Last June I picked up a copy of Perfectly Imperfect: Character Sketches From The Old Testament in the bookstore in the exhibit hall during the quadrennial General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene. I finished reading it last weekend, not having started reading until the last week in September. Dr. Busic’s point, that God uses imperfect people, is well made in the book. In each of 13 chapters he focuses on people and how they formed part of God’s plan, despite having flaws.
On the bookstand, it looked attractive to me as a possible Life Group study series. The author, David A. Busic, is a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. While I had the book tucked under my arm and was still browsing the bookstore, my pastor walked up to me, and we began talking. He asked what I was buying. I showed him, and said I was buying it in hopes it could form the basis for a Life Group lesson series. He said he’d read it, and it would make a great Life Group book. In fact, he said, he had used it for some sermons, and as I read it I might recognize some things he’d said in sermons. On that recommendation, I bought the book.
So now, having read it, two questions come to mind: How do I rate it? And will I use it for a Life Group series?
I have a hard time rating this. Busic gave me reasons for lowering my review, and some for raising my review. Here are some specifics.
- Forward and Preface are present, and a little long. Lose 1 star. Dr Busic is well enough known that no Forward is necessary, and it’s presence is distracting. As for the Preface, it was more Acknowledgements than Preface, and was also distracting.
- Conversational style of writing. Lose 1 star. Now down to 3 stars. Maybe some people like that conversational style, but not me so much. I believe the book was written for Gen Xers and Millenials, not a crotchety, aging Baby Boomer. That’s okay. All books can’t appeal to all people.
- The treatment of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Lose 1 start (down to 2 now). This a passage I’ve studied and studied, taught in Life Group more than once, and heard sermons on about every two years. I disagree with some of his interpretation. Sorry, Doctor Busic, but that’s how it is. Explaining exactly what would take more words than this review should be.
- The chapter on Elijah and things I believe were left out. Lose 1 star (in oh, down to just 1 now). Again, this is a passage I’ve studied much, taught on, head in sermons much, and pondered. I was disappointed at things I believe Dr. Busic left out. Saying what would take a lot of time and too many words.
- His denigration of my home state, Rhode Island. Lose 1 star (Amazon won’t let you rate a book 0 stars). Yes, in Chapter 13, pgs 174 and 176, he talks derisively about Rhode Island, using it to represent weakness. I guess he knows there aren’t many Nazarenes in Rhode Island, so he figured he wouldn’t have many Little Rhody readers. Well, he got this one, and he loses a star as a result. Actually, Busic uses RI in a playful manner, not a denigrating manner. Still, as a Rhode Islander (I may have left the state 43 years ago, but I’m still a Rhode Islander), I have no choice to deduct a star. And, I’m being a bit playful myself with this comment.
- Incorrect use of the logical concept “Beg the Question” on page 105. Lose 1 star. C’mon, Doc. You don’t know what “beg the question” means? It doesn’t mean “demand the question be answered,” or “bring the question to the table for consideration”, which is how you use it. It means to avoid answering the question. Common usage by ignorant people is resulting in a cheapening of this important logical concept, and you just jumped on the bandwagon. Shame, shame.
- Excellent treatment of Esau, Isaac, and Stewgate. Add 1 star. Yes, Chapter 4 is well written, informative, illuminating. Good work.
- Excellent treatment of Nehemiah and the wall building project in Jerusalem. Add 1 star (back up to 1 star in aggregate). He brought out some things I’d never considered, and has spurred me on to study the passage more.
- Good discussion on Nabal, Abigail, and David in chapter 10. Add 1 star (back up to 2 now). I won’t say “excellent”, because I believe some concepts are left out, concepts another Bible teacher has focused on that I agree with. I think the chapter would have been stronger with a couple of paragraphs added on these things, but the chapter is good as is. While I could say that this only adds half a star, I could also say that the star I took away concerning the sacrifice of Isaac also should have been just half a star—so it washes out.
- Moses and the glory of God in Chapter 6. Add 1 star (up to three). We did a comprehensive study on Moses in Life Group a few years back, and it is still much on my mind. Dr. Busic covered this well. I enjoyed this chapter, perhaps best of all in the book.
As to such things as length of chapters, length of book overall, layout and design, ease of read, etc, the book gains another half star. So, I rate it 3.5 stars out of 5. Since Amazon and Goodreads won’t allow half stars, when I post the review there it will be a 3-star review.
This book will remain in my library, though how much I’ll re-read it in the future is a question. After reading the book, I felt that turning into Life Group lessons will be harder than I expected. Still, I’ll do the lessons, and will keep the book, for now.