In this episode John and Gregg complete their discussion of Darin Hufford’s book The Misunderstood God. John notes that both he and Gregg decided not to discuss all the chapters, while Gregg notes that the same themes are recurring in different chapters (and under different topics).
John gives the book three out of five stars and summarizes it in two ways. First, by noting how it provides answers to the question of “what” God is or does (such as God being ‘love’) without offering much regarding “how” one comes to see or experience God in this way. Second, by noting that the book would be much more credible if Hufford offered some form of substantiation for his views instead of asserting that “this generation” does X or fails to do Y. Particularly, having biblical references when referring to matters concerning God and Christianity would be helpful.
Gregg withholds his ‘star rating’ for the book, noting that Hufford has offered a mix of valuable perspectives with unhelpful and possibly dangerous formulations. For example, in the conclusion (p. 205) Hufford writes: “Here is the point we’ve been coming to all along… When you truly love someone unconditionally with all that’s in you, that flame of love inside your heart is God.” After quoting a few similar sections Gregg argues that it is is a mistake to believe that we know God / engaging in loving God by loving others. This is to misunderstand: we know God’s love by being loved by God and being in love with God (despite the fact that the exact content of that love is a matter of interpretation).
Gregg agrees with John that the glaring absence of biblical backup is a significant issue. Given the lack of biblical substantiation Hufford bases much of his argument on personal analogies. But this misses the point: from a Christian perspective we know God both through the Bible and through our experience of relating to / with God. Thus analogies are not the basis for our explanations but offer clarification and / or re-interpretation of those explanations.
So Gregg notes that, by failing to engage with truth, the love that Hufford promotes has no “explanatory edge:” it lacks the ability critically to assess and adjudicate between various claims to ‘love,’ in order to determine which are truer and which appear false. With Hufford’s approach this is simply not possible. Gregg concludes that ultimately Hufford Hufford and Kyle Idleman make the same mistake (or fail to deliver on the same crucial point): as Christians we need to be able to rightly relate our experience of living in the world with our best understandings of the biblical text.
Finally, Gregg strongly disagrees with Hufford’s view of ‘truth’. So where Hufford notes (p. 150) that “the truth is already in you. It’s in little children. When you hear it, it should be something you already knew in your heart to be true,” and where he embraces the “child test” (if a child intuitively understands it, it’s probably truth; if not it is probably false) as a way to “understand God’s heart,” Gregg notes that we had best hope that life is incredibly simple and that people are basically good. But life and Christianity show themselves to be complicated and difficult, and human experience (and the biblical text) portray the human heart / mind as apt to making choices that are selfish and untruthful!