Monday, June 22, 2015

A More Christlike God by Bradley Jersak

About the book:
A More Christlike God (April 2015)

What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior?

Believers and atheists alike typically carry and finally reject the toxic images of God in their own hearts and minds. Even the Christian gospel has repeatedly lapsed into a vision of God where the wrathful King must be appeased by his victim Son. How do such good cop/bad cop distortions of the divine arise and come to dominate churches and cultures?

Whether our notions of 'god' are personal projections or inherited traditions, author and theologian Brad Jersak proposes a radical reassessment, arguing for A More Christlike God: a More Beautiful Gospel. If Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the radiance of God's glory and exact representation of God's likeness," what if we conceived of God as completely Christlike---the perfect Incarnation of self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love? What if God has always been and forever will be cruciform (cross-shaped) in his character and actions?

A More Christlike God suggests that such a God would be very good news indeed---a God who Jesus "unwrathed" from dead religion, a Love that is always toward us, and a Grace that pours into this suffering world through willing, human partners.

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About the author:

Brad Jersak (PhD) is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He is on faculty at Westminster Theological Centre (Cheltenham, UK), where he teaches New Testament and Patristics. He also serves as adjunct faculty with St Stephen's University (St. Stephen, NB). He is also the senior editor of CWR (Christianity Without the Religion) Magazine, based in Pasadena, CA.

Find Brad online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Margie’s Comments: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading A More Christlike God by Bradley Jersak, but as I read and processed what I was reading—this is not a “quick-read”—three scriptures came to mind:

[Christ] is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]. Colossians 1:15 amp

[Christ] is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature. Hebrews 1:3 amp

 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16 amp

The author begins the book by revealing some of the false images of God mankind has created. Then the discussion moves on to how Jesus is the exact image of God. He is the flesh that allows us to “see” God. Finally the images of a judgmental, even cruel, God that many of us have formed from the Old Testament are held up to the light of Jesus Christ’s character and shown to be false or, at least, misinterpretations of a whole.

While many of the conclusions Jersak comes to are mine as well, it was interesting to ponder the different means God uses to teach us more of Him, to give us a complete picture rather than a distortion based on too few facts. To understand more of why Bradley Jersak wrote A More Christlike God, read this interview that Litfuse did with the author:

When I finished reading the book, I came away with a sense of awe and a renewed belief in God’s love, mercy, and grace as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ. I know that these truths about God will remain with me for a very long time. Of course, no one will ever fully comprehend the enormity of God’s love in our short lifetimes, but then we will have all of eternity to rejoice in Him.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

About the author:

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter

About the book:
A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson, April 2015)

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor's story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day---With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she's stumbled into a charmed life---until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she's planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942---Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear---even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

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Margie's Comments: Kristy Cambron's A Sparrow in Terezin is the second book in her debut series, Hidden Masterpieces. I haven't read the first book, but I didn't find that an issue as I started to read this one for review. (But I will go back and read The Butterfly and the Violin now.) I certainly do understand the hype about the author's excellent debut novel and the corresponding publicity and excellent reviews this second book is now getting. Cambron's characters are well rounded, likeable, and immediately put into situations that evoked my sympathy right from the start. The book jumps from early World War II Poland to contemporary California, but the similarities of the battles Sera and Kaja face in fighting for their families bind them together. The theme of faith and hope and love is strong in both story lines, and I love the way the story jumps from the present time to the historical and back again. Cambron shows excellent facility in handling this type of novel and brings off a great and satisfying story. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.)