I love this book because it challenges the small "box" we tend to put God in, and offers a fresh and powerful perspective on God's passion for each onI love this book because it challenges the small "box" we tend to put God in, and offers a fresh and powerful perspective on God's passion for each one of us. I don't think it's a theologically complete picture of God, but I don't believe it was intended to be so. And that's ok! According to my uncle, who knows the author, it was originally written by a father trying to paint a picture of God's love and goodness to his kids as they all went through a difficult time as a family. What a blessing that this picture could be experienced by so many more!
So... I just heard a sermon that encouraged people NOT to read this book because it is a subtle form of idolatry. Specifically, it makes God a person, when God in the Bible is never a person until He comes to earth as Jesus. In fact, God says never to make a false image of Himself. It was also argued that the book attempts to tame God and make Him more simple and understandable.
So now I have tons of questions. Is it really idolotry? It's fiction - meant as an illustration of aspects of God's character. Can a book ever completely and truly capture the nature of God apart from the Bible? If it is blatant incorrect theology, does that make what the book does have to offer invalid or not worth it? Is it dangerous to attempt to put God in understandable terms? If so, is it worth trying at all? How is this portrayal of God similar from and different to what we see in the Narnia series? Is one right and the other wrong? Why?
I have to admit, I'm confused. If any of my friends read this and would like to discuss it, that would be great.
This is something I really had to think and pray through and talk with my husband about. The idea that I could be recommending something that was potentially idolatrous was not something I wanted to take lightly. Poor Aaron. When I get a bee in my bonnet, I can't let go until I've exhausted the issue in conversation. Actually, it's more like beating the issue to death and then grinding it up in little pieces and examining the pieces under a microscope. :o)
Here's where I am right now with this. I don't think that legalism is involved here. Someone is being legalistic when they follow the letter of the law for the sake of following it, not really understanding or desiring to follow the spirit or purpose of the law. I don't think that was the case in the sermon I heard. It was obvious from what he was saying that the concern was embracing something that may not give glory to God and treating it as if it did. Perhaps even embracing something that was disrespectful or idolatrous, which is even more dangerous. I don't think that is legalistic.
After me asking him a million questions, most of them unanswerable, my husband said that while it is possible to consider a portrayal/image of God and use it as an aid to knowing Him better, there is a risk, and sometimes a significant one, that it could be inaccurate, incomplete, idolatrous, or even heretical. It's one thing to pursue the knowledge of God as He reveals Himself to us, but another to assign an image to God, who cannot be contained. It limits our view of a limitless God. Jesus often took a law of God and explained that it was important to follow the spirit/purpose of the law. Basically, acknowledging the line that was drawn regarding that law, and take 10 steps back to make sure you're nowhere near it. Or better, living your life in such a way that you're walking away from those tempting situations. Aaron said that the same should be true about idolatry and making images of God. It is best to examine what we read/watch/hear, examine our hearts, and pray about situations and walk away from things when there is a risk that it could turn to idolatry.
Frankly, I don't like it. I like this book, and I like other books and movies that are called into question by this discussion. But just because I don't like something doesn't mean it isn't true or correct. I think my husband is right, and the goal should be to hold everything up to the light of God and make sure that it truly honors Him. And especially to make sure it doesn't violate the guidance He has given us about how to live in right relationship with Him. I don't yet understand exactly what that will look like in my life when it comes to books and movies, but this is helpful to keep in mind along the way....more
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