Bradley Jersak’s A More Chirstlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, is an excellent reflection of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ and its meaning for our salvation. Jersak sees that we have come to some misunderstandings of God. The source of this misunderstanding for Jersak is that we’ve been distracted, by a belief that God controls everything even evil, and by theodicy that attempt to rescue God from being the monster God becomes when God’s being all-powerful means God causes evil, and by our theories of the Atonement.
For the most part I found myself cheering as I read, as Jersak deftly identifies some of the prominent problems in current Evangelicalism and with Calvinism and Fundamentalism, by showing how they don’t line up with the tried and faithful interpretation of Scripture that begins with Christ and reads all Scripture in light of Christ being the full revelation of God, “If you have seen me(Jesus of Nazareth) you have seen the Father.” At moment’s I’d use slightly different language and I’d have preferred a more robust articulation of the nature of metaphorical language and how it functions, but in the end Jersak offers a needed corrective to much that seeks to pass itself off as the guardian of the ‘truth” or for “orthodoxy” or “Christianity” Jersak is no guardian of truth, but seeks to present a truth about God that needs no hedges or fences around it to keep it safe.
For some (unfortunately perhaps many) Jersaks presentation of God as revealed fully in Jesus Nazareth the Christ, will seem strange and new. In a time and culture where recoveries of the Faith Once delivered to the saints soled to us as new, Jersak readily admits this is no new discovery. I appreciate that he is also able to speak of things that have a long history in the Mind of Church in fresh ways, that show that the “orthodoxy” he is presenting is deeply life-giving and grounded in traditional affirmations of God as Trinity and of the Son’s incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus Christ;s life death and Resurrection.
In a couple of places I feel Jersak stumbles in his presentation. At times he seems to use metaphor as secondary way of knowing about God and God in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Thus, things he has difficulty squaring with his presentation of the more Christlike god, have to do with that we’ve taken literally what was to be taken metaphorically. However, he seems to think that there can be literal speech about God. While I appreciate his language of consent and participation, he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that even those terms are problematic “literally” when speaking of God. Jersak advises a humility in our speech about God, yet stops short of saying that even his presentation is itself subject to the same negation and affirmation as the presentations of God with which he struggles. Jersak rightly calls to our attention that we must pay careful attention to who Jesus Christ is presented to be in the Gospels for Jesus was God’s full revelation of God’s self, what Jersak never says is that that revelation also keeps us from speaking about God, it also hides God. Understanding the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is key, it however does not allow us to speak “literally” or directly about God. In a sense all speech about God even Jersaks wonderful and deeply helpful book are metaphorical.
In the end, the book fizzled out for me as Jersak concludes his book with he presentation of The Gospel in Chairs: the Beautiful Gospel, which was first developed by the Orthodox priest Father Anthony Carbo. While I understand why Jersak concludes the book in this way : He wants to offer a way for people to communicate and pass on what he ha presented in the book that he has found helpful and that touches people. However, I had the same feeling I have always had with the Four Spiritual Laws: Its problem is why its so useful, it is oversimplified.
Overall though A More Christlike God should be read by any who have ever been troubled by certain Evangelical and Calvinist presentations of a God who is in control and whose wrath and anger would come down on you except for Jesus stepping in. I hope any who have been so troubled will then be able to see that they were correct to be troubled because who God has revealed God self to be in Jesus Christ contradicts those troubling idols.
Interview of Jersak by Peter Enns
Disclosure of Material Connection: 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.