A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel Bradley Jersak
When I selected this book, I hoped to read how the life of Jesus revealed God to us. Instead, the focus was on the death of Jesus. I had hoped for more about how Jesus’ ministry was life-giving for those he encountered, how Jesus saw ones who others ignored, etc. This book presented the death of Jesus as how we can more accurately see/know God. For this reason, I struggled to read this book. Because of his focus on the cross and our very different experiences with the church, this book did not resonate with me. I wanted to love it. I did love the second telling of “The Beautiful Gospel” beginning on page 280. He uses Scripture and modern story to illustrate how no matter what we do, God always turns toward us. It was an inspiring end to the book.
One goal of this book was to present a systematic theology that was accessible for the average reader. I think that was achieved. When he uses words that are more technical or words have a variety of meanings, he includes the definition that he is using. I found this to be very helpful as I read the book and imagine other readers would as well.
I did not understand the choice of language used for God in this book. On page 3, the author discusses the problem with using pronouns for God. “Even using the simple pronoun ‘he’ for God is awkward and inaccurate. I will use it, but when I do, I tend to cringe. God is not a ‘him’ or ‘her.’” (3). This made me cringe throughout the book. I wonder why he acknowledged this difficulty if he wasn’t going to change his language. His answer seemed to be I don’t like to call God he, but I’m going to do it anyway. This disappointed me.
My excitement for this book was because I hoped he would share my understanding that the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are God incarnate. While I do not attempt to explain and understand God completely, a good portion of what I know to be true about God is because of the ministry of Jesus. I also see God revealed through prophets and apostles. One tension for me has always been how to believe in Jesus without becoming a supersessionist. (This is the idea that Christ as the new covenant has replaced or superseded God’s covenant with the Israelites. If taken far enough, it means that Christians are the chosen people and the Jews are not because they haven’t accepted Christ as the new covenant). I am not a supersessionist and try hard to make that clear in the language I use. Here is one section that concerned me, “We read in John 1:17 that Moses gave us the Law (a system of rewards and punishments), but Christ brought us grace and truth. We read in 2 Corinthians 3:9 that Moses’ covenant brought condemnation but Jesus’ covenant brings righteousness, true freedom and transformation. What’s happening here? Rather than replacing Yahweh of the Old Testament with the Christ of the New, these authors emphasize that Moses’ revelation of God as the just Judge (the law-bringer) is being eclipsed as Jesus’ greater revelation of God the loving Father (the gospel-giver)” (75).
I would recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t know that God is love. This might be a first step on your journey to seeing God in a new light.
I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.