st bernard of clairvaux on loving god

The Image of GOD we have in our soul has the potential of enhancing our life. This happens when the image of GOD is one of goodness, justice, and encouragement. The opposite is also true. A GOD image can be destructive, inflict guilt, cause insecurity, and foster condemnation of self and others. In a refreshing and life-giving way the two authors, Rosemarie Kohn and Susanne Sonderbo, present a slideshow of insights: Kohn as the Biblical theologian, Sonderbo using developmental psychology. They address how a «Toxic Faith» can poison and writhe a person's life into absolutism. This happens, they note, when one image of GOD becomes dominant and exclusive of all other images. A section of the book is devoted to an analysis of the homosexuality debate inside and outside the Norwegian church. Using over 1400 letters from the «Sunde Case» in 1999 they uncover a variety of GOD images: rigid and judgmental, warm and comforting, some based on Scripture and others on a broad range of human experiences hoping in a gentle and loving GOD. Kohn and Sonderbo have through their work met many people with a GOD image causing much hurt and pain. It is the authors' hope that the book will be a helpful tool in reflection on and perhaps reconstruction of the GOD image to which the reader has grown accustomed. They advocate lifelong growth in faith. The book also provides pastors and therapists with a key to understanding. Both authors plead a case for images of GOD that focus on inclusivity, love, and friendship–offering inner strength and hopeful living. They also make a strong case for how our image of GOD is not so much about theology but rather about growth and development in our personal lives. How we imagine GOD says a great deal about how we look at ourselves and others.

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