Sunday, November 02, 2014

Your God Is Too Small

I picked up my old copy of JB Phillips's Your God Is Too Small, a slim but powerful volume, because I was going to be in a waiting room for an hour.  I am having trouble gettin a pdf to link. Rather than play with it, I will simply give it to you: Phillips was never entirely trusted by American evangelicals because of his paraphrase (quelle horreur!) of the NT. Fundamentalists are word-by-word people, even if this leads them to hysterical inaccuracies, and evangelicals all kept a respectful silence if they wished to move very far from that.

In point of fact, paraphrase is superior translation, used by professional interpreters between any two languages in order to avoid saying that the Americans are lusting after the Polish people, or whatever.

I thought even the Contents page instructive.  This is not a list of the unreal gods that non-Christians or cultural Christians believe in (though some certainly do), but the phantoms clung to by believers, who are thus prevented from knowing God and moving forward.
Part One - Destructive
Unreal Gods:
I. Resident Policeman
II. Parental Hangover
III. Grand Old Man
IV. Meek-and-Mild
V. Absolute Perfection
VI. Heavenly Bosom
VII. God-in-a-Box
VIII. Managing Director
IX. Second-Hand God
X. Perennial Grievance
XI. Pale Galilean
XII. Projected Image
XIII. Assorted

Fashions change.  Our list would be somewhat different now.

Starting right from the introductory, I thought "ooh, that deserves to be quoted as a reminder, right off the bat."

The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs. While their experience of life has grown in a score of directions, and their mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderments by world events and scientific discoveries, their ideas of God remain largely static. It is obviously impossible for an adult to worship the conception of God that exists in the mind of of a Sunday-school age, unless he is prepared to deny his own experience of life. If, by a great effort of will, he does do this he will always be secretly afraid lest some new truth may expose the juvenility of his faith. And it will always be by such an effort that he either worships or serves a God who is really too small to command his adult loyalty and co-operation.
Well, that's good then. Oh. Hmm. The second paragraph looks quite good as well.
It often appears to those outside the Churches that this is precisely the attitude of Christian people. If they are not strenuously defending an outgrown conception of God, then they are cherishing a hothouse God who could only existbetween the page of a Bible or inside the four walls of a Church. Therefore to join with the worship of a Church would be to become party to a piece of mass-hypocrisy and to buy a sense of security at the price of the sense of truth, and many men of goodwill will not consent to such a transaction.
Well, we have to be getting on to the book itself now, except
It cannot be denied that there is a little truth in this criticism.
Ah, enough. You either want to read farther or you don't. I will tackle Meek-and-Mild (with quotes, of course) in a separate post.

1 comment:

Jeannette said...

I pulled this one off my bookshelf to peek at recently...ah what pile did it wind up in?

There is some way in which just the title is is a grand prompt to open up and let in a little more awe and soak in the fact of mystery and line up with the Revelation about the Almighty that is available.