The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith {Book Review}

“God is good, and God is still in control, and God’s kingdom is never in trouble.”

James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God, p 67.

I appreciate the sense of peace and calm carried along through The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith. The pacing and wording convey a sense that there is time, it is here, and it is enough. God and our place in the world. You won’t find undue urgency or harsh assumptions, just approachable theology that invites you to reconsider some of our most well-known ideas about God. A solid book with well-guided spiritual practices, it will accompany you with wisdom and reflection into who God is and what that means for us right now.

The most remarkable point in the book for me was in chapter 8 called “God Transforms” where Smith points out that we shouldn’t identify ourselves ‘sinners’ as Christians. We have been given a new nature through Jesus and might more accurately be called saints. I don’t really care for that title either, but I love the way Smith brings care to our current state as Christians in what can seem like the in-between reality of saved, but still sinning. I was so encouraged by this whole chapter because sometimes the idea that we are irreversibly flawed and can’t do anything right seems completely contrary to who we are in Christ. As Smith puts it, we are “persons indwelt by Jesus”. Our identity is completely wrapped up in Christ’s.

Here are a few quotes I highlighted from that chapter to illustrate a little further and hopefully clarify it for you:

  • “Thought the idea that Christians are sinners seems true and has been articulated by theologians past and present, I came to the conclusion that this teaching is false. It is false because it is not the narrative presented in the New Testament. It is also false because it is utterly illogical, contradictory and conflicting.” p152
  • “Christians are not merely forgiven sinners but a new species: persons indwelt by Jesus, possessing the same eternal life that he has.”p154
  • “Of course the best way to prevent the temptation from defeating us is to cling to the indwelling Christ. Jesus said we need to abide in him.” p158
  • “To abide means to rest in and rely on Jesus, who is not outside of us, judging us, but is inside of us, empowering us.” p159
  • “We minister out of our brokenness. We heal others through our vulnerability because that is where Christ shines most brightly.” p163
I took the dust jacket off and then brought it on a trip where it found a stain. So I asked one of my younger sisters to put some art on it for me and then I filled it in with colored pencils. I want to do this to all of my books now :)

Bonus Quotes:

  • “I am a person in whom Christ dwells, and I live in the kingdom of a God who loves me and is caring for me.” p21
  • “God’s goodness is not something I get to decide upon.” p50.
  • “God does not make me feel bad or shame me into better behavior. Nor does he use fear or guilt. God’s method of change is the highest of all. God’s holy love burns the dross of sin out of our lives.” p124
  • God cares deeply about sin because it destroys his precious children. And God longs for holiness in us because it is the way to wholeness.” p125

I hope you found my thoughts on this book useful and maybe you’ll pick up a copy!

As always this post contains Amazon affiliate links and I recieved a review copy of this book from IVPress, but all opinions are my own! :)

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