The Nine Veils: The Reputation of God & Our Struggle for Identity. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock
The Nine Veils explores the link between reputation and identity, making the case that if we desire to have the fullness of identity, we need to have a clear view of God, an unveiled view.
It’s working title became “30,000 Sunrises”, referring to the number of days demographers expect me to live. The number of days I have to determine the meaning and purpose of life, to develop a healthy understanding of God’s character, and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way.
I explore the values of two opposing kingdoms; the Kingdom of God bringing life and life to the full and the failed kingdom of the devil who will take every opportunity to kill, steal, and destroy.
The devil aims to destroy God’s reputation and to crush our identity, achieved when we wear spiritual-veils, veils that block and obscure God and hinder our relationship.
We often develop a wrong understanding of God through doubt: either we doubt all that God says he is, or we doubt he can meet our unique circumstances. When doubt robs our freedom, we can develop a fear-based perspective and interpret our relationship with God as one of reaching targets and maintaining performance. Alternatively, we personalize God to such a degree that, often subconsciously, we expect him to meet our entitlements.
The book identifies nine spiritual-veils that people wear, nine veils distorting our view and damaging our identity.
- Absent-God veil
- Performance-God veil
- Karma-God veil
- War-God veil
- Angry-God veil
- Schizophrenic-God veil
- Happy-God veil
- Genie-God veil
- Safe-God veil
Through my own journey and walking alongside many others, I consider that each of us can relate, in some way, to the concept of these veils. Through testimony, I use real-life stories to amplify this area; stories of intimacy and vulnerability.
Be it the result of doubt, fear, or entitlement, our understanding of the ways of God, of God’s character and his love, becomes tainted. We may still see evidence of light, but we’ve lost the ability to determine the position of God, and we form our assumptions of God based on misinformation. Over time, the gap between our assumptions and the real character of God widens as we attempt to navigate this confusing void.
The book does not ignore the tough questions of life as they represent our need for identity:
- Who am I?
- Where am I from?
- Why am I here?
Or, how they represent our uncertainty of God’s reputation:
- Why does God allow?
- Why is there suffering?
- Why doesn’t God stop?
These critical questions directly influence our understanding of God’s reputation and our identity.
While some of the harder questions of faith, as they relate to God’s reputation, are also explored:
- The Conquest of Canaan
- The Revelation narrative
Yet, these are not discussed from in-depth theological perspectives. Instead, they are addressed in the context of God’s good character; of a God who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
The reader is invited to consider their questions and concerns, and even accusations that they may have against God. Central to the philosophy of this book is God’s comfort in being asked questions. Yet, the way we ask questions becomes essential, as a son or daughter deeply loved by God, or as an accuser.
God is further explored through providing three sure anchors in our knowledge of God’s character (God’s Exodus 34:6 autobiography, the person of Jesus, and the priorities of the Holy Spirit). These three anchors become a solid foundation in helping to navigate a society that can reject God and even resent God.
The book ends with a challenge to live veil-free. To use our confidence in God to reach a hurting world, a world desperately needing to meet the God who loves them and where the battle for personal identity and the need for confidence in God’s reputation is of paramount importance in the twenty-first century.
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