The series title of these small, bite size theology books is very provocative: The Little Black Book Series. From this starting point, I introduce to you the author, Scott Perry, who is a youth Pastor from Australia.
This book is brief (less than 90 pages) and its intended audience is between the ages of 10-18 (in my opinion). Perry seems to reside in the Reformed camp, though he never claims a tribe nor encourages the reader to choose one.
Perry also writes through the lens of his youth pastor context. His use of humorous illustrations and nationalistic idioms provides key moments of entertainment, which is vital for the young reader. And yet he does not shy away from using theological language, but repeatedly emphasizes the comprehension of the concept is infinitely more important than memorizing the word itself.
The structure of the book is as simple as its title. Four chapters and a Q and A section (chapter 5). Again, not to overstate, but Perry keeps his answers “pretty close to his Reformed chest”. Chapter one deals with the overall concept of providence. Chapter two interacts with the reality of total inability and necessity of predestination for salvation. Chapter three tackles the classic tension of Divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Finally, chapter 4 addresses those who believe the concept of predestination to be “unfair”.
Without unpacking Perry’s theological rubric, I will say that he asserts a compatibilistic view of freedom, denies the concept of double predestination and believes people go to Hell because they choose to. Furthermore, all parents will be pleased that the author interacts with scripture alone, purposely avoiding the gridlock of philosophical argumentation.
Yes, but does the author try to answer any of the “sticky” questions? Surprisingly, he does. In the Q and A (i.e. chapter 5) Perry addresses these questions: How does God relate to evil?, Why do I need to pray and evangelize? and Does predestination have any value practically to the Christian? Here again, the Aussie young leader does a magnificent job of answering with both brevity and clarity.
The only area that left me unsatisfied was Perry’s interaction with the problem of evil. His explanation of God’s use of natural disaster to judge evil sounded slightly “Pat Robertsonian” to me and that is NOT a caricature any author wants to be connected to.
Overall, I have the highest praise of this “little black book” of theology. Every youth pastor should make this a mandatory junior high graduation gift or at least integrate this into their small group curriculum. I place this besides Rebels Rescued (written by Brian H. Cosby) as the best two books written for the Youth and Theology genre, which in my opinion is finally becoming relevant again.