Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.

Congratulations to the winner of the last Dreams Coming True, K King. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Brad Jersak, author of A More Christlike God,  to Dreams Coming True! Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a copy of Brad’s new release.

Tell us a little about yourself:Brad Jersak

My name is Brad Jersak, married to Eden with three sons. After twenty years serving as a pastor, I finished up a PhD and am now based in Abbotsford, Canada as an author and teacher. I teach New Testament and Patristics at Westminster Theological Centre (in the UK) and am Senior Editor of CWR magazine (Christianity Without the Religion).

How did A More Christlike God get started?

Over the past five years I have been dreaming of writing a book that would address toxic images of God that have oppressed so many people. I wanted to share that God is just like Jesus and this makes the Gospel more beautiful than the judgment ultimatums that frequently replace it. If God is love as embodied in Christ, then perhaps the hordes of ‘nones’ in exodus from organized religion would not need to lose faith … and may the churches, too, would reconsider what they’re preaching.

A few years ago, Plain Truth Ministries (the publishers behind CWR magazine) invited me to write a book for them and gave me freedom to pitch whatever topic I was passionate about their way. I pitched A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel, and they jumped on it.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

In a strange way, the theme (A More Christlike God) seems really novel in its obviousness. ‘Well, of course God is like Jesus’ … but once you accept that, one can of worms after another begins to open up: then what about hell? What about Old Testament genocide? What about divinely sanctioned war? What about God’s allegedly violent side? How then do we read the Bible when it depicts God in un-Christlike ways? If Christ alone is the perfect image of God, these questions become like (and quite relevant) topics open for discussion.

While some books are addressing these questions, the Christlike God theme gives this book coherence and takes the next step at ‘unwrathing God’ and addressing the problem of evil in unique ways.

What are the goals and intentions of your book?

I’m trying to set the record straight on some pretty slanderous beliefs that people have about God. I think God has been badly misrepresented and people have been rejecting a caricature that actually should be rejected. So on the one hand, I’m trying to throw a lifeline of faith to folks who’ve already given up on religion but think they’re spiritual … but whose spirituality is tumbling nowhere like a kite without a string. If they could tether in to the God who is like Jesus, their faith wouldn’t need to be cynical or reactionary or hopelessly vague. And on the other hand, I’m hoping to address church-folks and their pastors who’ve been perpetuating some of the ugly myths about God (even in good faith) to say, ‘Look, the good news is even better than we thought … we need to give this a fresh look.’

How does your project create community?

I can think of a few examples: practically speaking, we’ve included study questions with each chapter in the hopes that small groups would work through the book together. But even more immediately, it’s become a focus of discussion for a number of Facebook groups where they’ve already left community and Facebook groups are their first tentative step back towards at least discussing things close to their hearts with others.

Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly…but then enthusiasm drizzles off?

Two main things have helped me:

  1. Bite-sized pieces. I find the idea of writing a book overwhelming. But I was sure I could write an article. And then another. And then another. Ten articles later, you have a book of ten chapters. So if you do a series of smaller projects following a theme that you care about a lot, then the package at the end can be significant. Over ten books later, here I am.
  2. Conversation partners. I’ve enjoyed finding others who are willing to hash through ideas with me, who bring out the best in me, and contribute ideas I would have never thought about. These conversations are life-giving / energizing to the original vision, but also seem to both clarify and expand it.

Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributer have a specific role?

This is the most involved book I’ve worked at in terms of behind-the-scenes efforts including contributing helpers. It had an intense research phase (including post-doc studies in Nottingham) that included interviewing people who acted as real consultants who shaped my thinking significantly. I mentioned other conversation partners, some who have journeyed with me as peer reviewers, mentors and colleagues. Those voices add up to perhaps ten regular significant contributors.

We also had the publishing team, which included Greg Albrecht as editor-in-chief who literally read the book over a dozen times and pushed hard for a better product. We’ve got others at CWR publishing working on promo, adverts, etc. In addition to my main editor, the book also went to a very picky line-editor/proof-reader and two theological heavyweights who called for corrections and clarifications.

So there were many people helping, each with very specific roles.

What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?A More Christlike God

I found moving from the extensive research phase to the actual writing phase difficult this time, because there is no end to what I could discover as I keep looking. I didn’t feel ready for several years and then one day, it was like a baby that came to term and had to pop.

What have you learned?

My biggest discovery on this project was while still in the research stage. I was studying this idea of kenosis, usually translated as Christ ’emptying’ himself to take the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). I realized that the Incarnation (God becoming man) was not a departure from deity (since Jesus never ceased to be fully God), but rather, spoke of Christ’s self-giving humility as the quintessential revelation of what true deity actually is. Christ was not merely a superman emperor up in heaven who temporarily disguised himself as a self-giving servant–no! On the Cross most of all, Christ revealed God as humble from all eternity. God is self-giving love!

Have there been any unexpected surprises?

I’m used to the writing phase taking 6 months, but because of the many edits and corrections and expansions (e.g. call-outs, glossaries, endorsements, etc), I was also surprised that the writing phase took two full years.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting your project?

The biggest misconception is that if A More Christlike God is not in the self-help or devotional genres, then it will be heavy theology and not for them. But the truth is that it’s a book about God that is meant to answer the questions and concerns of many thoughtful laypeople who addressed them to me directly in my pastoring years. The answers are no deeper than the questions of those thoughtful Christians who asked them in the first place. So I would say, any thoughtful person with questions about what God is like will be able to read this with good comprehension. They just shouldn’t expect to skim it over a weekend.

What are some ways you promote your project?

Social media (Facebook / Twitter), my newsletter, my blogs, other blog reviewers and interviewers, radio and perhaps TV interviews, on-site seminars at local churches/colleges (every third weekend on average).

Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?

I’m used to it, but for this project, I am doing far more than previously.

Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?

Overestimating and overpaying third-party promoters. That has historically been a disappointment but we are hoping for better results this time.

What social network has worked best for you?


What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?

Start by writing blog articles to see whether writing is for you and whether you can be of interest to others.

Where do you see this project in five years?

After the initial spike in early sales, I believe we will continue to see a steady flow of sales over the next decade. There is already a spin-off kid’s book in the works, but we’ll see whether there is also a sequel, a seminar and some video teaching from the book.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your creative dream, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.

How will this book make a difference?

I think the book will be part of a broader movement in representing God as loving and inclusive, while not losing the core identity of Christian faith. It seems like the options lately have been either rigid fundamentalism or a vague Christ-less spirituality. What I’m presenting is the idea that the most faithful historic Christian vision is more beautiful and more radical than liberals or conservatives have imagined. We’re starting to discover this and I hope to be part of the tipping point.

[Tweet “What if God has always been & forever will be ‘cruciform’ in his character? @bradjersak”]

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