Have you ever felt like there were dark stains in the Bible that you were embarrassed about? In a new book by Joshua Ryan Butler, the Portland-area pastor speaks to three common stereotypes of God in his work “The Skeletons in God’s Closet.” Tackling the topics of hell, judgment, and holy war, Butler seeks to reframe our understanding of God in a modern world.
Butler sees these three tough topics differently than many in the more secular areas of the West Coast. He sees that God has mercy in hell, that judgment is incredibly gracious and just, and that holy war in the Old Testament is actually full of hope. Butler is up front in his philosophical framework, arguing from a place that God is good—regardless of our understanding.
What I appreciated about Butler’s works is that he did not shy away from these topics, but instead chose to paint the big caricatures first. Hell is a torture chamber with people begging to get out, Jesus is over the top in his judgments, and God is too violent (after all he ordered his people into genocide). He does not diminish objections, but systematically addresses them one by one in a gracious manner.
Butler does not leave it at diminishing opponents’ arguments though, what he does is so much greater. He chooses to offer something more productive through the reframing of arguments and constructing alternate narratives about God. He does take some interpretive license at times, so I would recommend doing your homework as you walk alongside Butler in his arguments.
For those who might be struggling with the harsher skeletons in the closet, I recommend Butler’s “The Skeletons in God’s Closet” for an open conversation on the dirty laundry of the Christian faith.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”