An approach to scriptural devotions using acronyms.
Oliver’s nonfiction debut features a unique, inviting approach to thinking about the Christian life. He arranges acronyms in alphabetical order (with many letters repeated), and after each one is given, Oliver expounds at varying lengths on their meanings and his thinking behind creating them. Entries range in length from brief, like “ALL” (Agape: Lingering Love), to middle length (“GOSPEL”: God’s only Son Provides Eternal Life) to slightly longer and more involved (“IMMANUEL”: Immaculate, Marvelous Messiah’s Atonement Necessary, Uniting Elohim’s Love). Some of the repetition in letters and acronyms is clearly intended to underscore thematic significance—such as “JESUS” (Justifying Eternal Salvation unto Sinners). In a short Foreword, Oliver claims divine inspiration for his conception of these acronyms, and throughout the text, he strikes an evangelical tone that many Christian readers will find bracing, for instance, “there are so many ways we can sin and not be aware of it.” In the text sections explaining his acronyms, Oliver sketches a theodicy of fundamentalist basics. “We must let God be true and every person a liar to be anchored believers, immovable and determined eternally to see the victory God has for us as we overcome the world,” he writes. Oliver doesn’t shy away from fire-and-brimstone warnings. He touches repeatedly on the fact that finding Jesus is the only path to avoiding the eternal torment of damnation (you don’t just die and that’s that, he writes—you suffer forever). Jesus, he writes, is the answer to everything in life, the standing offer of God to reconcile with the faithful. Some of Oliver’s concepts will strike many as just too absolutist; he writes that “all the problems we experience in life are a result of evil in this world” (bad phone reception? Car trouble? Liver cancer?). But Oliver is good at his central conceit: some of these acronyms are bound to stick in readers’ minds after they’ve put the book down.
An unconventional, thought-provoking organizational scheme for pondering Christianity via a fundamentalist lens.