Book Review: The Pursuing God

The Pursuing God – Joshua Ryan Butler, W Publishing Group

  • Critical read
  • Must read
  • Good read
  • Read if you want
  • Read something else

Why read “The Pursuing God.”  A couple of years ago, I saw this book described on a website (not remembering where), and for some reason it stuck out it me as an important read.  I have learned that when the Holy Spirit points something out to me, I need to follow up on it.  I ordered up a copy. 

And there it sat on my shelf for a while.  This happens to me often, by the way.

I finally got around to reading about a year ago and was quite pleasantly surprised by it. The book is one of the most well-researched books on the work of God in us and among us I have seen.  Written as part apologetic, part introduction to our God and His work among us, and part an explanation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the book covers these themes in surprising thoroughness and detail.

Not a quick or an easy read, it is nonetheless a good read.  It covers the key points of the Christian faith with a depth and detail so often missing in today’s consumer-driven publishing world.  Yet, it is not a “dumbed-down” approach to the vital truths of the Gospel and the revelation of God across history.  Given that it is a bit of a deeper dive, both the scope and the readability are impressive. 

Butler is a scholar, but he is not scholarly in his writing style.  He makes a steady, measured case for the truth of the fact that our God has always been pursuing us.  Just as He relentlessly pursues us in a way that is approachable and winsome, so Butler’s book pursues to the truth of our God’s pursuit in a way that is approachable and winsome.  Not a small accomplishment for a book that spans the breadth and length of God’s dealings with humanity.

At nearly 300 pages of content, it is not for those who are accustomed to easy and quick reads.  I gave it a “good read” and not a “must read” solely because I know that many snack-bite readers would not endure it.  Hint: if you like to read deeper dive books, this moves up to a “must read.”

The point of the book: Our God is not “up there,” “out there,” and inapproachable.  He is walking among us daily, seeking us to the point of pursuit.  He loves us, and His relentless pursuit of us is born out of that love.  He desires each of us to come into intimate communion with Himself and has been setting the stage for that relationship for all of human history.  The signs of His passing among us and His intent to draw us into Himself are clear if we will understand look with an open and receptive heart.

The impact of the book: Butler’s deeply researched effort here does not disappoint the scholarly instincts in me.  Nor does it disappoint the devotional flow and intimate character of my relationship with my God.  This is a solid scholarly effort cleverly disguised as an approachable guide into the presence of our God. You will come away with a deeper theological foundation for both faith in God and loving gratitude for His enormous effort in pursuing each one of us to be joined with Himself.

Quote:  From p. 189-190, on “Why God Creates:”

“This confronts the caricature of our Creator as a large, lonely giant kicking the cosmic curb and sullenly assaying, “I wish I had some friends!”  Some people seem to envision God making the world because He’s bored and needs some buddies.  There’s a kind of codependency in this [picture, where
God is like that needy date who uses you to try and fill that hole inside or fix an identity crisis.  And a codependent Creator will quickly resort to manipulations and guilt-tripping to get what He wants.

A needy God quickly becomes an obsessive stalker.

But God doesn’t create us because He needs us; He creates us because He wants us.  The Father, Son, and Spirit already have the perfect relationship from eternity.  They share affection, intimacy, and joy.  They not only experience life, light and love; they are life, light, and love.  God is not just a being; God is Being, the ground of our existence.  The Trinity creates the world in divine freedom, not to fill a need within but from an overflow of their divine love.  We are each made as creatures to lavish their affection upon.  They are not trying to get something from us; they are giving themselves to us.

Divine love gives birth to creation.”

This is book an amazing treatment of the central point and theme of all of our God’s work in the history of the human race, the ongoing and perfect effort to bring us into union and communion with Himself, the Triune God. 

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