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Your God is Too Small

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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 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 meaningful and constructive God for ourselves.


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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 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 meaningful and constructive God for ourselves.

30 review for Your God is Too Small

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    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 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 denomination, heritage or community. They might deny it, but many conceive of God as approving their style (say, Baptist or Catholic) and disapproving others (Pentecostal or Reformed). God is so much bigger than that. The second half of the book is focused on constructing the God who is big enough. To do this, Philippis simply tells the story of the Incarnation, of God becoming flesh, and what this means. At first I found this a bit surprising in its simplicity, but I think that is the point: the big enough God is the one who becomes flesh, like we are, to save us. Overall, this little book is a good and helpful read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    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 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 the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Those who have turned away from the Christian tradition because of an inability to believe in, trust in, or love the God projected by Christians and their traditions should know that such views of God are the problem, not the God who is otherwise obscured by their caricature.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cindi P.

    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 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 Mere Christianity. Not that they are parallel, but that they both explore life and Christ and make it a genuine intelligent choice to follow in belief. This is not what I'd call mainstream cultural Christianity in it's appeal. This also felt very philosophical, so if you shy away from broad thoughts and big questions, this will not be your cup of tea. No matter how large a cup of tea you think you bring to the theology party. I will be thinking about several points for days and years to come. My kind of book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    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 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 the time of writing that's to be expected. Wish that he had written more but perhaps he said it all in one volume (Yes! I'm looking at YOU Will Willimon).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    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 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 views of God haven't changed much in some key aspects.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anthony A

