The Deity Formerly Known as God
To understand who God really is, we need to align our images of God with the truth found in the Bible. The Deity Formerly Known as God helps readers release the destructive images they’ve created of God while embracing the constructive images shown in Scripture.
The Deity Formerly Known as God is an attempt to recapture the spirit and power of J. B. Phillips’s original work for the days we find ourselves in. In keeping with Phillips’s two-part structure, the first half of this book uncovers a few of the destructive images of God we’ve created, while the second half of the book explores some constructive images Jesus used to describe God. Perhaps the greatest difference between Phillips’s work and this project is that the constructive images here draw heavily on the vivid, unexpected, and downright shocking manner in which Jesus described God. The images Jesus used are so much better than any of my flannel graph flashbacks.
His words are alive, challenging, common, and yet somehow beyond anything we’d ever expect. After all, you’ve got to figure that if anyone knew God or knew how to talk about him, it had to be Jesus.
Throughout this book, you’ll find that I tell a lot of stories. I love stories. Some of the stories are from the Bible, some are from my life. These are the stories that I know.
They serve as small illuminators of great truth to me. I don’t propose for a second to know all of the answers to the questions that have arisen on this journey or that might arise from this book, only the stories that have led me to this point and the stories that lead me back to God.
My hope is that by exploring and wrestling with the images of God found in this book, you will begin to work through your own broken and destructive images and arrive at a healthy, life-giving, mind-blowing, heart-expanding experience with God. That’s the destination. How you get there though is entirely up to you. This book works less like a recipe and more like a menu. So feel free to chart your own path for how you travel through these pages.
This introduction (which you are conveniently reading) is the only chapter you need to read before reading any of the following chapters in their respective sections. If it helps to read chapter by chapter, go for it. If you want to skip ahead and just read part 2, be my guest. Maybe you’ll want to reflect on it privately, or maybe you’ll want to talk about it with some friends over a cup of coffee, or both. It’s really up to you. I’m not here to tell you how to read it.
My hope is that in some way, this book will help you begin to realize that God is and always has been so much greater, more powerful, and more amazing than our little minds can comprehend and than a little book like this can contain. And I hope you’ll see that the ancient promise of Jeremiah 29:13 still holds true today: that if you will seek out the real God, not only will you find him, but in so doing, you will find the real you as well.