Reforesting Faith

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

A thorough look at trees, literal and figurative, in scripture. The author's testimony is given throughout as well. Many lessons to be learned from our reflection on trees.
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I am a passionate lover of trees and, even more so, of God. Upon reading the back cover copy, I thought this book would be the culmination of those two loves. Sadly, I was disappointed in the theology. It feels to me like a case of eisegesis. Tree facts have been surrounded by scripture, the thread of the Bible rewoven with trees at it’s centre and, for me, in that process, God has lost His sovereignty and supremacy. I wholeheartedly support planting and saving trees but feel the author would have been better writing a book focusing on that cause rather than entwining the Bible and trees.
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I was delightfully surprised at how much this book captured my imagination and showed me a side of the Bible that I have never considered. As a botanist and environmental scientist, I am thoroughly in support of trees, nature, and the environment already. I picked up this book with some faint curiosity about what the author might have to say about trees, environmental stewardship, and the Bible. My environmentalism is often viewed as something extra-Biblical in my conservative community. When I started reading, I was fascinated by the connections the author was drawing between trees in the Bible, Jesus, and faith. He also revealed many Hebrew and Greek words and names meaning"tree" that I never recognized and explained cultural information about certain tree species that lends meaning and depths to passages. I felt like this book was exactly what I needed to articulate my own deep and abiding personal faith in environmental stewardship and its source in my faith in Jesus. And, honestly, I feel so vindicated! I want to share everything I learned with my church and spread the "tree-hugging" Biblical commands to the whole world.
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I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this one. My family is an outdoorsy family and I have a heart for trees and reforesting efforts. I was skeptical that an entire book could be written connecting trees to God without sounding repetitive and preachy. This book defied my expectations. What a fantastic job Matthew Sleeth did with this one. I live in the Seattle area surrounded by trees. Thanks to this book, I see them differently now. I grew in my faith, my appreciation of nature, and my Bible knowledge. This book taught me so much about an aspect of the world that I love but never thought to study in the Bible. I had no idea so many references to trees existed in the Word. I was given the chance to read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book to share my honest feedback. This book has had a profound impact on me. My family homeschools with a focus on nature and faith, I will be incorporating this into our school studies as a way to tie the two together. This would obviously be a great read for nature lovers. I’d also encourage those who would rather ignore the great outdoors to check this one out- you’ll learn a lot and may understand more about why we love nature so much.
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I was familiar with the work of Mathew Sleeth and his wife Nancy, as Christians in ministry.  I was intrigued to read this book because I enjoy learning more about the Bible and as a nutritionist, am interested in learning more about biology.  Sleeth's education and experience as a physician lends a lot to this book.  The book includes many interesting facts such as that the Latin word for apple is the same as the word for evil.  His look at trees in the Bible goes from the tree of life in Genesis to Calvary's "tree" where Jesus was crucified, to the Revelation.  There are numerous references to trees through scripture which are discussed.  Trees and people are inextricably linked, because without the oxygen that trees and other plants make, people would die.  I love this book!  
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced copy for me to review.
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This book is amazing!

Some of it was familiar, and sone of it really made me think. 
I am saddened to realize how many trees we have already lost, great forests that I didn't notice in scripture that have been destroyed. 

But I am also motivated to do something. The significance of trees and plants to my faith, and future generations is real, and I will be planting more for sure.

The author writes in a very engaging way. For nonfiction, I enjoyed this far more than I had expected, because I struggle with the genre. His unusual background as a carpenter, doctor, nonbeliever who became a Christian leads to a remarkable storyline within this walk through the forests and plants that mark the most important events in the Bible. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to grow their faith, be challenged to get involved, and find a way to work together with anyone who cares about the environment.
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Matthew Sleeth has written an engaging and passionate book about an unsung actor in the drama of salvation: the tree. Pointing out that every major character in the stories contained in the Bible includes a tree, Dr. Sleeth encourages us to take seriously God’s love for trees. A delightful romp beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation, he does this through sharing his personal experiences, intriguing facts, and insights that build faith and encourage us to grow. If you are looking for something that challenges you to widen your vision of Jesus’ extraordinary mission and to act accordingly, Reforesting Faith is a good place to start.

Reforesting Faith emphasizes that we need to wake up to the enormous gift God has given us in all of creation, including trees. If Amazon were to drop an enormous gift box on a neighbor’s doorstep only to have them never bother to take a peek inside, we might wonder about our neighbor’s sanity. Yet, many of us go through the day without ever experiencing the giftedness of creation. To that effect he encourages us to notice the world around us and to allow it to lead us into wonder. Dr. Sleeth asks us what might have happened to salvation history if Moses had been absorbed in a cellphone screen as he passed by the burning bush, or looked at the bush but didn’t even notice (or care) that it was burning. Moses did notice this unusual occurrence, wondered, and entered into a life-changing dialogue with God. 

Moses’ experience resonates with that of St. Paul and centuries of devout disciples who have found God speaking to them through nature. As George Washington Carver, the great disciple and scientist, who said

Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God. 

Dr. Sleeth also argues that it behooves us to remember that God sent Jesus to redeem the whole world, not just humans, because he loves it dearly. Walter Brueggemann points out in his book, The Land, that all the covenants God has made with God’s people are three-way covenants between God, humans, and the rest of creation. What God does is for the sake of all his creation, not just us. The word that we translate as “world” is the Greek word cosmos, which includes the meanings of beauty and order. God sees God’s beautiful creation as a community of interrelated and interdependent creatures – rocks, air, water, algae, platypuses and people – that Jesus came to redeem and transform. What God loves so deeply we need to cherish also.  

Loving all creation, including trees, involves acknowledging our dependence on it and honoring that relationship. Without trees we have no air, water, building material, paper, and a myriad of things we take for granted that sustain our very lives. Indeed, Dr. Sleeth points out we are deeply immersed in a life support system that God gives us and expects us to sustain for our, and its, benefit. To this effect the author encourages us to get in touch with it by planting trees. Doing so not only benefits all of creation but changes us in the process. Doing so helps get us back in touch with our roots. With our growing urbanization we have become more and more alienated from the rest of the community of life. For our physical and spiritual well being Dr. Sleeth encourages us to re-discover God’s gift of trees, particularly in a society increasing alienated from God, one another, and the rest of creation. As someone who lives surrounded by trees, I couldn’t agree more.
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I have not read a Karen Kingsbury book in a long time. I was glad to revisit the Baxter family. I need to go back and read some of the Baxter books I have missed. I have always enjoyed Karen Kingsbury books and my patrons at the library will look forward to this book.
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