Book Review: The Good Portion Series, edited by Keri Folmar
“What books would you recommend for women to read together?”
I get this question a lot.
Selecting a book to read with other women can be challenging. Do you aim for something practical or something theological? Something easy to read in the busy seasons of life or something that requires a little rigorous study? Whatever your preference, the need is the same. We need sound doctrine. I always counsel women, if you’re willing to meet with others in hopes of growing in your love for God, his word, and his people, find a hearty “meat-of-the-word” kind-of book.
Doctrine informs every area of life, whether it’s dealing with road rage, resisting the urge to people-please, examining why I’m mindlessly scrolling on my phone for the fifth time in the same hour, learning to love my husband, or reading that children’s book for the fifteenth time. In every circumstance what I believe about God is always coming into play.
Whole-hearted devotion to the Lord requires a steady diet of the whole word of God. Healthy, life-giving doctrine, received with joy, roots deeply in the soil of the believer’s heart and, fueled by the Holy Spirit, produces fruit to God’s glory!
To my delight, a new series of books by women and for women focuses on delivering healthy, life-giving doctrine with the aim of producing fruit among women in local church life. As one of the authors, Natalie Brand, writes, this series of books is “for women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.” Written by women ministering in different parts of the world, the Good Portion series shows women that “digging deep into God’s word can be strenuous work. But it’s more rewarding than we can ever imagine.” (Natalie Brand, The Doctrine of Salvation for Every Woman, 20).
SURVEYING THE SERIES
The Good Portion series focuses on equipping women theologically. Keri Folmar’s book on Scripture lays a strong foundation for how to read and understand the Bible, explaining its divine inspiration, trustworthiness, authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency. She shows us the gold mine that is God’s word and arms us with the tools to dig deeper.
While reading Rebecca Stark’s volume, The Doctrine of God for Every Woman, I had to pause and worship after reading her section on God’s aseity. She writes, “Aseity comes from the Latin a se, which means ‘from or by oneself.’ To say God is a se, means He exists from Himself. Nothing caused Him to exist, but He exists uncaused” (65).
His love is a se love. It is not drawn from Him by anything within the object of His love (Deut. 7:7–8). He doesn’t love us because of our attractive qualities—and this is good news for us. . . . In fact, if you are a believer, from His a se love, God rescued you while you were His enemy (Rom. 5:10). He loves you because of who He is and not because of who you are. He loves you simply because from Himself, He loves. (66)
Jenny Manley’s book, The Doctrine of Christ for Every Woman, insightfully walks us through the person and work of Christ. She answers that eternally significant question, “Who is Jesus?” by showing us how Christ fulfills God’s promises, acts as our substitute, unites us to himself, and reconciles us to God. Commenting on union with Christ, she writes, “At conversion we are not just saved from hell, or even merely made right with God, but we are united to our Savior in an inseparable manner. . . . This doctrine is foundational to both our salvation and our sanctification, and it is essential to the deepest joys we will know in this life and the next” (209).
Finally, Natalie Brand’s comforting work, Salvation, looks at salvation accomplished and applied. She examines the doctrines of election, the conquering of sin and death, the resurrection, regeneration, faith, justification, adoption, and more! Of faith, she writes, “When we appreciate our need for God to give us faith, we can understand fully the gospel; it is all of God. Salvation comes from the Lord truly and there is nothing of us in it. We bring nothing but our nothing, and God lavishes grace on us” (129).
SOUND THEOLOGICAL DISCIPLING FOR WOMEN
I would encourage women to read these books alongside their own personal study of Scripture or, even better, with other women. Whether you read just one or the whole series, each book is saturated with Scripture, helpful illustrations, rich theology, and questions for reflection. Some themes will overlap between all four books, but each offers a thorough and distinct meditation on a particular area of doctrine. These are useful resources for promoting meaningful conversation around the word.
Pastors should also know that this series is a wonderful discipling resource for the women in your church. Buy up several copies and start handing them out.
These books offer us a chance to worship the Triune God and better serve his blood-bought people. I hope these books serve as a guide for women who have heard the call to “teach what is good” to one another (Titus 2:3) and commend the truthfulness and beauty of God’s word to the world with our very lives (Titus 2:5).
Sound doctrine, by nature, is highly practical. The Good Portion series provides knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. (Titus 1:1)