the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Norris, pg. 43)

Chapter six is about the idea of Covenant. The term is used to describe God's relationship with human persons, e.g. Abraham. Norris notes that "Covenant requires a lived experience of walking with God intentionally and passionately...we love God "in the superlative", with our thoughts, actions, and with the very core of our whole being." (Norris, pg. 57) This chapter is partly an attempt to take some of the key concepts about covenant that Norris discusses in I AM : A Oneness Pentecostal Theology. Another highly recommended work.

In Chapter nine the idea of Grace is explored. One of the big ideas of Grace is that "Grace is possible because of the work of Christ, a work that is freely given. Grace empowers any who believe to respond to God's call. It empowers those who respond to live a full and victorious life in abundant covenant relationship." (Norris, pg. 106) Chapter ten is about God's Word, the Bible. Here Norris states, God's Word is "God-breathed...it is not that God literally took control over the hand of the writer and began writing words apart from the intelligence of the individual...It is not merely concepts that are inspired, but it is the very words themselves--Scripture in its every part." (Norris, pg. 114, 115, 118)

In Chapter eleven Norris writes about the idea of Truth. He continues the dialog about God's Word and notes, "particularly since we have moved into the postmodern era, we need to stand on the truth of the Word of God and its message of salvation. While the Bible is neither simplistic nor can it be read without discernment, it provides a sure place to stand. It is the Truth--The Big Idea--that explains all other "truths" (ideas). (Norris, pg. 131) Chapter twelve is about the Canon of Scriptures. He notes that "When Peter referred to Paul and other texts as Scripture, this was authoritative. This was canon. It was part of God's sacred Word...It was not merely a matter of chance or political intrigue as to what books we have as Scripture. (Norris, pg. 141, 143)

Norris' final remarks are especially worth heeding. He notes, "It is actually possible to win a debate but lose a relationship. God doesn't merely call people into believing the right things. He calls people into relationship." (Norris, pg. 312) I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is a five star work. Click here to order yours today.


Norris, David S. Big Ideas. Copyright (c) 2010 by David S. Norris. Apostolic Teaching Resources LLC (ATR). 

Flew, Antony. There Is A God. How The World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Copyright (c) 2007 by Antony Flew. Harper Collins Publishers.

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