I had a chance to do some reading over the winter break. One book I was eager to look at is by Brian S. Rosner, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity (Zondervan, 2017). As the title suggests, Rosner tackles the theme of “identity” by focusing on the idea of “being known by God,” tipping his hat to Galatians 4:9. The book is about the answer to the question who am I? People today are so desperate to build and curate their image and identity, but Rosner argues that Scripture teaches how what is most important (in terms of identity) is being known by God; that is, how we belong to, are remembered by, and loved by God in Jesus Christ. This gave me good pause for thought about the damage done by social media in our society today. We can feel “known” by people on FB or Instagram, but it can be so shallow and superficial and fake that we really don’t feel “known” at a deeper level. God knows us “through and through,” and that can make all the difference in terms of the security of our identity.
If I had one small bone to pick, it is the limitation of focusing on the word “known.” For my part, belonging to God is more central to what Scripture communicates about identity. Rosner talks a lot about belonging as a feature of being known, but I think it made more sense as the focus (especially in view of the centrality of familial metaphors in the Bible).
While Rosner does a lot of good work in Scripture itself, this book is wide-ranging in terms of dialogue with theologians and church leaders as well, and what is most striking is how Rosner talks about his own journey to locating his identity in “being known by God.” I think this would make a great Bible study and a good book for personal growth as well.