Book Review

Crazy Stories, Sane God by John Alan Turner

For a couple of years, my husband and I assisted with the youth group at the church we attend. The youth pastor mentioned that he was planning to do a series called “God of the Absurd.” There series was to be focused on some of the more strange or odd stories from the Bibles. Those stories about bears mauling some teenagers or a man being killed with a tent stake drilled through his head. Often, we come across those stories and wonder what they have to do with us. Unfortunately, my husband and I missed out on this particular series, so I was excited when I came across this book and figured it would be a wonderful one to snag for a book review.

**I received a copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**


You probably know a lot of Bible stories: Joseph and his coat, David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions, Jesus walking on water. These get mentioned everywhere from popular literature to your local church.

But there are other stories in the Bible that preachers and Sunday school teachers tend to skip over because . . . well . . . because they seem crazy—the kind of stories that make us change the subject quickly when children bring them up, because we don’t know why they’re in the Bible or what they could possibly mean.

You want examples? There’s the time a prophet calls a couple of bears out of the woods to maul a gang of rowdy teenagers. There’s also a story about a woman who dresses provocatively and tricks her father-in-law into getting her pregnant. And their son ends up in the genealogy of Jesus! What are we to make of these strange, sometimes cryptic, sometimes even off-color stories? What are they doing in the Bible?

In Crazy Stories, Sane God popular author and teacher John Alan Turner takes us on a wild and unpredictable ride through the weirdest and least familiar stories in the Bible. Through it all, Turner shows us how even these odd episodes reveal important things about the character and nature of God and, consequently, what they mean for us today.

One of the first things that stood out to me about this book was how conversational it was. It was easy to understand, humorous at times, serious when needed, and also clearly shows how these strange stories in the Bible truly reveal relevant lessons for our lives today.

Each chapter of this book focuses on a particular story of the Bible. Turner starts our giving a brief summary of the story (the titles of the chapter also give the reference on where to find the story in the Bible). From there, he dives into the details of the story. If there is some cultural background that would help explain the story, he shares it. If something else needs an explanation, he offers it. Following that, the book sometimes reads like a brief sermon or devotional–talking about the what we can learn from the story and what we can apply to our own lives.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit and think it would make a wonderful tool to use alongside personal devotions. I know a few of these stories were ones that I have read in the Bible at various points and thought. “Huh? What did I just read?” Turner does an excellent job of showing how these stories are relevent and how they might not be as odd as they seem. One thing that did surprise me, was a couple of the stories he included were ones that I grew up knowing and never thought of as odd… but you know what? They are odd, and that’s okay. Because we follow a God who pushes us to be more like him, and sometimes that means unique situations.

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