    When I read books related to Christianity, I am grateful when the author teaches me something that I did not know or was not aware of. Mr. Phillips does this in a couple of places in the book and I added these learnings to my knowledge of God or His Son or the Holy Spirit or the Christian life or of evil. For example, in the interest of "knowing my enemy" and to understand Satan and evil, I have begun studying (on the side, so to speak) Satan and evil. On page 96 the author talks about evil: "Mo When I read books related to Christianity, I am grateful when the author teaches me something that I did not know or was not aware of. Mr. Phillips does this in a couple of places in the book and I added these learnings to my knowledge of God or His Son or the Holy Spirit or the Christian life or of evil. For example, in the interest of "knowing my enemy" and to understand Satan and evil, I have begun studying (on the side, so to speak) Satan and evil. On page 96 the author talks about evil: "Modern man has a lust for full explanation and habitually considers himself in no way morally bound unless he is in full possession of the facts. Hence, of course, the prevalence of non-committal agnosticism. Yet it would seem that Christ, God-become-Man, did not give men a full explanation of the origin and operation of the evil forces in this world. (It is perfectly possible that in our present space-time existence we could not comprehend it, anyway) But He did recognize evil as evil, not as a mere absence of good: He did, wherever He found it possible, destroy evil. He did indicate the lines along which evil could be defeated and He did talk of the positive resources which would be necessary for such defeat....." This book is very well written (originally published in 1961). I highly recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    This was my bed-time book and, frankly, couldn't remember anything that I'd read the next day so I gave it a three star rating when I finished it. Later, when I went to put the marked passages into my commonplace book, I was stunned at Phillip's depth of insight into sin, redemption and holiness. I'm glad I re-read them when I was wide awake! Here's just one example: "God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use Him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own This was my bed-time book and, frankly, couldn't remember anything that I'd read the next day so I gave it a three star rating when I finished it. Later, when I went to put the marked passages into my commonplace book, I was stunned at Phillip's depth of insight into sin, redemption and holiness. I'm glad I re-read them when I was wide awake! Here's just one example: "God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use Him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who is sincerely wanting to cooperate with His own purposes." And: "Heaven is not, so to speak, the reward for “being a good boy” (though many people seem to think so), but is the continuation and expansion of a quality of life which begins when a man’s central confidence is transferred from himself to God-become-man. This faith links him here and now with truth and love, and it is significant that Jesus Christ on more than one occasion is reported to have spoken of eternal life as being entered into now, though plainly to extend without limitation after the present incident we call life."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    A work of Christian apologetics that I found to be very sectarian and old fashioned. He points out several common concepts of God that are very limited, but the dogmatic Christian concept of God he then promotes is equally limited. Given the many positive reviews, however, this book still has value for orthodox Christians. J.S. Spong mentioned it several times with approval in his latest book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    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 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 value were obscuring the impact of the words and concepts. So he started work on a new translation - doing a lot of the work sitting in an air raid shelter while the Nazis pounded London. Publishers were reticent to touch it, until C.S. Lewis stepped in and persuaded his publisher. The book was very popular. That was in 1947. In 1952 he published what is probably his second best known book, 'Your God is Too Small' (still in print today - my copy is a lovely old 1953 edition - already the sixth edition just one year into its publishing history). The (apologetical) premise of the book is that when an individual reacts against the notion of God, they are invariably reacting against a particular limited construct of God (what/who God is). The full first half of the book is taken up with a critique of the 'Gods' we construct (ie the ones Phillips identified in the culture in which he was writing). The book is primarily a work of apologetics (ie an argument for the Christian faith). I don't know how effective it might be in that regard (apologetic approaches can be considered a bit iffy these days), but I can vouch for its incisiveness for me personally as someone who already holds a faith and believes that God exists. The fact of the matter is that we all have a personal