Book Review:

In the Likeness of God by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey

I’ve been reading this in small doses for a long time, because there’s so much depth and wisdom here. This particular edition (which I read on my Kindle) was actually a special edition combining two of Brand and Yancey’s co-authored works: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image.

Dr. Paul Brand (1914-2003) was a world-renowned hand surgeon, leprosy physician, missionary and humanitarian who caught the attention of — and became mentor to — Christian writer/apologist Philip Yancey. Their relationship in producing this book was best described by Yancey himself: “As a journalist, I gave words to his faith. In exchange, he gave faith to my words.”

I’m sure that it was especially meaningful to me because of having studied human anatomy in grad school. Others might get bogged down in the medical details, but I loved the way Brand brought the physical and spiritual worlds together as he reflected on the amazing human body and related it to the analogy, often used in the Bible, of Christ as the Head of the Body representing the Church. As Yancey reflects, this likeness “derives from their common source.”

Yancey’s respect and affection for Dr. Paul Brand was evident throughout this book: “You need only meet one saint to believe, to silence the noisy arguments of the world, and I had the inestimable privilege of spending leisurely hours getting to know a distinguished and faithful follower of Jesus. For that, Paul Brand, I thank you.”

In this book, Brand moves through the body, from skeleton to skin to heart, reflecting on one miracle of Nature after another in terms of its precision, complexity, and marvelous function. Brand finds inspiration everywhere, along with evidence of a Creator with vision beyond imagining. He finds life and spiritual lessons not only in the normal workings of the body, but also by observing what happens when parts of the body do not work as they should, either because of disease, injury, or malfunction. He was particularly fascinated with leprosy and with the profound implications of a leper’s inability to feel pain in his/her limbs.

“The fact of the body — the worth of each of its parts — is graphically revealed by a disease such as leprosy. The failure of one type of cell can bring on tragic consequences. One who studies the vast quantity of cells and their startling diversity can come away with the sense that each cell is easily expendable and of little consequence. But the same body that impresses us with specialization and diversity also affirms that each of its many members is valuable and often essential for survival. Interestingly, the worth of each member is also the aspect most often stressed in biblical imagery of the Body of Christ.”

One of the things I enjoy about reading on a Kindle is that it’s easy to underline/highlight sections and then go back to review them after I’ve finished the book. The highlighted notes alone are wonderful and inspiring as they weave the threads of Paul Brand’s faith with his celebration of the miracle of the human body. It greatly strengthened my appreciation for my own body and opened up thoughtful ways to connect the physical world around me with the spiritual world that I seek to know better.

Yancey’s wonderful rendering of his mentor’s thoughts also left me wishing more than anything that I could have known Dr. Paul Brand.

What books have YOU read that have deepened your insight or strengthened your connection with Self or God/Source. Please leave a comment below.

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