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Your God is Too Small

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,050 ratings  ·  89 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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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.
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
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living, own
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.
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
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: christian, read-2007
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.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Paula Parker
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Even though it was written over 50 years ago, the issues addressed in this book made it seem as if it were written recently. This book is a must read for people who want to grow in their walk with the Lord.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Interesting and entertaining first half describing inadequate, but popular, views of God. Develops in second half a theology for God and Christ in popular, but somewhat dry, language.
Diana Grace
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was pretty interesting in the first part but the second part was.... NOT the greatest. Didn't really enjoy it much to be honest

2.5 stars
Matt Sears
I remember thinking this book was great when I first read it 20 some years ago. This time through it didn't do much for me. I couldn't even remember what had moved me so much then.
Anita Tally
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Even though the book is almost 50 years old, it offers some fresh insights. I'm glad I read it.
Adam L Feldman
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-lit
Good read. A bit dated in references, but a classic nonetheless.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written book. A good reminder of how surprising and world-changing the good news of Christ really is.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A small book (124 pages), but very powerful. A must-read for all Christians.
Emmanuel Boston
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Karl El-Koura
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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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
“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.” 3 likes
“There easy answer to the evil and suffering problem and no easy road to its solution. But Christ tackled the matter radically and realistically by winning the allegiance of a few men and women to a new way of living...They were to be the spearhead of good against evil.” 2 likes
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