How can a loving God send people to Hell?
Why is there so much violence in the Old Testament, that God seems to have okayed?
Isn’t it arrogant and closed-minded to believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and God?
The ideas of hell, judgment and a holy war; these are what we might call “the skeletons in God’s closet.” These are the issues that Christians are very hesitant to answer. Either because we don’t know the answers and feel that ignoring the questions will make them go away or because we don’t like the answer that we have been taught or given, so we do not say anything. Rather than investigate these potential skeletons, we run and hide, only to realize that these skeletons are still there. They still need answering.
Can these and the many more questions people have about these topics actually be answered? Could they be addressed in a biblical way that doesn’t portray a sadistic, torturing God? Could things like the reality of hell and sin not be sugarcoated but explained in a way that shows that our God of love isn’t a cold hearted Judge, or a genocidal maniac?
Enter Joshua Butler and his new book, The Skeletons in God’s Closet.
Rather than sugarcoat things, rather than ignore the difficult issues that people have with hell, judgment and the holy way, Butler attacks them head on.
Written with a simple storyteller structure and the language of an artist or poet, Butler sifts through the caricatures, the false images of God that seem to be most prominent in pop culture, and reveals the truth that Scripture speaks.
Joshua Butler reveals the truth that God is not an angry tyrant, hell bent on punishment rather, that God is determined to redeem His people and His Earth. He explores the truth that God is not a pious judge seeking sinner’s destruction, but rather that God is seeking out those who desire a life of abundance and shalom, and calling them to Himself. Butler examines the truth that God is not a madman, that God is not seeking to destroy the Earth, that God is not what most people believe that He is. God is something quite different, something completely separate from the caricatures we make up.
The Skeletons in God’s Closet takes you on an amazing journey, through the caricatures and misunderstandings about God, the purpose and function of hell, His judgment and the coming holy war, and offers all readers something refreshing.
Whether the reader is a Christian or not, The Skeletons in God’s Closet will show you that through it all…
“God is good in his very bones: not just in what he dos, but in who he is; not only in his actions, but in his character.”
“The Mercy of Hell, The Surprise of Judgment, The Hope of Holy War”
That is the tag line on the top of the book, and that is enough to shock most Christians. For some, they will be shocked and think that such ideas are foolish and reject Butler’s book outright. For others, such as myself, that tag line will intrigue you and draw you into a wonderful adventure through the Scriptures. What I found, beyond the shocking tag line, was nothing short of refreshing.
Often when Christians speak about such apocalyptic topics, like hell, judgment and a cosmic spiritual war, there is either a sense of dread or a sense of self righteousness. Dread, because they are fearful and unsure as to what will happen. Self righteousness, because they feel assured that they know exactly what God will do and that they have perfectly secured their place in Heaven.
When Joshua Butler talks about these topics in his book, there is neither a sense of dread or any self righteousness. In their place is a genuine humbleness, often pointing to himself as a member of the sinful mankind, and the people that are desperately in need of a Saviour. He does speak with a confidence about what will transpire, not necessarily a map of what end times events happen when, but a knowledge that God will come and establish His Kingdom on the Earth.
The ideas that Butler presents are not new ones, they are ancient in fact, but they will ruffle the tail feathers of the more traditional understanding Christians. For example, to discuss hell, not only as a place but also as a power on the Earth today may be too much for some Christians to wrap their heads around.
For the learners and the seekers, The Skeletons in God’s Closet is a welcome piece that opens up our minds and hearts to see these often hidden topics brought to light, exposing the joy and gladness that they have always held.
My only complaint is that there were some questions that arose while reading through the book that were not immediately answered. In the case of Hell as a power or place, Butler waits until the Appendix to address the issue. I’m glad that he didn’t ignore it all together, I simply would have preferred the explanation before I finished the book.
That single issue aside, The Skeletons in God’s Closet is a wonderful read. Challenging and enlightening, Joshua Butler tears down the pop culture caricatures while exalting the Redeeming God. Butler reveals the truth in a simplistic way for all audiences, so that they may know that God has no skeletons in His closet. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”