Have you ever been engrossed in a book on a subject that is completely out of your sphere of knowledge, yet you seriously could not put the book down? For example, the history of the bookshelf, the pencil, or the toothpick by Henry Petroski, or how numbers relate to life by John Allen Paulos. Books that apply the science of random topics to life fascinate me more than anything, and this is precisely what I found so intriguing in Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.
Dr. Paul Brand is a physician whose life-study has been bones; and not just any bones, but hand bones; and not just any hand bones, but the hand bones of lepers. In this book, Brand–with the literary help of Philip Yancey–weaves together the intricacies of the human body on all its levels into a tapestry depicting the very Body of Christ, His Church. He does this so expertly that I feel like a physician myself–though having had zero anatomy classes in my past–understanding how God so wisely created the human body with all of its details to represent precisely how He desires His own Body of believers to function.
While the stated desire of the Brand-Yancey writing team is “that this book will help span the chasm that for too long has separated the created world from its Source” (11), this is clearly too grandiose a goal for one simple book. Nevertheless, the chasm they do span—whether intentionally or not—is just as important, for they help clarify just what Jesus and Paul meant by describing the Church as the Body of Christ, with Jesus Himself as the Head. This illustration coined by the Creator and Designer of every intricacy that holds our physical bodies together goes far deeper and carries far more meaning that it appears on the surface. With Dr. Brand as our guide, we readers begin to understand the immeasurable truths that are hidden in that seemingly simple analogy, and it helps me to long for the day when we no longer see through a glass darkly but with all blinders gone, face-to-face with our Lord.
Covering cells, bones, skin, and motion, this book is the epitome of spiritual analogy regarding Christ’s global Church, and it ought to be required reading for every Christian nurse and physician, as well as for all seminarians and interested laypeople. Brand’s unique approach to describing the Church makes this one of the more re-readable books on my shelf. And, as with any good book on spiritual health, he manages to touch on issues so common as culture, unity, and standards that every chapter becomes (for this reader, at least) a sanctifying prayer of confession or praise.