God of Fire: The Hope Reformation

by Joshua Woodward

★★★★

Who is God, really? A fire-breathing tyrant? A loving Father? Woodward wants to reintroduce us to a God whose purpose is love. Yes, there’s fire in scripture, but God’s fire is for refining, not punishing. Everyone goes through the fire, not just the uncooperative guys.

For everyone will be salted by fire –Mark 9:49

But what about the book of Revelation, which promises everlasting punishment in a lake of fire? What about the gospel of Matthew, which seems especially hung up on hellfire? Woodward suggests we forget about them. A number of books have covertly slipped into the canon, through the deception of evil angels, which do not carry the authority of Christ or the apostles. He insists that apocalyptic themes, especially those regarding eternal fire, are contradictory to the true message of Christ. This is not the purpose of God’s refining fire. Consequently, Woodward rejects a number of the New Testament books, and calls us to return to the gospel taught to us by Peter, John and Paul. His arguments for this radical action are very interesting.

As with most highly controversial books, there was much I agreed with and much I did not. For me, the value of a book can often be measured by how many notes I take in the margins reminding me to research the topics further. This time there were plenty! One fascinating example is Woodward’s suggestion that when Jesus spoke of returning on the clouds, the “cloud” he referred to was the Holy Spirit. Similar to my own interpretation of the Gospel of John, Woodward suggests that the arrival of the Holy Spirit represented Jesus’s Second Coming. (I hope I’m representing him properly.)

On the downside, I did find the book just a little bit preachy and assumptive. Woodward looks forward to the day the Jews finally understand their own scripture. He recognizes the Spirit of God working in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, while noting that they don’t really yet “know Him as we do.” I found such passages a bit distracting, so I dropped my rating one star.

I received an unedited version for review, and did not take into consideration its lack of editing.

Createspace, © 2014, 227 pages

ISBN: 978-1502365569

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