In When God Isn’t There: Why God Is Farther Than You Think, But Closer Than You Dare Imagine author David Bowden wrestles with the important issue of God’s presence and absence.
In this work Bowden seeks to find a biblical balance in understanding God’s immanence and transcendence or as Bowden addresses it God’s absence and presence. Theologian Stanley Grenz in his work 20th Century Theology makes the case that the development and differences in theology in the 20th century are tied up in this issue.
Bowden addresses God’s absence and makes clear that it is good that God has absented himself, that is that he is not present with us as he was present in Eden. Without the work of redemption in Christ it would be a terrifying thing for God to be present in that way. Bowden says, “If we were to come into the actual presence of God as naked, shameful, and sinful as Adam and Ever were, we would be struck dead (p. 27).” In the second section Bowden addresses out pursuit of God as believers. In the third section, which I think along with the forth are the greatest contributions this book makes, Bowden addresses the nature of God’s presence and the church. He helpfully tears down the false notion that God is specially present in the building and points to the presence of God in and among His people. The fourth section addresses our suffering and experience of God’s absence and how He is present with us in suffering. In the final section we see the hope of God’s nearness found in Christ, and the hope of being fully and finally brought into his presence.
Bowden addresses areas that we too often are often unaddressed. We often avoid the paradoxes of the Christian faith and our experience. Bowden’s work will help readers understand their experiences of God’s presence and absence in way that is informed by the truth of Scripture.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from BookLook Bloggers for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.