Jan 20, 2008

New Feature - Books You Need to Read

Alright. I've decided to add something to the blog of educational value. Everyone who knows me knows that I have a lot of books and that I like to read. (Actually, I like to look like I like to read. I don't get to read as much as I like. Mostly because it's too noisy around my house to enjoy anything until everyone goes to bed and because I watch too much TV. But I digress..)

So, occasionally I will post my thoughts here about books that I have read or am reading that I think you should check out and why. My first book to meet this status is The Trivialization of God by Donald McCullough. I first picked up this book in 1996 when it came out and was deeply impacted by it. It quickly became one of my favorites and one I recommended frequently. I loaned out my copy to someone who never returned it (someone will answer for that). Soon after, the book went out of publication. I had to buy a used copy of EBay.

Recently, I had to read this book again for a seminar and enjoyed it as much as the first time. The premise of the author is that the modern-day church has lost much of the awe and reverence for God. In his place, many Christians has substituted more "manageable" deities - gods of their own making that provide security and comfort but don't inspire much awe. Some of these gods identified by the author are "The God of My Comfort" who exists to provide blessing for me and help me find a better parking spot or take away any pain.

Another manageable god is "The God of My Understanding." This god fits nicely into my theological constructions and tradition. He exhibits the characteristics that I read from him in the Bible or what's been told to me through my church. However, he is limited to these constructs and can't go outside of them. I need a god I can easily explain and who tows my party line or creed.

Other false gods are "The God of My Success", "The God of My Nation", and "The God of My Cause". Each of these gods make me and my causes the center of the world. The don't ask for much and truthfully, they aren't much to worship.

One of the most helpful contributions of the author was the concept of "reverent agnosticism" - meaning that we as Christ-followers need to be comfortable believing in God but not exactly knowing everything about Him or being able to explain Him. We lose the awe and reverence for God at the point that he becomes predictable and coercible. We need to revere and worship God, especially what we don't know about Him.

While it is disappointing that the author of this book later left his ministry because of a moral failure, this is still a great book and one that will stretch your faith. You will have to buy this book used, which is really a shame. I could loan you mine, but you'll have to put a deposit so I don't lose it again.