Quote #13 — God as He Is


A Sunset over Cape Cod Bay; photo by GAC

“But how far removed from the idea of the New Testament are the insipid words of the hymn which says, ‘He came sweet influence to impart, a gracious willing guest,’ and goes on to say, ‘and his that gentle voice we hear, soft as the breath of even, that checks each fault, that calms each fear . . . .’  Anyone who has any experience at all of the living God knows that he is nothing at all like this Somebody who tut-tuts politely at our failings and lays a soothing hand upon our anxious little heads.  The God who lives in us if we allow him, is not necessarily always gentle: he can be wind and fire and a whole lot of other things.  He can give us strength, but he can also show us our weakness!  He will ‘increase our faith,’ but frequently not in the way we want or expect.  He will show us, as we can bear it, more and more truth, but he will shatter our illusions without scruple, perhaps especially illusions about ourselves.  He will give us moments of wonderful perception, but will also allow us to endure terrifying darkness.  His dealings with us are not some optional religious game; he is in deadly earnest and he is intent on ‘bringing many sons to glory.’  He is indeed all goodness and light, but he will show no more compunction towards the evil things that we have allowed to grow in our hearts than a human surgeon would to a malignant growth.  The men of old were hardly exaggerating when they said, ‘Our God is a consuming fire.'”

J. B. Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator’s Testimony.
New York: the Macmillan Company, 1967, p. 43

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