Yawning at Tigers by Drew Dyck

I am a bit of a sucker for cheap books on my Kindle. And lately I have been on something of a theology/faith kick (so much so that I am now hopelessly behind in my reading).

So when I saw Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying by Drew Dyck temporarily on sale for less than two dollars I had to click.

Yawning at TigersWhen was the last time you were overawed by God’s majesty? Have you ever stood in stunned silence at his holiness and power?

In our shallow, self-centered age, things like truth and reverence might seem outdated, lost. Yet we’re restless. And our failed attempts to ease our unrest point to an ancient ache for an experience of the holy.

Drew Dyck makes a compelling case that what we seek awaits us in the untamed God of Scripture—a God who is dangerous yet accessible, mysterious yet powerfully present. He is a God who beckons us to see him with a fresh, unfiltered gaze.

Yawning at Tigers takes us past domesticated Christianity, into the wilds where God’s raw majesty, love, and power become more real and transformative than we could ever imagine.

One again I found myself torn about my reaction to a book touching on faith, theology or the Bible.

I really like what the author is getting at here: that we domesticate God and make him safe and tame. And I think the first half of the book does a good job of getting us to think about why and how we attempt to tame God and what the repercussions of that are for our lives and our communities.

But then in the second half of the book I felt like he slowly slipped back into rather conventional approaches to Christianity with a focus on Jesus and God’s love. Not that there is anything wrong necessarily with this approach (although I have certain nits to pick) but it seemed at times a little disconnected from the larger topic.

Dyck is trying to show how God is both holy, awesome and transcendent but also deeply loving, present and personal. I get that. And the incarnation is the pivot on which this well told tale turns.

I have been trying to figure out why I didn’t enjoy the book more than I did.

I liked the way he frequently touched on the narrative or storyline of scripture and brought in prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea to illustrate his points. I liked the section dealing with suffering and how different cultures and time periods view(ed) the crucifixion very differently. And he used the tearing of the temple veil effectively to illustrate the impact of Jesus death. There is a blend of anecdote, personal experience and theology that makes for easy reading.

But in the end, I feel like Dyck is making some theologically loaded arguments without unpacking them or going into much detail. I guess I feel like he is stealing a few bases rhetorically.

Basically, he views the story of God and Jesus through the lens of the first chapter of John. The Incarnation, in the doctrinal sense, becomes the point of the Gospel, the remainder of the New Testament, and the rest of history for that matter.

The point of Jesus’s suffering is so God would know what it feels like to be human. The answer to evil and pain in the world is “God with Us” in Jesus. The missional movement is modeled after the incarnation, etc. The whole of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is shrunk down to God coming to earth to show us how much he loves us.

Now, I know what you are saying: “Kevin, this is rather standard evangelical stuff.” Yes, I know. But having wrestled with these issues, and tried to sort out many of the underlying questions, and approach scripture with fresh eyes and/or less doctrinal baggage or presuppositions, they too often come across as easy answers. A spiritualized, universalized approach that neuters the Biblical story in important ways. But I am pretty confident that is my rather unique hang-up these days (shocking, I know).

If you are looking for a book that seeks to highlight the awesome holiness and majesty of God and yet connect that to his infinite love and pursuit of His people you will enjoy this book.

As I said, Dyck blends theology, anecdote, and personal experience in an approachable and engaging way. He looks to make scripture come alive instead of fade into stale flannel-graph stories.

Although well written and organized, however, I am not sure there is much in the later half of the book that isn’t standard fare in evangelical Sunday School classes and sermons on Sundays. But perhaps I have just heard this approach frequently and there are swaths of American Christianity where it has not been discussed or embraced.

And I will admit that it is easy to embrace one side at the expense of the other; to focus on God’s sovereignty and judgement at the expense of his love and dogged pursuit of the lost; or to focus on God’s love and compassion while ignoring his transcendent, all-powerful and holy nature. This is certainly frequently evident in discussions of these and related topics. We tend to pick a side rather than live with tensions. And Dyck rightful explains the danger involved in this temptation or tendency.

That said, I think the story of scripture is a bit more complicated than what is presented here; but perhaps that is asking too much of a book of this nature.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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