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Your God is Too Small

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  643 ratings  ·  54 reviews
The trouble with many of us today, writes J.B. Phillips, is that we have not found a God big enough for our modern needs. In varying degrees we suffer from a limited idea of God. Phillips exposes such inadequate conceptions of God as "Resident Policeman, " "Grand Old Man, " "Meek-and-Mild, " and "Managing Director, " and explores ways in which we can find a truly meaningfu ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Touchstone Books (first published January 1st 1952)
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First published in 1961, this exposé of populist notions of God as spiritually naive and theologically truncated has endured as a classic. Phillips reviews and dismantles more than a dozen views of God that have turned people off and even hardened and hurt many, leading them to abandon any spirituality and community in the Christian tradition because of spiritual injury. Phillips then articulates a reasonable defense of a way to construe the presence of God in human life, and in particular, in t ...more
This book could probably be considered a classic. It is relatively short (140 pages) though a lot of good, thought-provoking material, is packed into those pages. I would recommend it to any Christian.

First he deconstructs a number of unreal gods that many people worship: the god who is a policeman, a hangover to our memories of our parents, a kind old man, and more. My favorite here was the "God-in-a-box" where he attacks the idea that many Christians have that God is only working in their own
Cindi P.
I was completely engaged in this book. I was stretched in my understanding of Christianity, and my view of God did in fact grow. I found parts of it very challenging to me, and I had to read and read and read again some of the passages to get a grasp of the author's meaning. A deep thinker and loyal follower of Christ, J. B. Phillips does a gentle and kind job of making sense of "inadequate conceptions of God." And then provides a logical invitation to move forward. It reminded me of reading Mer ...more
Jonathan Brooker
Phillips has such a wonderful candor to his arguments that draws you in much C.S. Lewis when he's getting particularly pointed in an argument. Even the ending line of this book takes a poignant stab at what the reader and the world as a whole will do with Christ and Christianity that left me going, "Ouch!" My challenges were his dated writing style, at times, and then a lengthy argument he made on "Baby A." For starters it seemed like a bit of a jerk to the side in his otherwise linear argument. ...more
Despite all the critical stuff I'm about to say, this book really was quite excellent and was worthy of the hype I've heard about it. The first section on views of God that are, well, too small was alone worth the price of the book. I do wish Philips had done a bit more of what the Preface had promised. That is, reflected on what it means to have a view of God in the context of a society obsessed with science and the bigness of the universe, but that would have been perhaps yet another book.

K Kriesel
While Phillips does provide some excellent insight and clarifications, he writes like an inconsistent, judgmental blogger. He vaguely categorizes anyone and everyone (ignoring the world outside Europe and the US) according to a random series of stereotypes - which are mostly true stereotypes, to be fair, which he blithely stamps as wrong. I found that the few gems were worth trudging through his vague prejudices, but others might not feel the same.

Even without Phillips' criticisms (which contrad
This book is broken into tow halves. In the first the author deals with common falicies men believe about God. In the second he attempts to address the question of who is this God, really. In theory this is a really good way to handle things, but in practice I think it fell a little short. I almost felt like the two halves were written to two differnet audiences, the first to complacent Christians who need to have their perception of God shaken up a little bit, and the second to people who were ...more
Karl El-Koura
The book is split into two parts. In the first (and superior) half, Phillips goes on a spree of idol-smashing: he tears down the images of God we have a tendency to build up in our own minds and decide to worship, images that are as far from the real God as an actor who plays a doctor on TV is from a real doctor. Phillips goes through these idols one-by-one and exposes their inadequacy as an accurate picture of God. In the second part, Phillips tries to build up this accurate picture of God, and ...more
The author begins with a litany of criticisms for popular conceptions of God, explaining unabashedly why these conceptions are inadequate. While the criticisms are largely accurate, they tend to come across with arrogance, as from one who has it all figured out.

I was particularly disenchanted with the author’s degradation of the conscience, as an effective communication tool for God. I personally consider the conscience to be a primary means by which God communicates with the faithful.

On the c
Emmanuel Boston
May 15, 2012 Emmanuel Boston rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Agnostics, Seekers, Believers, Christians, Philosophers, Busy people
Recommended to Emmanuel by: Don Dunavant
J.B. Phillips wrote this book many years ago, but the insights he offer are still poignant today. The reader is sure to come across several lesser gods that he is at least prone to if not fully devoted to. The older, simple style, is refreshing as Phillips does not concern himself with modern atheist-theist debates and arguments but simply proceeds with what he believes. For this reason, the agnostic may be disappointed, but if he should continue through to the end, I am sure that he will not be ...more
Every era must get their own Christian apologetics. Some apologists do write for the ages, for example, Saint Paul is still relevant 2,000 years later. C. S. Lewis seems to be surviving more than the twentieth century. However, it seems to me that some Christian writers are so tuned into what their readers need that the next generations may not find them helpful. I wonder what will happen with Rob Bell and Richard Foster among others in the next 20 or 50 years.

