Here is my prayer: that with open hearts, we might be willing to revisit and reform our assumptions about the meaning of the Cross, and thereby make fresh and beautiful discoveries about Christ’s glorious gospel.
This prayer, found on Page 229, sums up the intensity with which Brad Jersak’s new book, A More Christlike God; A More Beautiful Gospel resonated with me. Ever since I picked up Stricken by God? and read Jersak’s contribution, I knew that he understood the why of having the conversation. So much of what I experienced of Evangelical Christianity over three decades was a merry-go-round of strife, rigid lines, finger-pointing, and the fallout that results from everyone having to believe ‘correctly’. Somewhere along the way, the Body of Christ lost the wonder, mystery, and majesty of the Gospel itself. This book is Brad’s earnest plea to find that continuity of love again; and in that way, his work represents the cry of my own heart to the broken-down, divided Body known as the Church.
While I think the book has a lot to say to both Christian and Atheist alike, surely, it is primarily written for the ears of those who have already heard the call of God in Christ (the questions and prayers at the end of each chapter make this an excellent study guide for small groups as well). How we as a people of God have come to separate the character and purposes of Jesus from His Father’s is a mystery; that we have done so is made abundantly clear by our divisiveness. As we have divided the Son from the Father, so we have divided ourselves from one another.
Brad opened the book with this statement:
The purpose of this brief work is to introduce in simple terms a more Christlike image of God.
The necessity of this endeavor is, to me, a tragedy beyond words. My gratitude towards Brad for attempting to tackle the monumental task of unraveling the arguments for disparity between Father and Son is boundless; that he actually succeeded in doing so utterly astounds! While I enjoyed the first half of the book, especially learning new words like cruciform and kenosis, by far Brad’s look at the varying atonement theories that have developed over the last 2000+ years proved most powerful.
It has been my contention for some time now that the prevailing theory amongst Evangelicals (Brad made a firm distinction between the God-given Gospel and man-made theories of the atonement – rightfully so) of Penal Substitutionary Atonement is not only anti-Christ, but has done untold damage to genuine seekers of life, love, and truth. If you are one of those damaged souls, I hope and pray you will take the time to read Jersak’s book. I believe you will find a healing balm within, and a hope that will push you forward into the loving arms of your Father-God.
I will close my review with this ‘teaser’ found on the back cover:
What is God like? Toxic images abound: God the punishing judge, the deadbeat dad, the genie in a bottle – false gods that need to be challenged. But what if, instead, God truly is completely Christlike? What if His love is more generous, his Cross more powerful, and his gospel more beautiful than we’ve dared to imagine? What if our clearest image of God is the self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering Love revealed on the cross? What if we had … A More Christlike God?
~ ~ ~
About the Author:
Bradley Jersak is married to Eden Jersak and father to Stephen, Justice and Dominic. They currently live in Abbotsford, BC Canada. After serving twenty years as an ordained pastor and church planter, Brad was chrismated into the Orthodox Church (OCA) and ordained, ‘Reader Irenaeus.’ After leaving the pastorate, he completed a PhD in theology at Bangor University and some post-doc research in kenotic theology at the University of Nottingham. Today, Brad serves as the senior editor of Plain Truth Ministries and writes for Christianity Without the Religion Magazine. Brad is also on the faculty of Westminster Theological Centre, where he teaches New Testament and Patristics, and is an adjunct faculty member at St. Stephen’s University.
A More Christlike God is Brad’s tenth book (author, co-author or editor).
For more information about Brad, visit his website.
A More Christlike God website
A More Christlike God on Amazon
Review on The Imperfect Pastor
Review on Faith Meets World
Review on Redeeming God
Interview of Jersak by Peter Enns
Foreword by Brian Zahnd
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.