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 Bradley 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?
Jersak unwraths God, making the case that since God is fully revealed in Jesus—exactly like him—then God is a self-giving lover rather than a conquering emperor. He further argues that those negative actions we blame on God are rather, natural consequences of our sin or the action of the evil one. He effectively shows that God is a Love that is always toward us, and that Christ’s victory was actually won through self-giving.
This exegesis in this book is theologically sound and well written, complex enough for the theologian, but simple enough for the layperson. It also seems to be well balanced, drawing near to but avoiding many of the more controversial theologies that have made their way into the church today. If you want to have your image of God transformed, I recommend this book.