Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: Scripture by Heart by Joshua Choonmin Kang

Joshua Choonmin Kang's Scripture by Heart is a unique, powerful approach to the discipline and practice of memorizing scripture. The book is subtitled Devotional Practices for Memorizing God's Word and both its tone and content testify to a deep, loving devotion to God and His word. This book is not a how-to, but it is practical. It is not high theology, but it stimulates the mind, heart and spirit. It is not emotional, but it is filled with quiet, insistent passion. While this does not detail specific methods of memorization or give tricks or tips to gain instant knowledge of the Scripture, it goes far beyond that to motivate the heart and the mind. Kang's testimony and wisdom convinces and convicts, in a way that plants the motivating seed for memorization within the reader. Scripture by Heart develops argument after argument from the heart to the heart, creating an apologetic of faithful passion for memorizing the Word of God. 

Kang's approach is meditative and constantly appeals to the heart and the spirit, but thoroughly explains the process of the mind. A careful examination of the connection between the cognitive process and communication and the truth within the heart details the communication between our heart and God's through the memorization of God's Word. Kang quotes many modern day experts on the mind and on success, which can be distracting, but reveals a thorough research on the mind's functions and abilities. It is clear that the author intends to show the mental practices and attitudes necessary for success in memorization as well as the benefits. The psychology of the book is accessible and thorough; however, the treasure of the book lies in Kang's ability to reveal the connection between memorizing scripture and spiritual success, and even more importantly between hiding the Word in your heart and spiritual intimacy: "The more we commit the Word to memory, the richer our being becomes. The melodious concert of his Word will continually echo within us. Then we'll encounter the conductor, our Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who helps us remember the Scriptures, and the Father, who'll receive glory through all of this." The emphasis lies on spiritual development and disciplined transformation through the reception of the word in practiced meditation and memorization. The illumination of how this practice gives glory to God and involves the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the jewel of the study and is unique in its potency. Many may attempt to convince us to memorize scripture, but Kang succeeds. Those who have a zeal and love for Christ and His Word, will find their zeal stoked and applied to memorization, a transfer that Kang facilitates by biblical exposition and a contagious fervor.

I'm sure that I will find myself referring to this book again and again. Its thirty short devotional essays on memorization and the seventeen articles on practical application or practice of memorization are valuable advice and go far beyond mnemonic techniques. Within the first few chapters I had developed a conviction to begin a regular discipline of memorization, and for most, it's motivation that hinders our memorization, not ability. This book will motivate you, not only to memorize but also to meditate and savor the Word. In addition Kang passes on great wisdom on a number of other topics of discipleship and life through the topic of memorization, and while his prose may not be characterized as pithy, the book achieves great results and contains deep wisdom with short passages. I would highly recommend Scripture by Heart to all; it will engage your heart in the memorization of scripture, a practice which will surely be part of God's continuing transformation of His children.

My thanks to Intervarsity Press for providing this free review copy. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.


  1. Your page alignment is messed up some how and you have a typo when you list the subtitle... it makes it seem as if an author with a foreign name is speaking broken English!

  2. Thanks for catching the typo. That's something your eyes tend to glide over after you've written and know what it's supposed to say. I'm not sure what you mean about the alignment though. It looks OK to me. I intended the text to be beside the picture rather than under.