Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Book Review: A More Christlike God by Brad Jersak

About the book: What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior?

Believers and atheists alike typically carry and finally reject the toxic images of God in their own hearts and minds. Even the Christian gospel has repeatedly lapsed into a vision of God where the wrathful King must be appeased by his victim Son. How do such good cop/bad cop distortions of the divine arise and come to dominate churches and cultures?

Whether our notions of 'god' are personal projections or inherited traditions, author and theologian Brad Jersak proposes a radical reassessment, arguing for A More Christlike God: a More Beautiful Gospel. If Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the radiance of God's glory and exact representation of God's likeness," what if we conceived of God as completely Christlike---the perfect Incarnation of self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love? What if God has always been and forever will be cruciform (cross-shaped) in his character and actions?

A More Christlike God suggests that such a God would be very good news indeed---a God who Jesus "unwrathed" from dead religion, a Love that is always toward us, and a Grace that pours into this suffering world through willing, human partners.
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1JHG9yp

My Thoughts:  It took me awhile to get through this book, and I'm still pondering parts of it.  I appreciated a lot of Jersak's thoughts, but many of his points left me unsettled, uneasy, and frankly, unconvinced.

Jersak's assertion that we can know everything there is to know about God from the life of Jesus is, in itself, suspect.  Yes, Jesus is the perfect representation of God, but not everything He said or did is recorded in the gospels.  If that was all we needed to know, why do have the epistles, or the entire OT for that matter?  God has revealed himself in the entire Bible, not just select books.

In order to dewrath God, Jersak does two things.  First he interprets wrath to be passive - the natural consequences of our sin is it's own punishment.  To a certain extent, this is very true, but leaves many questions unanswered.  Second, he interprets all mention of God's active wrath as either misunderstood, figurative, or ironic.  He does not give satisfactory explanations to the portions of scripture he tries to tackle, and seems to simply take a scissor to other passages from both the OT and the NT, including even the words and actions of Jesus.  (Jesus clearing out the temple strikes me as wrathful, for example).  At time he implies that the writers of the OT were misinterpreting things or confused - which is impossible, since all scripture is God-breathed.  And, at times, seems to take a snide tone when he talks about anyone disagreeing with his obvious conclusions.

I agree that no matter what we do God is always turned toward us, continuing to offer us grace.  I disagree with him though, that the offer never ends.  He doesn't outrightly say it, but it is implied that he believes eventually everyone is saved and no one is in hell.

I agree that who God actually is, is independant of who we think He is.

Yet, at the same time, I think he has tried to put God in a box, and He doesn't quite fit.

I would not recommend this book.  Instead, I would highly recommend one called The Most Encouraging Book on Hell Ever

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

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