NOT BY SIGHT:
A FRESH LOOK AT OLD STORIES OF WALKING BY FAITH
By: Jon Bloom
Publisher: Crossway (April, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1433535939 ISBN-13: 978-1433535932
“Through the imaginative retelling of 35 Bible stories, Not by Sight gives us glimpses of what it means to walk by faith, counsel for how to trust God’s promises more than our perceptions …”
So the publisher summarizes the structure and purpose of this book. It is a straightforward book, clearly written and easy to read, but its accessibility should not obscure its worthwhile nature. In its 35 short chapters the author gives us a selection of biblical vignettes – retelling stories from the New Testament (and three from the Old) that are all connected by the common theme of faith.
Bloom starts with the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee – but from the perspective of the disciple James who, according to this telling, learns a vital lesson in perspective. And so the author continues, carefully reweaving the narrative of each story only enough to show what impact the events must have had on those involved. The skillful story-telling puts us within the minds of the people who were present in the various events and we see the lessons they may well have learned. Some of the stories are whimsical, some are poignant, but they all have a point.
Certainly Bloom goes beyond the biblical narratives in utilizing this approach, speculating for example on what Pilate must have thought when he heard the news that the man he had condemned, who had claimed to be the Son of God, was alive again. Yet these “what the person thought at the time” viewpoints are not offered as additional truth to scripture – just as “what ifs” that help us rethink these events and to see more in them ourselves.
Unlike the faith heroes of Hebrews 11, most of the examples in this book are taken from among those mentioned in the New Testament, though Bloom does look at Joseph, David and Jehoshaphat in the Hebrew scriptures in order to convey three important lessons of faith from the lives of those individuals. In every case faith is the focus of the vignettes presented in the book; in every case the reader is challenged to see more of what can be seen in the biblical stories – even if only by relating more to the individuals concerned, and by identifying with their experiences – and in this way to learn from them.
Because of its straightforward and highly accessible style, the book is suitable for all readers from teenage onward, and it is a book which should profit everyone who opens it. You may not take away new understandings of the scripture from Not by Faith, but if you read it you will doubtless gain insights and inspiration you might never otherwise have had.