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Your God is Too Small

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,212 ratings  ·  105 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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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,212 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted to keep an open mind. But the book is so narrow-minded. It feels like it is written by a fundamentalist Christian. This my spirit can't bear witness with, but apparently the book is wonderful for some other people and I am happy for that. It is just NOT my type of book in the least. I will donate it to the local library.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
A work of Christian apologetics that I found to be very sectarian and old fashioned. He points out several common concepts of God that are very limited, but the dogmatic Christian concept of God he then promotes is equally limited. Given the many positive reviews, however, this book still has value for orthodox Christians. J.S. Spong mentioned it several times with approval in his latest book.
Cindi P.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After hearing two people I respect recommend this book, I decided to read it. Glad I read it. Worth it.

J.B. Phillips starts off with people's destructive views of God, then their constructive views of God and then why he thinks Jesus represents to us the essence of God's character. I liked how he addressed his book to skeptics (who are willing to dig in and ask questions with an open mind and heart) and to believers. Although he wrote the book in the last century, it is amazing how people's view
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent little book that struck close to home, as such books should. J.B. Phillips writes with intelligent and psychologically-informed insight and realism.

Phillips (1906–1982) was an Anglican minister, most famous for his contemporary translation of the New Testament. Actually, there's a good story about that. Phillips had observed that young people were struggling to understand the King James Bible - he also believed that people's familiarity with the old text and its beautiful literary
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, christian-living
Good. I found some parts to be more engaging than others. While ultimately I agree with Phillips’ final conclusions, sometimes he lost me on the logic of how he got there. 3 1/2 stars.
Steve Hazell
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and thought provoking read. Favorite portions: 1. Descriptions of inadequate views of God; 2. Causes of real conviction of sin; 3. The logic of “A” and how the world would respond to him.
Jonathan Brooker
Jul 19, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 that I use regularly in teaching to provoke students to reflect critically on their own theol ...more
Ron Lohrbach
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it
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.

Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2007, christian
An excellent short book, outlining several fallacies that Christians (and others) often believe about God, followed by a straightforward and comprehensive outline of who God is. Recommended.
G Clay Leonard
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Succinct and thought-provoking, this book challenges misconceptions of God and of Christ following that we may not even realize we have accepted.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a self-proclaimed lover of books, especially those that have a capacity to speak across generations. So, it was with great appreciation that moments ago I closed the cover on this wonderful little work.

J.B. Phillips wrote Your God is Too Small in 1952 yet it remains imminently quotable for those grappling with 21st century objections to faith. His adept way of addressing the closed universe of modern thinking is striking for a number of reasons. Most notably, it is striking to hear his Chri
Anthony A
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I read books related to Christianity, I am grateful when the author teaches me something that I did not know or was not aware of. Mr. Phillips does this in a couple of places in the book and I added these learnings to my knowledge of God or His Son or the Holy Spirit or the Christian life or of evil. For example, in the interest of "knowing my enemy" and to understand Satan and evil, I have begun studying (on the side, so to speak) Satan and evil. On page 96 the author talks about evil: "Mo ...more
Aaron Ventura
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I would have rated this 5 stars if the the author had simply deleted the second half of the book.
This book is written in Two Parts: Part One-Destructive and Part Two-Constructive. Part 1 is a fabulous critique of the tiny god we claim to worship. I found this convicting and refreshing. Unfortunately Part 2 is too soft and has some puzzling sentences in it concerning Jesus and how we spoke about sin. I found myself surprised by Phillips unwillingness to take firm stands on things like the atoneme
Ciarán Crawley
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This short exposition starts very strongly. I found my view of God tested in comparison to the way Phillips states that the modern man limits God. However, the transition from what is small to a sort of apologetics is a little weak, especially when dealing with trying to deal with Jesus as "subject A". Jesus is too unique and transcendent, and Phillips (somewhat ironically) depicts his as too small. Outside of this exposition, Phillips finishes his argument for the sheer size of God strongly. I ...more
Timothy Baldwin
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To do this book any justice in a review, I need to go back and reread it. A few things stand out to me though. First, this doesn’t read like a devotional, like I anticipated. Rather, it is very much a theological and apologetical approach to why the Christian might not be seeing results in their lives. The title states as much. In short, the driving point behind this text is a simple one: we are putting God in a box and trying to define him and his nature by our own terms.

So, four stars. It’s co
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a Muslim who read the book to try and understand how a person of faith would critique others from within Christianity, or at least explore different ways a God-conscious justice praxis comes from it. This male-written book was 23 years old when it crossed my Southeast Asian feminist path, and the lens difference really shows. But as someone more exposed to Christian-phobes than Christians, I think what was most helpful about reading this is that I could just as easily better imagine how reli ...more
Pat aka Tygyr
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This little book (125 pgs in my edition), works to "Find a Meaningful, Constructive God". The author is deceased (1983) but was a canon of the Anglican church. As a Catholic I found the book to be very informative. My pastor had actually mentioned this book several times in homilies. He reads it at least once a year. I can see the benefit of that. There is a lot of information to absorb. If you are looking for a way to grow closer to God, this little book is one you should definitely read.
Sean Meade
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book quite a bit. I have always liked the title. Although its purpose was to be contemporary when it was published in 1961, it holds up pretty well and surprisingly few of his ideas come off as dated. The first half is a commonsense criticism of 'small' ideas of God while the second half constructs a contemporary view of Christianity that tries to cut through outdated, culturally-bound ideas.
Benny Alexander
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book was written almost 75 years ago, BUT none of the text is outdated. In this book, J. B. Phillips explains how our imagination about God is almost wrong and why it is not in alignment with His words. The book has pages full of profound thoughts. Easily in the list of my top 10 Books.
It is small, Just 140 pages, But I would like to read it again and again, I wish, at least once in 2 years, if I could.
Mark Seeley
I've had this hardback edition of Phillips' book on my bookshelf for years but have never read it. Until now. It is really a work that stands between C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and John Stott's Basic Christianity. It debunks rival God concepts to focus of the revelation of "focused" God in the person of Jesus Christ. What I particularly liked about this little book is Phillips writes with very little jargon, argot and cliche; not any "church-talk."
Tommy Kiedis
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
I would buy Your God is Too Small for J.B. Phillips treatment of "Unreal Gods." That was insightful, especially the phrase "parental hangover." Love that. His arguments for Christ are convincing, but feel bent toward the narrative of Scripture. Great for skeptics and agnostics who are willing, in a C.S. Lewis fashion, to give the idea of God and Christ fair thought. Much to commend.
Blue Weasel
Discussing topics of how narrow man's concept of god is. My thought is that even this writer's concept is too narrow. Man cannot put constructs around something they literally cannot understand or grasp the true concept of. While the book looks to expand people's thoughts on god, the mere writing of this book seems limited.
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I think that there are some good ideas in this book, but I was so put off by the writing style it was difficult to focus. It's like he tried to turn a magazine article into a book and had to just keep adding words! He used more commas in 128 pages than most authors use in 1000.
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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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