Hannah Anderson's new book, Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God's Image, is a welcome addition to the growing number of books on theology written for a female audience. In its 172 pages, Anderson tackles the weighty topic of what it means to be created in the image of God--what theologians refer to as imago dei. Seem like a dry, crusty, impractical book with little relevance for your life? You couldn't be more wrong. In fact, Anderson proposes that before we can accomplish the simple task of rightly understand our identity as women, we must first understand our more fundamental identity as God's image bearers.
Anderson begins by laying a foundation for her readers of what it means to be made in the image of God. This is expressed through three aspects of our identity as humans: living in dependent communion with God, living in loving relationship with others, and in exercising creative care over creation.
Of course our ability to fulfill this beautiful role was lost when Eve was deceived into believing that being made in God's image wasn't enough. Anderson artfully reflects on this tragic decision, noting how Satan perverted the blessing of being created imago dei, making it seem less desirable than it truly was:
"The tragic irony is that the serpent tempted the woman with something that was already true--made in God's image, she already was like Him! She already radiated His majesty and glory; she already existed in perfection. But it was not enough. It was not enough to have His light pulsating through her; she wanted to be the light itself."
Identity--Anderson proposes--has been a problem for humanity ever since. We continue to bear the image of God while at the same time dreadfully marring that same image with each passing breath. In our sin, we seek to define ourselves on our own terms, pursue our own desires, and build idols in our own image. What results are men and women living out lives that fall drastically short of their intended purpose and who are unable to enjoy the full blessing of being human.
This is where Anderson's focus turns to Christ as she reminds us that there is glorious hope to be found in the gospel. Through Jesus, we can once again seek to live out full and vibrant lives as God always intended. This is because in being conformed to the image of Christ in salvation, we once again find our identity in God himself, rather than in our own fateful pursuits.
The rest of Made for More (a large portion of the book) focuses on the specific ways in which we are called as Christians to reflect the image of God. Anderson skillfully explores God's character and applies his attributes to our own lives as image bearers. These remaining chapters are packed with truths that deserve to be meditated upon beyond their allotted page count. They will be an excellent springboard for those seeking to dive into an even deeper understanding of what it means to represent God's character to the world.
I particularly enjoyed chapter seven which focused on the wisdom of God. In this chapter Anderson brings up our tendency as women to focus in on passages of Scripture that speak specifically to women's issues rather than taking in the full breadth of Scripture and then applying it to our lives as women. I felt the focus of this chapter was a great reflection of the book as a whole, as it emphasizes our need to first and foremost focus our attention on God himself and allow his character to be what defines our reality:
"Too often as women, we have restricted ourselves to the "pink" parts of the Bible. When we identify first and foremost as women, we can begin to believe that knowledge of ourselves will come primarily through passages that speak to women's issues or include heroines like Ruth or Esther. But when we do this, when we craft our learning and discipleship programs around being "women," we make womanhood the central focus of our pursuit of knowledge instead of Christ.
And we forget that these pink passages were never intended to be sufficient by themselves. We forget that we can never understand what it means to be women of good works until we first learn about the goodness of a God who works on our behalf. We forget that nothing about them will make any sense if they are not first grounded in the truth that we are destined to be conformed to HIs image through Christ."
Made for More is a book that I highly recommend to all women. Hannah Anderson's writing style is beautiful and at times poetic even. The book's content is theologically rich while at the same time accessible to women who might be turned off by the more academic nature of other works written on the same topic.
Made for More is certainly a welcome departure from what is typically offered to female audiences, and I have no doubt that anyone who takes the time to explore its pages will be blessed by the jewels they find within.
You can purchase a copy of Made for More on Amazon.