construct of God - even those who identify as atheists, in arguing against God's existence, are responding to a particular picture, or version, of God. And this is no less true for Christians. Though he lands in a different place to Phillips, Pete Rollins does some insightful work on this in his book 'The Idolatry of God'. We all have our preferred angle on who or what God is, and the reasons (largely psychological / emotional) vary. These constructs need to be critiqued. I read through the descriptions of the various God-constructs (Resident Policeman, Parental Hangover, Grand Old Man, Meek-and-Mild, Absolute Perfection, Heavenly Bosom, God-in-a-Box, Managing Director, Second-hand God, Perennial Grievance, Pale Galilean, Projected Image and some other sundry ones (the names give a hint about each of these Gods, but you'd need to read the book to gain a better appreciation of each)) with happy enjoyment at his insights, tinged with cheerful smugness. Until I came to the description of the construct that I have most tended to worship... Absolute Perfection (aka 'the God of the 100 percent'), which included a description of the personality type for whom this is most problematic (ie mine). I read it one Saturday morning as I lay in bed feeling heavy and drained from normal life, those feelings that remind me of burnout, and then I cried. Then I got angry because in the very next section he critiqued the God I'm in danger of constructing in the wake of my deconstruction of the 100 percent God. He hones in on what he calls the 'heavenly bosom' (yes, he said 'bosom')... a place to hide from all life's demands and troubles (c.f. aforementioned burnout). It's a warm picture. Phillips's critique however is of escapism. He acknowledges and upholds the refuge and sanctuary of God but here, as in all instances, his main beef is with one dimensionality. Culturally, though by no means completely out of date, Phillips's list is of 1950s Britain. I might hazard the risk of positing some 21st century constructs - God the Vending Machine, God the Lifestyle Value-Addition, God the Moral Curmudgeon, God the Doting Daddy, God of My Personal Agenda, God the Universe... In church culture (and Phillips notes this), you could talk about God the Catholic, God the Presbyterian, God the Baptist, God the Pentecostal, God the [insert denomination here], God the Evangelical, God the Progressive, God the Liberal, God the Intellectual, God the Anti-Intellectual, God the [insert theological stream here]... I would also hazard to suggest that most (if not all) of these constructs have a thread of truth in them, but in and of themselves they're all too small... wizened and unhealthy. Phillips's move is to then posit, as the title of the book suggests by comparison, a God of vastly bigger scope than any of the constructs above. This is not a God of all-inclusiveness (as my statement above is at risk of suggesting) but rather a God of utterly profound and ultimately unsearchable mystery - a God that defies the scope of human comprehension. A God 'bigger', if you will, than the cosmos and our nous. Our tendency is always to limit and describe - this is one way we survive in the world. But we get stuck in our constructs and then they skew the way we see things. There are a lot of adamant claims for certainty in this world. And, might I say, the evangelists for Atheism and those who hold to Scientism (ie the belief that science has all the answers) are every bit as prone to this as the staunchest religious fundamentalist. Science is constantly dealing with mystery and the unknown. Many discoveries lead to bigger questions, and the universe functions in very strange ways. Beyond the realms of pop-scientific-certainty, scientists are keenly aware of their own limits and of the limits of understanding (I say this as an observer, rather than a scientific insider). Any human endeavour that presents itself with total adamancy is running the risk of overreaching itself. I digress from Phillips's thesis, to return: Phillips posits a God beyond all definition and construct. But how can a person know and respond to such a comprehension-defying God? We need something, or someone to focus on. Something or someone that doesn't simply reinforce our constructs, in fact something or someone that would actively critique them. Well, this is a Christian book, so it shouldn't come as a massive spoiler that Phillips posits Jesus Christ for this role. Christ, he argues, is God in focus. So in the second half of the book, Phillips presents the Christian message - the underlying thread is established and familiar by long use of the message. But Phillips has a wonderful knack (as was his intent with his contemporary translation of the Bible) at coming at things from an engaging and fresh angle. And, as with his critique of the God constructs, he's not afraid to challenge popularly held ideas. As I say, I can't guess at the efficacy of the argument for bringing a person to faith in Christ. But for me as an already Christian, it was a valuable and thought-provoking book - a needed critique of my preconceived ideas about God and a refresher on the gospel narrative, all done in a thorough-going but accessible style. Well worth the reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Benny Alexander

