Josh Butler has a second book: The Pursuing God: A Reckless, Irrational, Obsessed Love That’s Dying to Bring Us Home. This book, Pursuing God, is nothing less than an explanation of the gospel of God’s pursuing love against the all-too-common caricatures that both turn some folks off to the faith and are preached by some of the church’s celebrities! Caricatures are easy. The gospel is better.
I recommend this to especially Christian college profs wondering how to speak to a generation that doesn’t seem to care about traditional theological language.
Which of these are the most common caricatures you hear?
Here are some of the themes Josh pursues in this book, a book that can be described as atonement theology for a postmodern world:
Caricature: Jesus stays at a distance and tells us how to get clean.
Gospel: Jesus gets dirty, in order to make us clean.
Caricature: God can’t stand to be in the presence of sin.
Gospel: Sin can’t stand to be in the presence of God.
Caricature: Lost means you need to go find God.
Gospel: Lost means God’s coming to find you.
Caricature: Jesus emphasizes how to be good.
Gospel: Jesus emphasizes the goodness of God.
Caricature: Jesus bearing our punishment is an act of divine child abuse.
Gospel: Jesus bearing our punishment is an act of divine love.
Caricature: The Father is cold, distant, and unengaged at the cross.
Gospel: The Father endures the greatest sacrifice of al the death of the Son.
Caricature: Sacrifice is how you clean yourself up so God can stand to be with you.
Gospel: Sacrifice is how God cleans you so you can stand to be with God.
Caricature: Wrath contradicts God’s love and is inappropriate for his character.
Gospel: Wrath arises from God’s love and deals honestly with our world.
Caricature: The Trinity is an abstract doctrine with no relevance for today.
Gospel: The Trinity changes everything—the Father, Son, and Spirit are a holy communion of love who invite us to participate in their eternal life.
Caricature: Jesus is the one and only way we go out to find God.
Gospel: Jesus is the unique and decisive way God has come to us.
Caricature: God prefers the polished, pretty, and put together.
Gospel: God goes after Nazis and whores, victims and oppressors, to make them his people and his bride.
Caricature: The church is a collection of individuals pursuing God together.
Gospel: The church is a body of people through whom God pursues the world.