Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: The Lonely Man of Faith

Oh me of little faith ... I was mildly embarrassed to be checking this book out (never mind that I had no idea who the person at the desk even was!) because it was kind of like saying "I'm lonely." When in a way that's exactly what the author, Joseph Soloveitchik, intended. He writes about the two different creation stories in Genesis, how they describe the creation of two different Adams: the first Adam and the second Adam, both of which are contained in each of us. Deftly moving from the Scripture through philosophy and history and back again, with a tantalizing smidgen of science thrown in, Soloveitchik makes the case that we are too focused on the first, "majestic" Adam and have neglected the important role of the second, "convenantal" Adam. He's right, to the point that a certain person can have a pang of shame at even checking out a book with "lonely" in the title.

Soloveitchik does not argue that the first Adam should be ignored or done away with, any more than he would argue that the first account of creation in Genesis should be done away with. Rather, he argues that there is a movement (a dialectical one) between the two Adams in each of our lives. As someone who works in science, you could say that I very easily lose sight of the second Adam and focus on the first. My own Weter lecture was primarily about the first Adam, in fact.

Reading this book reminded me more than anything of stepping into the world of Chaim Potok's communities, and it proved as spiritually refreshing. As a Christian, I see Christ as the second Adam personified, humble and completely God's, and lonely, then, after the ordeal of ordeals, raised to newness of life as the first Adam. I see the seeds of most everything I believe in the vibrant words of this book and its own faithfulness to the words of Genesis and the prophets. Highly recommended.

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