    The book was written almost 75 years ago, BUT none of the text is outdated. In this book, J. B. Phillips explains how our imagination about God is almost wrong and why it is not in alignment with His words. The book has pages full of profound thoughts. Easily in the list of my top 10 Books. It is small, Just 140 pages, But I would like to read it again and again, I wish, at least once in 2 years, if I could.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Hazell

    Interesting and thought provoking read. Favorite portions: 1. Descriptions of inadequate views of God; 2. Causes of real conviction of sin; 3. The logic of “A” and how the world would respond to him.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    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 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 contrary, I’m quite in agreement with the author that smug, complacent orthodoxy has no real place with God. Such people attempt an exhibition of love as a façade, which is only a pathetic travesty of the real thing. But clearly, even the most devout of us are far from perfect. The author reveals how those who make perfection their fetish become enslaved to rules and lose the joy of spontaneity. Others use their religion as a shield, to separate themselves from the stresses of life, retreating into their religion as one might retreat into a spa. The author describes the “escapist” Christian as one who is constantly in the bosom of Christ, imagining Christ to be cuddling them, while in reality Christ is truly asking them to go out and do for others. God doesn’t want people to be stunted, pale, and weak, but full of vitality and courage, empowered with the Holy Spirit, confronting evil whenever possible. As ineffective and corrupt as it may be, the Christian church is the most organized form of Christianity and every cause has to be organized to be effective. Even though we observe misconceptions of Christianity, as are cited above, we cannot abandon the ship. We must evangelize both inside and outside our Churches, always working to reveal the real God. Revelation is progressive and we must be patient. We have within our churches many who are beholden to a negative God, as a result of their upbringing, which has given them a morbid, legalistic attitude. For such people, the Old Testament means much more than the New. These people see religion as some sort of contract under which they obey certain rules in exchange for God faithfully looking after their interests. Such people have yet to understand and appreciate the revolutionary accomplishment of God’s invasion of the world through Christ. Those who see God in this way are merely worshipping themselves, their self-potential, glamour, power, success, efficiency, or money. Their narrow minded attitudes deny them the freedom to enjoy all of the beauty that exists outside of their own immediate paradigm. It is life-changing when our conception of God becomes something higher than a simple magnification of our own good qualities. We must understand that the intention and capacity of God extends very much beyond ourselves. God is no respecter of persons. It is by their fruits that men shall be known, not by how self-disciplined they are or by how high their stack of worldly wealth. You are greatly mistaken if you somehow think that your success stems from God’s special favor for you and those like you. The author asserts: there is no provision for a “privileged class” in genuine Christianity. In contrast, you are quite on target if you recognize that all men are brethren born forth of inanimate matter, of mere dust, but bearing within a spark of God. This spark may be kindled into a perpetual flame. We are here to build that flame, to grow our spiritual selves, to become a spearhead of good against evil. In the time allotted to us in our physical existence we mature into our spiritual selves. As the body grows old and deteriorates, our spiritual selves may become increasingly stronger and stronger until, as the physical body fails, the spiritual being may have gained sufficient vitality to continue. On the contrary, those that never come to love and appreciate the spiritual side may never give birth to their spiritual selves; in much the same manner that a seed sown on hard, barren ground may never produce a plant. Those who discern the spiritual environment are reborn, erupting forth from a physical seed into a new spiritual being, erupting forth into the spiritual realm, just as a seed erupts from the dust into the sky. Such ones are in awe of the spiritual world, their spiritual persona, and the entire spectrum of God’s magnificence. We naturally want others around us to also wake up and see. We are dismayed at closed, unopened seeds languishing around us, enmeshed in barren ground. A ground that is made barren by human discord, dis-functional families , poverty, and ignorance. Our task then is to grow diligently to spiritual maturity and this task is accelerated when we nurture the fallow seeds all about us. Our efforts of compassion and philanthropy are therefore not wholly unselfish, as they increase the vitality of our spirit. Servant hood in the physical realm is an opportunity for us to gain increased vitality in the spiritual realm. The “spiritual” realm is of vastly greater importance than the material, but the vast majority of people do not recognize this. The present life is merely the prelude to the life of the spirit and the latter is reality. The former is but a transitory incident. When we come to see that the true nature of reality is spiritual, it changes our entire outlook upon the world. Christ provides the aperture through which we gain vision to the spiritual realm. The author paraphrases Christ in saying that if any man will come after me, let him deny his tendency to love himself, bear the cost of that denial, and live positively according to the principles I teach. Those who truly love and give themselves for others are more nearly reflecting Christ than anyone else. When Christ said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, it is as if he said: “Do as I do, be as I am, live as I live. I am the example for you. I am the personification of God in man. Accept me and accept God. Become a son of God as I am God’s son. Be my brother.” Hence, we come to see God as the center and everything else as derived from God. Seeing through this aperture brings the spiritual world into focus. We see that it is people, not things, that matter. The purpose of life clearly becomes to love God and others. This author suggests that the most serious sin is to restrict ones love energy from flowing out to God and to other people. To attempt to retain it all unto yourself is an act of diabolical selfishness. People exhibit self-love in their persistent narcissism, exploitation of others, pride, pedigree, and arrogance. Men are not isolated units. Every action of man affects other