A Sketchy View of God

There are about a million ways to get God wrong. As the rap artist Andy Mineo once said, “God made you in his image and he didn’t ask you to return the favor.” It can be hard to just let God be God. And what does that even mean, after all?

The twentieth century pastor J.B. Phillips once wrote a book “Your God is Too Small” to confront misconceptions about God that were common in his time and place. I’m sure if he were alive today he could add several more. His friend C.S. Lewis once quipped, “Christians believe God himself has told us how to speak of him.” That’s really the antidote, to let God himself frame what we believe.

There are even worse options than having too small of a vision of God. We could flat out get him wrong. We could develop views that don’t line up with how he has revealed himself altogether. That would be a sketchy way to think about him. And sadly, a whole lot of us can be guilty. I know I’ve not been immune.

My new book Sketchy Views: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Sense of God unpacks how I’ve taught university students for several years to think about God. I often share fishing stories with them. I often fish in streams near our home in central Ohio. Fish in streams often gather in pools near currents where they look upstream for their next meal. Christians can learn from their example. We have a particular direction we should look for our sustenance: Scripture.

God has revealed how we should think about him. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. But it does show us where we should begin. The stream of orthodoxy flows in this direction, from God’s revelation to our lived experience.

We can make our personal opinion, our preferences, or our experiences the authority. But if God has revealed himself, as I believe he has, then those things shouldn’t be where we begin our thoughts about God. Scripture should help us interpret our emotions, not vice versa. By beginning with the Bible, we can begin to make sense of God, his world, and our place in it. That’s really the one way to start getting God right.