When People are Big and God is Small by David T. Welch. Published by P&R Publishing, 1997. Reviewed by Pastor McShaffrey.

In this book, Welch ministers to those weary saints who carry the heavy yoke of the fear of man; which he defines as: “We replace God with people. Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others”  (p. 14).

Welch’s approach is warm, pastoral, and extremely personal.  He does not hesitate to use examples from his own life (which not only adds to his credibility, but also enforces his counsel).

His ultimate purpose is to help others view God properly and fear him appropriately; believing that this will enable them to adjust their interpersonal expectations.  Every chapter comes with weighty-but-accessible content, challenging conclusions, and opportunities for honest self-examination.

Welch’s approach is thoroughly biblical (in that he roots the problems of fear and shame in the fall and also provides several examples from biblical characters and narratives).  Particularly helpful was his use of Peter’s denial and restoration, Isaiah’s lesson in holiness, and Hosea’s lesson in redeeming love.

However, this book is no mere Bible study.  Welch also uses the experiences of extra-biblical personalities (e.g. himself and Luther) to make his point.  He even invites the reader into his counseling room on occasion. So many examples are used in this book, that the reader is bound to relate to at least one.

Welch is able to address matters of the heart so effectively, that it seems as if he had each reader personally in mind as he wrote each page.  This demonstrates his wealth of knowledge and experience as a counselor.

Since this book deals with those psychological categories of self-esteem, co-dependence, inter-personal relations, etc., Welch wisely chooses to interact with and evaluate the modern/secular approaches to the problem of fearing man.  He rightly denounces the development of modernistic conceptions, the disease of self-centeredness, the ultimate supremacy of feelings, and the role of psychology as an “official caretaker.”

At the same time, what Welch takes away from the reader in these areas, he quickly replaces with biblical concepts and definitions.  The key concept and calling being: Fear God (for all that he is, all he has done, and all he has promised).  Welch leads his readers into the throne room of God so that their lives and struggles might be seen in proper perspective, knowing that once we learn who God is, we will then (and only then) relate to other people properly.

Over-all, Welch’s book is a fine and much needed study in the fear of God. He helps us to find our rest, joy, fulfillment, and ultimate point of reference in him; so that we will not only be delivered from the paralyzing malady of putting men where only God should be, but so that we will also be a blessing to the body of Christ (rather than burdensome attention vacuum).