people. The multiplication of the effects of countless acts by millions of self-centered individuals is destroying the world. When a man suddenly realizes the hurt he does to others by his own self-centeredness, he becomes wholly changed. This may happen when he observes a child mimicking his self-destructive behavior, his parents growing old with worry for him, or when someone is killed by his negligence. Once wholly changed in this manner, a man will more readily sacrifice himself for others. But to what extent? Would any of us, like Christ, choose death for humanities sake? If not our life, what would we sacrifice for humanity? Would we eat less so that the starving could have more? Would we give of our time to benefit those in need? Would we give up our riches so others might have more? Our churches are full of people who verbally commit to such sacrifice but who continue to hoard their surplus resources. Where do you stand on this scale between self love and love for humanity? Christ was unique because he was flush with love for humanity and void of self love. Christ refused to modify God’s message the least little bit, even when the consequence was death. Could we ever do the same? Could we ever stand so firmly for the truth? Could we unequivocally stand forth as a Son of God no matter what was thrown at us? On the contrary, we typically acquiesce to self preservation when merely confronted with the social awkwardness of peer pressure. God’s message has endured for over 2000 years because Christ refused to mar or compromise God’s message to save his physical skin. The psychological impact with which Christ’s act of sacrifice engaged mankind was so great that it has endured for over 2000 years. Why? Because no other man has ever been capable of making such an unwavering, uncompromised sacrifice. The magnificence of Christ’s sacrifice is fully illuminated only when you compare it against your own miniscule and comparatively pathetic sacrifices. Perhaps the greatest sacrifice that you can make is to forgive any and all of those who have trespassed against you. Can you? Have you? We cannot understand how our sins are forgiven through Christ until we actually forgive others. Christ said: “except ye from your hearts forgive everyone his trespasses, neither will my heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses.” Once we ourselves forgive, we can then understand how God communicated to us, through the death and resurrection of Christ, that we are ourselves forgiven. We are forgiven when we abandon self love and embrace the love of all by joining Christ’s church and thereby becoming a part of Christ’s body, systematically sacrificing ourselves for others unto our physical death, upon which we shall live further as a spirit, as Christ has persisted in the spirit. Modern proof of Christ’s resurrection exists in the presence of Christ today in the hearts and minds of millions. It is undeniable that Christ exists now in spirit because so many are affected by Christ. A man can cry out to Christ today and receive spiritual reinforcement and vitality. Similarly, we who see the spiritual world will ourselves be sustained after death, not as we are now, but in spirit. Millions around the world constantly attest to the presence of spirits. The resurrection of Christ, and ultimately ourselves, is therefore not deniable. In fact, death may be a completely negligible experience to those who have already begun to live life of the eternal quality. A very important question is: what impact will we have in the physical world while we are temporarily in the physical realm? Will we lament that we didn’t do more while we had the physical hands and feet to do it? Or will we peer back into the physical world, satisfied that we contributed to progressing and moving the physical world forward toward what God wants it to be? Will we have spent our God-given time in the physical world doing God’s work or piling up luxuries for ourselves that we can’t even take back into the spiritual realm? How magnificent it must have been for Christ to return to the spiritual world, having effectuated such a great revelation in the history of the physical world? Will we lament that we wasted our time pursuing physical distractions, having returned empty handed, or will we be able to point to changes that we inflicted to the physical realm by our actions? For it was by actions that Christ influenced the world and so it will be by actions that you or I will so influence it! Be a spearhead of advance against the massed ignorance, selfishness, evil, and apathy of the majority of the human race! Be a pioneer for a new world order.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    I've read this classic little book by J.B. Phillips several times, but apparently not since I joined Good Reads. It's an apologetic work somewhat similar to "Mere Christianity," by Phillips' contemporary Anglican, C.S. Lewis. Phillips is not as witty as Lewis, but he uses the same earthy, conversational, logical approach. "Your God" probably is best known for Phillips' dismissal of various forms of God-in-a-box, such as "Resident Policeman" or "Grand Old Man." That's in Part One, but I think Par I've read this classic little book by J.B. Phillips several times, but apparently not since I joined Good Reads. It's an apologetic work somewhat similar to "Mere Christianity," by Phillips' contemporary Anglican, C.S. Lewis. Phillips is not as witty as Lewis, but he uses the same earthy, conversational, logical approach. "Your God" probably is best known for Phillips' dismissal of various forms of God-in-a-box, such as "Resident Policeman" or "Grand Old Man." That's in Part One, but I think Part Two is stronger, particularly when Phillips writes about "clues to reality," such as our appreciation of beauty and goodness, and our common search for truth. He's also strong on his arguments for the historical evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus. Again, some of his arguments are similar to Lewis'. He raises one point that I don't believe Lewis did raise: If Jesus wasn't raised from the dead, why is it that so many Christians are certain that He did, and that He still is alive today: Men and women by the thousands today are convinced that the One whom they serve is not a heroic figure of the past but a living Personality with spiritual resources upon which they can draw. A man may find difficulty in writing a poem, but if he cries, "Oh, William Shakespeare, help me!" nothing whatever happens. A man may be terribly afraid, but if he cries, "Oh, Horatio Nelson, help me!" there is no sort of reply. But if he is at the end of his moral resources or cannot by effort of will muster up sufficient positive love and goodness and he cries, "Oh, Christ, help me!" something happens at once. "Your God is Too Small" is a small book that's worth reading a number of times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jemima

