Book Review – You’re Only Human


Kelly M. Kapic, You’re Only Human (Brazos Press, 2022)

Most books struggle to deliver on their promise; some manage to do so; a few though end up delivering far more than might seem from their self-description. Kapic’s Book You’re Only Human manages to inhabit this last category. The book promises to be one about understanding and accepting our human limits as Christians. Kapic argues that too often both, whether from negative cultural influence or misdirected theology, we treat our finitude as human beings as something to be grieved, embarrassed about, repented of, or overcome. For Kapic this often represents, for Christians, a swallowing up of the doctrine of creation by the doctrine of sin, and a failure to grasp the unity of God’s creative and new creative work and the related identity of our God as both Creator and Redeemer. In opposition to this tendency, Kapic sets out to show how the creatureliness of being human, even in a fallen world, is a good thing, a divine gift, and something to be embraced. What follows are a series of chapters which approach the nature of what it is to be created humans from a host of different angles which illuminates both the multitude of ways in which we are finite and dependent, but also how these essential aspects of humanity are dignified and represent in Kapic’s words “a constructive gift, not a deficiency.” The main chapters of the book approach this central idea from varied perspectives: from that of our union with Christ, which rather than destroying our persons dignifies them; from that of Jesus’ own possession of human body which shows the value of ordinary and limited human nature; from our physicality and located-ness which shape our identity in community; to the limitations we experience in our time boundedness and several others. At each step Kapic opens up these topics in ways that both relate our human finitude to contemporary, everyday life and manage to deftly connect discussion to profound reflection on theological categories and the text of Scripture. If the promise is to help us as readers to do better at accepting both our own, and others’, created limitations as part of faithful Christian living, the result is really a wonderful and theologically rich book on a Christian view of embodiment and the consequences of being creatures of God rather than the godlike and self-created beings we sometimes pretend we are.