Oscar C. Johnson, Ph.D.
Techbooks Media, 452 pages, (paperback) $19.99, 9781956529289
(Reviewed: April 2022)
In 52 Weeks, Oscar C. Johnson takes a new approach to daily devotions with week-long topic studies for in-depth learning.
Where most devotionals introduce a new concept every day, Johnson gives “the reader something to focus on for more than one day.” In this versatile Bible study tool, Johnson focuses on one important aspect of Christian living for an entire week. After studying the Bible this way himself, he states that this approach gave “greater insight to that topic and made it more pertinent to my life.”
Johnson covers a wide array of topics, such as humility, happiness, worldliness, time management, temptation and more in this year-long devotional that may be read straight through or cherry-picked based on current interests and needs. He provides scripture references for each daily entry and a brief exposition based on his own interpretations and occasionally “from the viewpoint of different authors,” although there are very few outside sources referenced other than the Bible.
Johnson states at the beginning of the book, “I don’t consider myself a great writer…I’m not a philosopher or a deep thinker…this book is relatively superficial.” His self-deprecation puts readers on the lookout for instances where he might stumble, which is unfortunate.
Although he has insightful comments throughout, his discussions are extremely brief and overshadowed by enlarged scripture verses that take up too much space, drawing attention to the fact that Johnson’s contributions are minimal; some days he includes only a handful of sentences. Compounded by typographical and grammatical issues, including confusion over
“accepted” vs. “excepted,” the book has an unpolished feel.
With a thorough edit, more narrative on each topic, and perhaps adding more wisdom from scholars and experts, this devotional would excel. As is, it could possibly serve as a beginning resource for new Christians and believers who are looking for quick inspirational daily bites to ponder along their spiritual journey.
Also available as an ebook.
Oscar C. Johnson
52 Weeks is an instructional devotional that reflects on a variety of biblical themes.
Oscar C. Johnson’s ranging devotional 52 Weeks uses scriptural passages and edifying teachings to explicate Christian beliefs.
Organized into weekly sections, this topical book covers subjects like the meaning of sin, combating fear, and biblical views of suffering and persecution. The meaning and application of faith is also a point of focus. Daily devotions containing readings and reflections further break the subjects down, so that each topic receives seven days of focus in pursuit of deeper understanding. In total, this regimented work is designed to last for the period of a year.
In dancing between topics as diverse as overcoming prejudice, developing patience for one’s self and others, and guarding against pride as it is defined by the Bible, the text proffers useful information for spiritual growth. Its handling of related scriptural verses is also strong. Still, its reflections are often more familiar and comforting than they are surprising. The audience is encouraged to be aware of God’s help and to seek God’s strength; they are counseled on the effects of pride and anger, as well as being told how to handle discouragement. These suggestions are amplified by reassuring notions, such as to trust God, not give in to fear, and to be humble, though these exhortations don’t often move beyond faith adages—as of on the importance of showing kindness, giving grace to others, and being persistent in doing good.
In effect, the book functions like an accessible synthesis of theological perspectives. In addition to its selfimprovement foci, it covers fundamentals like the Holy Trinity, resurrection, salvation, and Heaven and Hell. There are outside sources involved in some of this work, including multiple translations of the Bible. Indeed, when outside perspectives are represented, they result in some piquing material, as with that regarding trust as being fundamental to faith; on God’s sovereignty and power; and about false humility that presents itself in the form of feigned submission.
Still, such widening moments are few and far between. Most of the book’s reflections and opinions are personal ones, and its theological perspective sometimes seems narrow as a result. More distinguishing are notes on Johnson’s scientific background, which are jumped from for involving discussions, as on the differences between scientific methods and biblical perspectives—as when Johnson contrasts the principle of Occam’s razor with the faith values of discipline and persistence. Further, the passages are brief, and the book’s language is direct, making individual topics accessible, if without resulting in a cohesive whole.
52 Weeks is an instructional weekly devotional that reflects on a variety of biblical themes.
EDITH WAIRIMU (May 12, 2022)
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.