Saints in the Arms of a Happy God

I’ve been reading this book on and off for the last few months, dipping in here and there to read a little more of this revolutionary stuff.

In the book, which is ideally suited for mention on my blog – since I half-jokingly call it my ‘Heresy Blog‘ – its author, Jeff Turner, examines in detail the theology behind many of the presuppositions of (particularly) Evangelical and Calvinist theological ideas. He dares to ask questions, and challenge the status quo; something that many theologians – myself included – are doing in these days. We are asking the questions ‘why?’, ‘why do we believe that?’ and ‘are you sure about that?’ Questions that many Christian streams have ignored, brushed under the carpet or, worse, treated as forbidden questions – usually because they challenge the assumptions and power of those in charge. And this is exactly what Jesus did….

Using the security of relationship with Jesus as a solid basis, it is actually perfectly safe to ask awkward questions. Those who dare not ask them are actually, sadly, those with a weaker faith because they feel that their faith may be threatened by new knowledge, or that they may be rejected by their fellows because they might have to concede that they actually believe something different. But surely that’s the nature of the walk of faith; you never really arrive at the end because you are constantly learning new things about God, and some of those things may contradict what you were so sure you believed earlier.

The title is a parody of the title of a famous hellfire-and-damnation sermon called ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, by one Jonathan Edwards, an eighteenth-century American Revivalist preacher.

I’m sure that┬áMr. Edwards believed most sincerely in what he was preaching – he was indeed a humble, Godly and thoughtful man – but the ideas he espoused (along with those of a similar persuasion; we can’t blame it all on Mr. Edwards!) have caused significant shifts in humanity’s perception of the Godhead, His relationship to us (and ours with Him) and in the subsequent credibility of the Church and its major doctrines. In this book, Jeff Turner challenges many of the the deeply-held doctrines of modern Christianity which are supposed to be Scripture-based, but, Turner says, are in fact incorrect. The modern-day image of an angry God as presented by Edwards et al is nothing at all like the God Whom the writers of the New Testament knew. This book is a well-reasoned treatise on how God has been misrepresented down the years as an angry, implacable Dictator – and this is one reason why I write so much on just how good God is. I’m just so fed up with Him being dissed in this way. In fact I’ve quoted from ‘Saints’ before on this blog, in a similar context.

Anyway, I would like to let you have a look at a review of the book by my friend David Matthew; far better for a scholarly man like him to give such a good book a decent review. For what it’s worth, I concur with just about every point that David makes in his review.

Click the book cover image below to go to David’s review. There are also links on that page to Amazon (UK) where you can buy the book; at the time of writing, the Kindle version is only a couple of pounds.

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