Is being a good person and advocating a good life a surefire way to rid us of our sins and enter the kingdom of God? As Christians and Catholics – children of God – we all aim for one thing: to be in the Lord’s presence throughout and even after our lives. However, how we achieve this has always been the point of endless and ever-changing discussions.
As its title conveys, Evangel: Believer’s Sanctification aims to help with this matter. It is the second installment in Schulze’s trilogy, written to bring clarity to the word and grace of Christ. Evangel breaks down and analyzes Paul’s words in the book of Romans, chapters five to eight, known to be quite complicated, containing ideas that can be difficult to follow. And Schulze takes off some of this cognitive burden by dialing down these chapters’ intricacies. He aims to explore and proclaim the concepts of justification and sanctification fully. And he did so by discussing concepts such as the old and new life, the Triune Man, and establishing the process of sanctification and transformation.
The book is divided into multiple chapters. However, I believe readers will find two main segments while reading through it. The first segment contains Schulze’s interpretation of the Romans chapters without his personal input. He provides a technical explanation through definitions of Bible terminologies, which he believes help in reading these chapters. He expounds on every concept and cross-explains them with other related Bible books and verses. On the other hand, Schulze utilizes the other segment to explain Paul’s words further and input his own take in the text. Now, he narrates the chapters through the eyes of Paul – using the latter as the main character.
Who is this evangelization for?
Schulze stated that the book is suitable for those who already have ample knowledge about the Bible. With Schulze’s exhaustive interpretations of the Romans verses, Evangel can be used in catechisms to support an already solid comprehension. On the contrary, anyone without sufficient knowledge might find the material complicated and confusing, especially since his initial discussion circles around the complex concepts found in the book of Romans.
Does this mean it’s only for a limited audience?
It definitely isn’t for you if you aren’t a patient and thorough enough reader. Take my experience, for instance. As someone with little to almost a non-existent knowledge about the Bible, I needed to read some of the texts at least twice (or more) to grasp Schulze’s ideologies minutely – some, I might have even misunderstood. But every experience is unique. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this simply because I found it complicated. I would still recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn and understand more about God’s words.
The Good and Bad of Evangel
One of the things I liked about the book was Schulze’s utilization of other Bible chapters and verses outside of Romans to strengthen his interpretation. In doing so, he demonstrated the Bible’s cohesiveness and its ability to stand as a single medium in helping people realize the way to their spiritual salvation and sanctification. I believe this detail is significant, primarily since the Bible is typically understood and interpreted in parts rather than as a whole message conveying God’s words. Hence, not only did Schulze’s Evangel help people understand the book of Romans better, but he also perhaps demonstrated the proper way of reading and interpreting the Bible.
However, there also is a downside to the book. Since he’s explaining consecutive chapters, it’s unavoidable that some of Schulze’s statements overlap and become repetitive. It may have even arrived at a point of redundancy. Though it should also be stated that these redundancies aren’t all in vain, some still provide value to the context. Therefore, if you’re someone who wants straightforward explanations, this book might not be of your preference.
I know giving off details is unpleasant, but I’d like to tell possible readers this much.
I believe most of this book’s flesh is found in Schulze’s “Interpretation” chapters. While his preceding discussions were more technical, this segment expounded chapters without reiterating them word for word. These interpretations revolved around explaining the main ideas gathered from the chapters rather than explaining the chapters’ verses. Besides this section being relatively worded simpler, it was also narrated from Paul’s perspective, making the lessons easier to understand. People may easily relate to their behaviors and thought processes by placing the gospel in a character.
In his final thoughts, Schulze mentions seeing himself spending all his time trying to struggle for the faith. I believe this realization from him is, somehow, the best summary of what he wanted to preach. I agree that as humans, most of us try to make it to heaven without actually knowing how to achieve that. Typically, we grow up doing and thinking of what’s right according to societal standards. Yet very rarely do most of us receive actual teachings and guidance on how Christ would have wanted us to believe and behave. We rarely ever step back and truly ponder how life should be lived with Christ.