Jean Y. Gaffin
Reviewed by: Robert R. Drake
Date posted: 06/28/2020
Who He Says I Am: A Study of Our Identity in Christ, by Jean Y. Gaffin. Christian Focus, 2020. Paperback, 176 pages, $8.81 (Amazon). Reviewed by PCA minister Robert R. Drake.
Let me say immediately what I didn’t like about this book. I didn’t like the cover. To me, it was too feminine with all those tiny roses. It looked like the wallpaper on a room to which men were not welcome. I didn’t like it, because the title of the book grabbed me at first glance, and I wanted to be admitted into that room!
That title, Who He Says I Am, not only succinctly summarizes the message of the New Testament, it also addresses the fundamental issue of our day: identity. Jean Gaffin’s introduction modestly gives a nod to the relevance this little book might have for this issue, but I would have elaborated on that relevance. I grew up in the days when both the sophisticated (The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with Gregory Peck) and the hip (the Beatniks) were talking about finding themselves. Today all generations are being told, paradoxically, “There is no you to find. Who you are must be invented—by you.” Identity is the hot issue of our day. Two years ago, my granddaughter gave a senior speech in high school on identity. Just days before I read this book, our son addressed via Zoom the subject of identity to some business colleagues. The previous hot issues of abortion and homosexuality were only precursors to the fundamental problem that people have no way of knowing who they are—apart from Christ.
With meek wisdom, Jean Gaffin reminds everyone that the real issue is Who He Says I Am. I had read that title with an emphasis on that word “he.” Before I even opened the book, I heard that title saying, “Don’t listen to the world telling you who you are. Don’t listen to your desires, to your past failures, nor even to your dreams. Listen to him! Who does he say you are?”
When I went on to read the book, I wasn’t disappointed. The format is for a women’s Bible study, complete with discussion topics and helpful questions for personal reflection. The content consists of ten presentations on identity in Christ, such as “You are a new creation” and “You are a child of God.” Bold headings let you easily follow her chain of thought. Under each heading, she gives several Scripture references and illustrates points using contemporary, real-life stories.
Then, she dares to go where many men are often reluctant to go. She asks “How are we to do that?” and answers with some practical advice. She even gives advice about individual Bible study. And, as if she has not been practical enough, she turns the whole book into a prelude for worship with an appendix that gives us a hymn to sing after every discovery of our identity in Christ.
I have granddaughters (and grandsons, despite the wallpaper) who could also appreciate this book as much as I have.