Thinking Out Loud

November 9, 2012

The Preposition Proposition: Skye Jethani

Regular readers here will know that over the course of the late spring and summer, I discovered Skye Jethani through the Phil Vischer podcast, in the sense that the explorers discovered North America, even though North America had been rolling along quite fine without their observation. Actually rediscovered is more accurate, since I had been aware of Skye’s writing at Out of Ur and Leadership Journal for at least six years.

Still, there’s something about being able to put a voice to someone’s writing. The new technology allows us to hear and see so many authors, and the impact of letting the author’s voice speak inside your head while your eyes scan their book or blog is possibly one of the internet’s greatest benefits.

So with that in mind I purchased — that’s right, not a review copy — Skye’s With: Reimagining The Way You Relate To God (Thomas Nelson, 2011).  Well, it was on sale, so I couldn’t resist, though I had made a mental note mid-summer to try to read one of his two titles, the other being The Divine Commodity.

With uses a series of prepositions to describe ways people try to control outcomes that we believe are determined by God, a god, or the gods. This desire for control, he says is rooted (initially) in fear. Although this premise has wide-ranging application to many religions, he focuses mostly on false perceptions existing within Christianity.

At this point, I have to agree with Scot McKnight’s endorsement of the book comparing it to J. B. Phillips’ Your God Is Too Small, albeit for a different generation. But where Phillips is focused on the adjectives in views that fall short or confuse God’s nature, With is more concerned with the verbs that describe the interaction between ourselves and God; what we are thinking and doing and attempting to manipulate outcomes.

But it’s actually prepositions he uses, describing life over God, life under God, life from God and life for God; all of these being inadequate or less-than-desirable or mostly just plain wrong illustrations of what we’re meant to live, which is life with God.

These models are somewhat different than things we’ve considered before, and Jethani reinforces each within each chapter. This may seem repetitious, but he does it with slight differences each time; and toward the end ties in a familiar scripture passage that he shows illustrates all four of the incorrect belief models.

Obviously, life with God is the one that is clearest, even if our day-to-day practices find us drifting into one of the wrong assumptions. I found myself returning to the early chapters in order to keep the distinctions clarified as I continued reading; and the use of hand-drawn diagrams attempts to aid that clarity.

Ultimately, this book is probably too philosophical for some, but this week as I talked to someone who is very intentionally seeking spiritual truth, I talked her into purchasing a copy as I believe she has been and continues to be bombarded with misguided concepts about how God desires us to relate to and connect with him. Pray for K. that the Christian literature she is reading will answer her objections and her hesitancy toward becoming a disciple.

…The sample selection from With that I used at Christianity 201 this week is a little different, but it reflects the different ways this book can get you thinking on a variety of levels.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Futureville and his most current book is With… Re-imagining the Way You Relate To God which I reviewed here. However, his first book, The Divine Commodity kept beckoning to me at the local Christian […]

    Pingback by The Commodification of Christianity | Thinking Out Loud — August 24, 2013 @ 8:44 am

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