    What a gold nugget of a little book! It not only lays out the different ways people tend to create God in their own image (reminds me of 'you thought I was one like yourself' Psa 50:21), but also answers same basic questions of the Christian faith and makes a defense for it. It is very readable, simply written and has several well-constructed sentences. Note to self: Put this book on my high school reading list. What a gold nugget of a little book! It not only lays out the different ways people tend to create God in their own image (reminds me of 'you thought I was one like yourself' Psa 50:21), but also answers same basic questions of the Christian faith and makes a defense for it. It is very readable, simply written and has several well-constructed sentences. Note to self: Put this book on my high school reading list.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I am a self-proclaimed lover of books, especially those that have a capacity to speak across generations. So, it was with great appreciation that moments ago I closed the cover on this wonderful little work. J.B. Phillips wrote Your God is Too Small in 1952 yet it remains imminently quotable for those grappling with 21st century objections to faith. His adept way of addressing the closed universe of modern thinking is striking for a number of reasons. Most notably, it is striking to hear his Chri I am a self-proclaimed lover of books, especially those that have a capacity to speak across generations. So, it was with great appreciation that moments ago I closed the cover on this wonderful little work. J.B. Phillips wrote Your God is Too Small in 1952 yet it remains imminently quotable for those grappling with 21st century objections to faith. His adept way of addressing the closed universe of modern thinking is striking for a number of reasons. Most notably, it is striking to hear his Christ-centered worldview delivered in such pastoral tones. In an age of intellectual rage like today's pop culture trumpets, this work's gentle voice is a comforting reprieve. Phillips points to the deficiencies of modernity without raising a hand of acrimony. He speaks of the need for true reality (i.e., eternity) to invade our limited time-space world by meeting our need for true love (not the self-love that depicts most searches for contemporary meaning). Furthermore, He powerfully demonstrates how this invasion was first seen in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. The first half of this work begins with a careful deconstruction of popular notions concerning God. Again, Phillip's way of nuancing his critiques helps the reader to lower personal defenses and journey with him. This is important because his critiques are not simply directed at secular society but also at the Church who often perpetuates a diluted theology robbed of its true vitality. Principally, He argues that God is imminently here and prepared to transform our lives from self-centered living to that higher existence of life-giving love. Love God and love others are the constant appeals. There were several prescient moments for me when Phillips speaks of the "idol of 100 percent" that is nothing more than a humanly contrive perfectionism that places the emphasis on performance for God instead of faith in God. He also unveils the destructive force of what he calls "second-hand god" - an idea similar to deism that interprets our fallen world as indictment against God because He seems absent in human history. I could go on with the insights gleaned but I think you get the picture of what I'm saying. This book is a sober assessment of the faith walk. It is not embedded in sensationalized language nor sermonic tones. It requires pauses to ponder and absorb what is being said. There are moments when you find his comments rather commonplace. This is due in part to the fact that over the past fifty years many ministers have used the concepts of this book to craft their messages for a modern audience. What I challenge you to do with this book is to patiently walk through the pages. If your mind wants to tell you, "I've heard this before" then force yourself to continue. This is not soundbite theology. This is one of those classic texts that others have generously borrowed from without citing their source. Take the time to hear the original work and see what it says to you about the beauty of our faith in Christ. I think you will enjoy the benefits of such an effort.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Brooker

