3 out of 4 stars
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The Divinely Sinful Saints is an interesting title that captured my attention. It is authored by Con Trong Bui and consists of 399 pages with seven chapters. The book is full of scripture quotations.
The author begins by asking whether faith requires believing in falsity, referring especially to the stories in the Old Testament, and describes how the scriptures have different levels of spirituality and may be understood at literal, symbolic, and spiritual levels. He is against literal interpretation. In this book, Con Trong Bui focuses on the level just above the literal level. He writes to help those who are dissatisfied and feel deceived by preachers. However, spiritual masters like Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha are able to tune into these all levels simultaneously thus making their teachings suitable for all types of people.
The writer explains the concept of “body” in various contexts. According to him, “The physical body of a human being evolved from the animal kingdom and is rightly called the animal coat of skin.” He states that the physical body of Jesus (which he received from Mary) is the temple for the “body of Christ.” He sees the human body as “the physical church or temple” to differentiate it from “the spiritual church or temple” which consists of members of Christ’s body. Hence, it is important to look for the intention of the scriptural authors in writing the texts. If this is not discerned, it will seem as if the Bible is illogical and has many contradictions. The book also offers a detailed understanding of the resurrection of the body.
As a theologian, what I liked most is how Con Trong Bui describes the difference between esoteric and exoteric teachings because his insight is unique. Another theme I found interesting is that darkness signifies the unknown and is not necessarily connected with evil. His interpretation of the terms “male” and female” in the book of Genesis sounds intriguing. Nevertheless, I think the author has an insufficient background of philosophy, and his understanding of “soul” is not biblical. The meaning of terms like “third heaven” will become very clear if he refers to the philosophy of science and cosmology of the times when these books were written. He refers to the King James Version of the Bible and sometimes mentions passages from a Catholic Bible without specifying the version. Good research demands reference to texts in their original languages which he has either not done or not mentioned in this book. He should have quoted from the English translations recommended by biblical scholars in the ecumenical realm.
There are original interpretations of stories in the book of Genesis by several biblical scholars and theologians. The author of The Divinely Sinful Saints also has some original insights. His ideas are interesting and would need several weeks for reflection. They may suit people who wish to grow in their spiritual/mystical lives. The average reader may not grasp them easily. He explains simple things in very complicated terms with unnecessary repetition and examples. The writer discusses them in detail several times in the chapters and then summarizes the chapters in another 80 pages! The entire book would have been pleasant to read if it had been written in 150 pages. The font makes it increasingly difficult to read and reflect.
For all the reasons stated above, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is well edited, but I found a few grammatical errors and theologically inappropriate terms. I recommend it for those who have a biblical or theological background and wish to grow spiritually. Some of the content may be controversial and needs to be read with discernment.
The Divinely Sinful Saints
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