Norris presents an approachable piece of theological reflection that challenges believers to embrace the unexpected complexity of the godhead.
Sometimes God seems to contradict himself. In the gospels, the angels herald “peace, good will towards men,” but Jesus says that he comes bearing a sword. At other times, the god of salvation seems to ask that his creatures suffer great evils. And while the biblical character Job reminds us that God “can do all things,” sometimes the deity seems unable to carry out even the most obvious of tasks. These apparent tensions have driven many away from the Christian faith, but not so for Norris. In his book, Norris asks believers to embrace these contradictions and allow themselves to be led through mystery to a deeper, more satisfying spirituality. For Norris, these seeming contradictions are instead paradoxes, devotional signposts indicating not that our concept of God is unreal or unworkable, but that it’s too small. Ultimately, Norris writes of a both/and God—a Yahweh who is almighty and vulnerable, just and merciful, stoic and empathetic, limited and limitless. And his book-length exploration of these dichotomies is intended to demonstrate how an appreciation of these paradoxes can both surprise and inspire. At the end of the day, Norris writes, “It’s just that sometimes truth has more than one side.” For a devotional writer, Norris is refreshingly well read; in developing his challenging portrait of God, he quotes some of the great theological and spiritual writers of the 20th century, among them C.S. Lewis, Victor Frankl, Dietrich Bonhoffer and Philip Yancey. And despite Norris’ erudition, his narrative never gets bogged down in pseudo-academic jargon. One only wishes that he had sustained that narrative for longer stretches. Perhaps aiming for digestibility, Norris breaks his book into dozens of small subheads that seldom run much longer than a page or two. His argument would have rung truer had he let it flow.
A welcome testament to the intricate challenges of belief.