Is it that I’m just getting lazy, or am I pasting a picture of highlighted text rather than transcribing it because I want to lure you into picking up a copy of Brad Jersak’s book A More Christlike God and marking it up like I have been doing? When I saw A More Christlike God come up on Speakeasy’s menu of books inviting me to read and review, I just couldn’t resist the title.
Normally I don’t bite at such offers of “we’ll send you a free copy and you review in x number of days” because, well, I like to read what I want to read when I want to read just because I do. But the title got me. Then Jersak’s bio got me. The book did not disappoint.
It’s a thinking book, but not overly chewy. But it’s chewy enough that I didn’t want to plow through it to meet a deadline. I wanted to savor. And I have. Which is why this review is two days late. I just couldn’t rush the read for the simple reason I didn’t want to. But then I’m a theology geek.
Theology/Philosophy geeks, meet Brad Jersak. Take a spin through his latest book.
If you wonder about the seeming disparity between the Father and the Son when it comes to anger issues;
If you struggle with the theme and graphic instances of Divine violence in either part of the Book;
If you’re turned off by a weak Jesus that anyone can beat up in favor of the conquering, William Wallace* kind of Christ – or vice versa;
If you’ve spent more than your share of time grappling with the idea of God and the fact of suffering in this world;
If you’re a thinker who can handle some alternative ways of looking at God and Scripture to alternately stretch and/or infuriate/delight you;
If you’re a major theology geek and “too much theology” is simply not a phrase that would ever be heard passing through your lips;
Then you should be right at home with A More Christlike God.
“Behold the kindness and the severity of God,” says Paul. It seems we tend to lean either into the one or the other, emphasizing kindness while downplaying the severity, or vice versa. Yet while we can call attention to Divine violence glimpsed in Christ in the Gospels (after all, he did curse a barren fig tree and drown a thousand pigs!), such incidents provide a curious counterpoint to what is clearly on display front and center in Jesus: he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. Yes, he overturned tables in the temple once. Okay, maybe twice. Yes, he cursed a tree. Yes, he decried the religious elite of the day as hypocrites and the temple as a den of thieves. But it is his merciful touch and presence that dominates the landscape – all under the shadow of the cross that serves as the focal point of his life and of the Gospel that he birthed through it. This is Jersak territory.
Clearly, God has layers. And so does Christ.
Thank you, Brad, for your refreshing A More Christlike God exploration through the layers.
Take and read.
* Years ago after returning from a mission trip to Scotland, someone asked me if I thought God approved of William Wallace’s approach to dealing with injustice. “It depends…” I said, adding after a profound pause, “…on which Testament you happen to be leaning into.” I also could have said it depends on which Joshua we are trying to follow: the one in the Old Testament book of the same name who went about wiping out the Canaanites by Divine fiat, or the one we read about in the Gospels who shared some crumbs of mercy from the Divine table with a desperate Canaanite woman. Yeah. Jersak’s book is kinda like that…