    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. 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. And more importantly it was nearly impossible to not look at it as reading into what the gospels already say of Jesus and then saying, "If God were to come into this world, this is how He'd have to act and live." I'm a believer, but any skeptic would see that as arguing your point backwards with what you already believe. It just wasn't necessary for the message of the book, in my opinion. But other than that it was a rather enjoyable read with a great look at how vast our God is, how we ought to respond to His greatness, and how the coming of Jesus as God into this world gives us opportunity to see exactly how we can live in response and relationship to a great God.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Ventura

    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 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 atonement and what happens in it. We cannot have a great and glorious God without diving into the uncomfortable parts of Scripture that teach sovereign grace.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Liy

    I’m a Muslim who read the book to try and understand how a person of faith would critique others from within Christianity, or at least explore different ways a God-conscious justice praxis comes from it. This male-written book was 23 years old when it crossed my Southeast Asian feminist path, and the lens difference really shows. But as someone more exposed to Christian-phobes than Christians, I think what was most helpful about reading this is that I could just as easily better imagine how reli I’m a Muslim who read the book to try and understand how a person of faith would critique others from within Christianity, or at least explore different ways a God-conscious justice praxis comes from it. This male-written book was 23 years old when it crossed my Southeast Asian feminist path, and the lens difference really shows. But as someone more exposed to Christian-phobes than Christians, I think what was most helpful about reading this is that I could just as easily better imagine how religious trauma could play out from within Christianity just as I could also better imagine the enthusiasm of a science-loving Christian who could agree with me when we talk about God.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    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 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 theological imagination.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ron Lohrbach

    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. Ron 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. Ron

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Seeley

    I've had this hardback edition of Phillips' book on my bookshelf for years but have never read it. Until now. It is really a work that stands between C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and John Stott's Basic Christianity. It debunks rival God concepts to focus of the revelation of "focused" God in the person of Jesus Christ. What I particularly liked about this little book is Phillips writes with very little jargon, argot and cliche; not any "church-talk." I've had this hardback edition of Phillips' book on my bookshelf for years but have never read it. Until now. It is really a work that stands between C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and John Stott's Basic Christianity. It debunks rival God concepts to focus of the revelation of "focused" God in the person of Jesus Christ. What I particularly liked about this little book is Phillips writes with very little jargon, argot and cliche; not any "church-talk."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    G. Clay

    Succinct and thought-provoking, this book challenges misconceptions of God and of Christ following that we may not even realize we have accepted.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ninke

    Wow!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

    "You can never have too big a conception of God," writes Phillips (135) in this short book originally published in 1952. To discuss this, the first half of the book enumerates and describes a list of false views of God--i.e., He's mild, He's what your dad was like, He's what a book you read made Him seem like, He's out to get you, He's a projection of yourself, etc. There are probably endless misconceptions or incomplete perceptions of God, but Phillips manages to hit on enough of them to resona "You can never have too big a conception of God," writes Phillips (135) in this short book originally published in 1952. To discuss this, the first half of the book enumerates and describes a list of false views of God--i.e., He's mild, He's what your dad was like, He's what a book you read made Him seem like, He's out to get you, He's a projection of yourself, etc. There are probably endless misconceptions or incomplete perceptions of God, but Phillips manages to hit on enough of them to resonate with almost anyone. He goes through each view and argues why it's wrong. Example, speaking of the "mild" view of God: "We hear, or read, of someone who was 'a real saint: he never saw any harm in anyone and never spoke a word against anyone in all his life.' If this is really a Christian saintliness then Jesus Christ was no saint. It is true that He taught men not to sit in judgement upon one another, but He never suggested that they should turn a blind eye to evil or pretend that other people were faultless" (27). Another: thinking God is your flavor of worship. "No denomination has a monopoly of God's grace, and none has an exclusive recipe for producing Christian character" (40). While the first half deconstructs what Phillips deems wrong or incomplete views, the second half seeks to build an appropriate view back up for the reader. It's like a mini apologetic for God and basics about Him. Overall, lots of helpful content, but kind of a big task for 60ish pages--perhaps why this half seemed weaker to me. I also found myself disagreeing with certain opinions and wishing for more explanation or argument (Scripture, especially), so I could see where he was coming from better.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    What a challenging review! As many reviewers have noted, the book is essentially two separate sections. Part One illustrates 'destructive' traits, and Part Two 'constructive'. These 'traits' as I am calling them fall into two completely different approaches. The traits J. B. Phillips' refers to as 'destructive' are more "Ways to view God" than views of God, directly. This first part is very enlightening, and applies to almost anything, especially any religion. So often, people will go through the m What a challenging review! As many reviewers have noted, the book is essentially two separate sections. Part One illustrates 'destructive' traits, and Part Two 'constructive'. These 'traits' as I am calling them fall into two completely different approaches. The traits J. B. Phillips' refers to as 'destructive' are more "Ways to view God" than views of God, directly. This first part is very enlightening, and applies to almost anything, especially any religion. So often, people will go through the motions of their experiences, traditions, guilt, etc... and the author illustrates these well in contrast to a healthy view of, in this case, God. The second part is completely different as a 'constructive' label on a very narrowing dogma on a very specific, substitutionary atonement theology. It is disappointing that such a great start completely shifts gears to illustrate the same narrow, exclusionary, and exclusively Christian view of a very large and all encompassing God! There are a few valuable insights, such as on the Beatitudes, but mostly just the same, overdone "believe in God to save yourself" theology, albeit very well done. The challenge in rating: This book was first published in 1952, which was a very different world with very different understandings of faith, history and literature. By itself, this book is not helpful other than yet again reinforcing one's very small, and playing one note form of faith. There are MUCH better books - and theologies - which engage one to not only see a truly larger God, but also a much broader and more universal way of being in renewing relationship.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Huff

