The Bible is full of beautiful imagery that describes God and our relationship to him. Some examples—Father, Creator, King, Great Physician—are familiar to most of us. But we overlook many other pictures and metaphors. What can they teach us about God’s character and ways?
Lauren Winner—assistant professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School and author of Girl Meets God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Real Sex—takes up this question in her new book. In Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God (HarperOne), Winner uses the Scriptures to show that God is simply too vast and wonderful to contain in a single image. “The Bible’s inclusion of so many figures for God,” she writes, “is both an invitation and a caution. The invitation is to discovery: discovery of who God is, and what our friendship with God might become. The caution is against assuming that any one image of God, whatever truth it holds, adequately describes God.”
Winner’s main purpose is to stretch our imaginations, not to stir up controversy. She wants readers to grow deeper in friendship with God and find new ways to worship him. I’m confident her book can do just that. But in certain ways, she takes things too far.
Too Much to Describe
Most chapters in Wearing God explain a specific biblical image for God. God, in these chapters, is like clothing, a fragrant aroma, bread and wine, a woman in labor, laughter (at those who oppose him), and a raging fire. Each chapter fleshes out the imagery with biblical references, historical examples, and theological reasoning.
One of the most compelling aspects of the book is how Winner unlocks concepts ...1