Aimee Byrd. Theological Fitness: Why We Need a Fighting Faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2015. 192pp. ISBN 9781596389953 $12.99 (paperback).
I have a difficult time reading, much less recommending, Christian books written by women, as they are all too often filled with sentimental emotionalism that borders on eroticism and undergirded by horrific theology. Upon reading this book, my first thought was “Thank God for Aimee Byrd!” I finally have a Christian book written by a female author that I can unreservedly recommend.
This book is something of an extended meditation on Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” In Theological Fitness she uses the idea of fitness and physical exercise as vehicle to explore what it means to be an active and theologically well-informed believer in Jesus Christ. In this work, Aimee is focused on answering one central theological query: “What is perseverance?” As she seeks to answer this question, Aimee focuses on the five constituent phrases that form Hebrews 10:23. Therefore the book is structured in five parts, each composed of two chapters focusing on the five phrases, “Let us,” “Hold fast,” “The confession of our hope,” “Without wavering,” “For he who promised is faithful.”
As I read this work, I found something worth highlighting on every page; that is the sort of interaction I usually reserve for works of high theology. But, surprising though it may seem, that’s precisely what this book is—a work of erudite and capable theological acumen. In seeking to answer the question, “What is perseverance?,” Aimee Byrd winds up answering a host of other questions as well, and delving into topics that you wouldn’t expect. In the end, she makes a very persuasive case that our ability to persevere—whether that be through a fiery trial, or through the banality of our lives, day-in and day-out—is directly related to our knowledge of what we believe. At the center of perseverance is our ability to doggedly hold on to what is true about Jesus Christ in both his person and his work on behalf of his people.
If you would obey the command to persevere in Heb. 10:23, you must hold fast to a theological statement, or confession of faith—in sum, you must be a good theologian. And Theological Fitness has this goal firmly in its sights.
This is a work full of wit and insight, and its written in extraordinarily readable prose. Difficult theological concepts are explained without recourse to dense theological language, and are well illustrated at every turn.
If you’re a minister and you’re looking for works to recommend to the female parishioners in your church as an alternative to Ann Voskamp and Sarah Young, I would not only recommend that you buy this book, but that you buy lots of copies. It’s high time we stop disrespecting the women of our congregations by providing them with books that amount to theological fluff at best and absolutely heretical twaddle at worst. Here’s a book of theology that will encourage every reader, male or female, to dig deep in God’s word and to recognize that perseverance takes hard work, and will help all of us get “theologically fit” as we grow in grace.