    There were parts I found quite good, and other parts I either didn't understand, or didn't think he proved. I think this was possibly my favorite and most challenging quote from the book: The man who is outside all organized Christianity may have, and often does have, a certain reverence for God, and a certain genuine respect for Jesus Christ...But what sticks in his throat about the Christianity of the Churches is not merely their differences in denomination, but the spirit of "churchiness" which There were parts I found quite good, and other parts I either didn't understand, or didn't think he proved. I think this was possibly my favorite and most challenging quote from the book: The man who is outside all organized Christianity may have, and often does have, a certain reverence for God, and a certain genuine respect for Jesus Christ...But what sticks in his throat about the Christianity of the Churches is not merely their differences in denomination, but the spirit of "churchiness" which seems to pervade them all. They seem to him to have captured and tamed and trained to their own liking Something that is really far too big ever to be forced into little man-made boxes with neat labels upon them. The only parts I generally didn't like were when the author did the very thing he challenged us not to do. He seemed to put God in a box himself. For example, he wrote: "God is truly Perfection, but He is no Perfectionist..." His point was that God allows sinners such as us into His Kingdom. But my qualm with this statement is that God IS a Perfectionist. He will make us perfect in His time. So I would say to the author, "Your God is too small." Nevertheless, this short book does a great job in in causing the reader to think. Even when the reader comes to different conclusions on some points, I think we can all be stretched in our understanding of God, who is beyond our understanding.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ciarán Crawley

    This short exposition starts very strongly. I found my view of God tested in comparison to the way Phillips states that the modern man limits God. However, the transition from what is small to a sort of apologetics is a little weak, especially when dealing with trying to deal with Jesus as "subject A". Jesus is too unique and transcendent, and Phillips (somewhat ironically) depicts his as too small. Outside of this exposition, Phillips finishes his argument for the sheer size of God strongly. I This short exposition starts very strongly. I found my view of God tested in comparison to the way Phillips states that the modern man limits God. However, the transition from what is small to a sort of apologetics is a little weak, especially when dealing with trying to deal with Jesus as "subject A". Jesus is too unique and transcendent, and Phillips (somewhat ironically) depicts his as too small. Outside of this exposition, Phillips finishes his argument for the sheer size of God strongly. I would recommend this book, especially to those who have been wrapped up in Christian culture: especially as we dont wonder often enough for ourselves just how big God is.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Baldwin

    To do this book any justice in a review, I need to go back and reread it. A few things stand out to me though. First, this doesn’t read like a devotional, like I anticipated. Rather, it is very much a theological and apologetical approach to why the Christian might not be seeing results in their lives. The title states as much. In short, the driving point behind this text is a simple one: we are putting God in a box and trying to define him and his nature by our own terms. So, four stars. It’s co To do this book any justice in a review, I need to go back and reread it. A few things stand out to me though. First, this doesn’t read like a devotional, like I anticipated. Rather, it is very much a theological and apologetical approach to why the Christian might not be seeing results in their lives. The title states as much. In short, the driving point behind this text is a simple one: we are putting God in a box and trying to define him and his nature by our own terms. So, four stars. It’s compelling enough to make me want to reread it, especially since I put it down four a lengthy period of time before picking it back up.

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