This is a beautiful book. Just gorgeous. Author Brad Jersak takes on the dichotomy of the angry, retributive, wrathful God and the compassionate, life-giving, sacrificial Jesus. Diving into both ancient theology and biblical understandings, Jersak explores what it means to view an unchanging God through the lens of His truest revelation, Jesus.
The book is necessary as the most popular western views of God reveal Him as not only too holy to approach, but too holy to approach us. God is portrayed perhaps most aggressively in a sermon by famous American pioneer preacher Jonathan Edwards called “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” His hands cast people into hell if you’re unfamiliar with the classic sermon. It’s also the God who smites in the Old Testament, who punishes Jesus instead of us in the New Testament, and who hates the unrighteous in modern sermons.
Jersak walks us through various views of God and reveals why it is necessary to re-evaluate these flawed and harmful (and pagan) notions. We then get a deep study of a Greek word, kenosis, and how it applies to a God who gives freedom to His creation and creatures. Alongside kenosis, he unpacks the notion of a cross-shaped, or cruciform, God. Through these two lenses of God pouring out His love/power and God humbling Himself to the point of allowing His own creation to crucify Him, we try to understand the teaching of God’s wrath. This is really the crux of the matter as it is difficult to reconcile the God who smites with the God who asks us to turn the other cheek.
The book finishes with a detailed account of what the death of Jesus on the cross means and how it saves us and why the Gospel is so much richer when we understand it in terms of an everlastingly cruciform and kenotic Trinity. I was greatly moved by the account of the more beautiful gospel in the final chapter.
You may remember Jersak’s name from a previous book I read and reviewed: Her Gates Will Never Be Shut.