J. B. Phillips spoke to many peopl
Your God is Too Small is a two-part treatise on who God is not and who God is. The first half is the stronger part - it's the deconstruction of different unreal gods that people create - the managing director, the projected image, the parental hangover, etc. The second half is a rational/logical/systematic building of who God must be.
Marjorie Turner

I found this book to be a good explanation of the Traditional Christian tradition. Part one identified how earlier stages of Christian belief can hold one back from a more expansive view of God. Part two, however, seemed to be applying modern logic to concepts that require some leaps of faith, which are counter to the modern scientific approach. The logic was pretty sound and made a good case for the authors assertions. Coming from a more post-modern perspective though it didn't integrate the fa
Jun 12, 2008 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is a very old book (relatively speaking) it wasn't on my "must read list" at Candler - I don't know why! It is truly wonderful. I find myself wanting to underline almost every line that Philips has written. It is very relevant. Should be on the MUST READ list of: Clergy, laity, teachers, students, Chaplains, Christians, non-Christians, and general readers of all stripes!
Cogent, short, and smart. Suffers from a bit too Anglo orientation but considering that Philips was an Anglican Bishop at
Assigned reading in college. Loved it. It will deconstruct your lame gods and then overwhelm you with the awesomeness of the true God.
Oct 03, 2014 Norah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Norah by: My mother-in-law, Lilla, I think!
Read it years ago and found it helpful.
Steve Penner
A Classic. Nuff said.
Kathleen Dixon
Phillips writes quite engagingly so I enjoyed skimming through this book. We differ on the most fundamental thing however, and that is 'the infallibility of the Bible'. He believes in it; I don't.
The book certainly has its limits. For instance, the relatively conservative cast of Phillips' evangelicalism comes to the fore as his 'hypothetical' characterization of what a God, who became present in a way human beings could understand, would be like sounds suspiciously premodelled to sound just like Jesus as popularly imagined by a mid-century English evangelical. Nevertheless, this is a great book taht I use egularly in teaching to provoke students to reflect critically on their own theolo ...more
Ron Lohrbach
Aug 08, 2008 Ron Lohrbach rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: margot laue
Recommended to Ron by: Pastor Stewart Reinnitz
Looking forward to reading and discussing in small group at Christ the Cornerstone Lutheran chuch on 5 Tuesdays starting July 8. I am familiar with J.B.Philips paraphased New Testament from the 60s when I was a young man. Looking forward to his insights in this subject of the size of God.

I have adpated the additude and expression that "God is still large and still very much in charge" to help me for balance in diffecult trying times.

Dan Mauric
This book is divided into two parts. Destructive views of God and Constructive views of God. I highly recommend the first half of the book, about the destructive views of God. I think inthe 2nd part attempts to build a constructive view of God but I had a hard time following what the author was communicating until the very last paragraph. Hence the 3 stars because only the first half of the book and the last paragraph really struck me.
Excellent. A clear exposition of the faith from a philosophical point of view. Starts with what God is not (i.e., many of the things we think he is, resident policeman, Father Christmas-like, etc.) and then begins a philosophical discussion of what God IS, starting from the points in nature and the world that point to God, and then talking about sin, and why we needed God to come down in the flesh as Jesus. Akin to Lewis' Mere Christianity.
Nov 14, 2011 Trice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trice by: reputation; JB's library
Shelves: 2011, theology-faith
Part I: Important points in his breakdown of different ways and reasons that in our own minds we make God less than He is. I've been stung by at least a couple of Phillips' descriptions - by God's mercy stung for good. And I take back all the rest of what I said before :)

Part II: Great exploration from ground up and restatement of Truths that sets them free from the language to which they sometimes seem captive.
This book was okay. Phillips offers some intriguing perspectives as to how humans currently perceive God, and the integrated flaws with that. While I didn't necessarily agree with a lot of the content, the book was written decently. I did find, however, that I had trouble maintaining focus while reading. That could've been me, but I don't usually lose focus easily while reading. Something to consider...
Excellent book!
I have read this book a number of times. It is more relevant today than when J.B. Philips originally wrote it 50 years ago. He succinctly describes the archetypal images of God that many hold to that are completely inadequate for one to develop a mature faith in God. He also builds a framework for an adequate image of God that inspires a truly mature faith.
Nathan Langford
If we ever require the bible (or any religious text) to be taught in the junior or high schools, this book should be taught with it. It is simple and will help counter the narrow minded aspects in which religion is taught. Anyone disagreeing with him, better look at his credentials.
I really enjoyed the first part of this book. After while, the second part when he talks about "A", it got really confusing and I lost interest. I think Tim Keller wrote a much better book called Counterfeit Gods about this same topic.
Carlene Havel
I love books that make me think, and this one fills the bill. I thought parts of it were brilliant, and other chapters sort of dragged. The brilliance makes the dragging worthwhile - hence the four stars, averaging one 5 and one 3.
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John Bertram Phillips or, J. B. Phillips (16 September 1906 – 21 July 1982) was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman. He is most noted for his version of The New Testament in Modern English. Phillips was born in Barnes, Surrey. He was educated at Emanuel School in London and took an Honors Degree in Classics and English from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was ordained an Ang ...more
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The New Testament in Modern English Ring of Truth Letters To Young Churches: A Translation of the New Testament Epistles Four Prophets: Amos, Hosea, First Isaiah, Micah Plain Christianity

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“The truth taught by Jesus Christ is the right way to live. It is not primarily a religion, not even the best religion, but God Himself explaining in terms that men can readily grasp how life is meant to be lived.” 1 likes
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