I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today, I’m excited to interview Natalie Brand about her new book, The Good Portion: Salvation. It releases on May 17, and I know you’ll be blessed by Natalie’s contagious joy (the kind that wants to dance in the kitchen) about the subject of her writing: our great salvation in Christ.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Christian, wife, mom, and theologian. I just love a flat white in one hand and a book in the other!
I’m married to a fellow bibliophile, Tom, who I met at a theological college more than a decade ago. Tom serves as the ministry director for the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches, and he’s involved in pastoring pastors and supporting churches in the U.K.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
I read a lot as a child, and my reading has always turned into pen-on-paper. I remember writing “novels” when I was young. They were nothing profound like the juvenile literature of Jane Austen. They were just half-finished stories.
I always wanted to be a writer—to create something from nothing with words. It really is grace upon grace that I can now serve the Lord in this way.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
Every book has its own difficulties, and each one always surprises me. How can I make this book even more accessible? How can I powerfully illustrate this God-truth? What should I include? What should I not include? Writing is just as much about what you don’t say as it is what you do say. I always struggle with that.
George Orwell once described writing a book to be “a horrible, exhausting struggle” rather like a long “bout of some painful illness.” I know what he means! It gives you such joy but is a hard slog, like pregnancy.
It’s the mental obsession and ill-timed waves of inspiration that possess you. I think C. S. Lewis understood this when he said, “I was with book, as a woman is with child.”
What led you to write The Good Portion: Salvation?
Kate MacKenzie of Christian Focus emailed me one day and asked me to be a part of The Good Portion series. I replied, “A theological series for women, written by women? I’m in!” I’m so excited to be a part of a project that doesn’t water down doctrine for women but serves a meaty steak course.
Christian women don’t want to be intimidated by theology, but they don’t want to be patronized either. We must present doctrine in a God-glorifying way, so it can be, in the words of Wayne Grudem, “lived, prayed, and sung!”
A driving force behind my reading and writing was to better understand my salvation in Christ. Again, Lewis said that many times he wrote first for himself in order to better understand a topic. I, too, write to consolidate, to make sense of things, to deeply etch them in my mind. If someone publishes, or reads, or benefits from this too . . . well, that’s a big bonus!
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
I want them to know that salvation in Christ is not a mishmash of complicated theological concepts; it is a person—King Jesus! And gloriously, we are saved by means of an awesome, unbreakable union with him—the second member of the Holy Trinity. Wow!
How has writing this book affected your own life?
I have learned so much. As I wrote, I spread some of the generous bounty of salvation in Christ before me, like a pirate captain, eyes popping, gloating over the treasure spilling out of his cabin.
I know now, more than ever before, what it means that “God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:3). As the song “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me” says, “There is no more for heaven now to give.”
One of our professors at Bible college once told us we need to dance in the kitchen over our salvation. Exploring these doctrines, the flesh and bones of salvation, has given me more to dance about!
For a sneak peak, here are some quotes:
“Biblical doctrine is not safe. It is not comfortable. You can’t conquer it all. Doctrine is dangerous because it is mysterious, mighty truth about a God far bigger than we can comprehend. . . . But it is magnificent!”
“Sin spread from a garden in Eden across the globe, in the hearts of men and women. It is a universal disease. You and I don’t need to look far to see the mess of humanity. We are all infected . . . With the arrival of sin came a disturbing new development for humanity—death. And with this, an invention that the earth had not seen before—the grave.”
“Salvation in Christ is an epic rescue mission . . . Christ enters into our perilous situation, wraps Himself around us in saving spiritual union, and hauls us out to safety. Here the second person of the Holy Trinity delivers a “live-bait rescue” at Calvary, bearing the sin of the world in His body, dying a bloody death on a Roman cross. Christ is not a partial rescuer. He is not distant. Jesus accomplishes a true save! It is the rescue of rescues!”
Here’s what others are saying:
“Excellent stuff . . . Bursting with comfort and joy, here is good news for all who feel that life has sapped their spiritual energy. Natalie Brand writes with freshness and vim, acting as a friendly guide to the alpine wonders of our salvation.”
— Michael Reeves, president and professor of theology, Union School of Theology, Oxford, England
“Natalie Brand has produced an outstanding book, an excellent basis for a study group. A theologian in her own right, Dr. Brand has a thorough grasp of the panorama of salvation and its constituent elements. She writes in an engaging manner: clear, incisive, and highly accessible. Her illustrations are superb and illuminating. Buy it, read it, and use it!”
— Robert Letham, Union School of Theology, Bridgend, Wales
“The glorious doctrines of grace sparkle through the pages of Natalie Brand’s book on Salvation, revealing the radiance of our magnificent Savior, Jesus Christ. After all, salvation is not only about our rescue from death, darkness, and despair, but union and communion with the One in whom all our desires and longings are overwhelmingly filled.”
— Aimee Byrd, author of Housewife Theologian, Theological Fitness, and No Little Women
Natalie Brand (PhD, Trinity St. David) is adjunct lecturer in historical and systematic theology at Union School of Theology in Bridgend, U.K. She is also author of Complementarian Spirituality: Reformed Women and Union with Christ (2013) and Prone to Wander: Grace for the Lukewarm and Apathetic (2018).