Is God At Home?

30 brief messages on basic Christian beliefs

© 1957  J. B. Phillips

All Rights Reserved

Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee

1.  Devotional Literature
BV4832 .P52
~~ Dewey: 248 ~~ LCCN: 57008354 ~~ OCLC: 1550942 ~~ 109p.

Is God At Home? is presently held by 250 libraries including Harvard Divinity School and Oxford University.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. Is God at Home? . . . . . 15

2. Are You a Man or a Mouse? . . . . . 20

3. Recipe For Happiness . . . . . 23

4. Is God like Father Christmas? . . . . . 27

5. The Road to Freedom . . . . . 31

6. Time Marches On . . . . . 34

7. God and the College Degree . . . . . 37

8. I Never Asked to Be Born . . . . . 40

9. It Walks By Night . . . . . 43

10. "May I Take It To The Light?" . . . . . 46

11. How Am I Doing? . . . . . 48

12. A Wizard Type . . . . . 51

13. The Comfort of the Atom Bomb . . . . . 54

14. I Like To Keep an Open Mind . . . . . 57

15. Christmas is Coming . . . . . 60

16. Why Good Friday? . . . . . 63

17. The First Easter Parade . . . . . 66

18. What's Whitsun? . . . . . 70

19. "Blow the Blueprint!" . . . . . 73

20. The Way to Love . . . . . 76

21. "My Past Has Caught Up With Me" . . . . . 79

22. "No! No! A Thousand Times No!" . . . . . 82

23. He's Wonderful, Isn't He? . . . . . 85

24. The Dumb Blonde . . . . . 88

25. Why Should I Support the Church? . . . . . 91

26. Men Under Reconstruction . . . . . 94

27. Be Your Age, Brother! . . . . . 97

28. Why Don't You Relax? . . . . . 100

29. Have You a Split Personality? . . . . . 103

30. Is God Dead? . . . . . 106

   Free of the theological jargon that makes some of those outside the church think the Christian faith is a secret society, this book presents the meaning of Christ to the ordinary man in language he can understand.

   Collected in response to many requests, these thirty brief messages bridge the gulf between the language of the church and the people of the surrounding world by translating the heart of the faith into the common language of today. Simply and sympathetically they probe into the meaning of religion to man in his daily existence, and show him how he needs, and can find, the Christian life.

   Filling an urgent need to interpret basic Christian truths, Dr. Phillips' explanations are simple, clear, and intelligible. Both ministers and laymen will find in this book valuable lessons showing how they too can communicate the gospel in words of everyday experience.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

PREFACE

Every clergyman, minister, and pastor who takes his work seriously is uncomfortably conscious of the gulf between the members of his church, who are frequently those with a Christian upbringing, and the ordinary people of the surrounding world. He knows that the Church in its preaching and in its writing is very often speaking to no more than its own members and hangers-on.

   I believe I am not alone in believing that this unwilling insularity, this failure in communication, is due very largely to the failure of the Church to use the right language and thought-forms. Much language current in our churches is well understood by the churches' members (though sometimes all too unthinkingly accepted), but is nothing more nor less than technical jargon to men and women who for a generation or two have not been associated with any church. Such people naturally regard the Church and the Church's

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gospel as irrelevant when the language in which God's Word is spoken is almost completely divorced from the words and forms of thought of everyday experience.

   Now the Christian who feels acutely the tragedy of this gulf between Church and people has two courses open to him. He may insist that it is perfectly right and proper that the Church should have its own language and expressions, and he may take the view that if people want to join the divine society, they must expect to take the trouble to learn the language. For myself I find serious objections to this point of view, for it is rare to find people so constrained to join the Church that they are willing to submit to instruction, as it were, before they can learn what the Church's message is.

   The defenders of the jargon and phrases of the Church's traditions hold that there must of necessity be a specialized vocabulary, just as there is in any other specialized form of human activity, whether it is music, architecture, or electronic engineering. To me at least, this is a thoroughly unsound argument, for Christ did not come into the world to bring men "specialized activity," but life, fuller and more satisfying than it had ever

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been before. If the churches have made Christianity appear to be some kind of specialized spiritual performance, so much the worse for them. The real purpose of Christ, the real relevance of the gospel, is surely to enable men to live together as sons of God. Human beings, like children, love to have secrets, love to be "in the know." But the Christian religion was never meant to be a secret recipe for living, held by a few. It is good news for all mankind; and, because it is that, the more clearly and intelligibly it can be presented, the more faithfully it is following its Master's purpose.

   The second course open to the sensitive Christian is to try to learn the words and ways of thinking of the world by which he is surrounded. He must not be so proud that he will only read the most exclusive newspaper and the best-written books. He must not avert eyes of horror from the popular daily paper, from the current film success, or from the radio or television show which influences thinking in millions of homes. If a fisherman must study the habits of the fish he is to catch, it is surely not unreasonable to suggest that fishers of men should study the ways in which men think and feel and express themselves. We may hold in our hands the Word of life, but if we cannot communicate

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it to the people around us, it would almost be better if we did not hold it at all!

   Like many others in the Christian ministry I have been concerned with this whole question of communication for several years. I know for a fact that many estimable Christian books never penetrate beyond a comparatively small circle of Christian readers. This is not in the least because the writers are out of sympathy with modern problems or out of touch with modern life, but simply because they have not learned the koine, the common language of today. It is significant to me as a translator that in the province of God the New Testament was written, not in the majestic and beautiful Greek of the classical period, but in the Greek of the market place and the port, the lingua franca of the then-known world. Surely there is a lesson to be learned from this simple fact. If we are going to be able to "communicate," many of us who have been educated and trained in theology will have to relearn the koine of today's world.

   In this book there are collected together, in response to a number of requests, some attempts that have been made to communicate eternal

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truths in the language of today. It is hoped that they will be found free from technical jargon, while faithfully expressing various facets of the Christian gospel. I am under no illusions as to their limitations and imperfections, but I hope that they will at least stimulate others to further efforts in the urgent modern art of communication.

Proceed to Chapter One and continue reading

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