Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 01 March |
home iconVoices & Views
line break icon

‘God Is Not Nice’: Speaking with Ulrich L. Lehner about his new book

ULRICH LEHNER,GOD IS NOT NICE

Ulrich Lehner | Ave Maria Press

Elizabeth Scalia - published on 10/17/17

"We should never tame God," says the Marquette professor, who specializes in Early Modern Religious History and Theology.

Ave Maria Press

Brant Pitre, author of the excellent The Case for Jesus and the indispensable Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, sounds pretty excited about Ulrich Lehner’s new book, God Is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology and Discovering the God Worth Living For. “This book is a bombshell in the playground of the contemporary sentimentalism and therapeutic deism that often masquerades as Christianity,” declares Pitre.

“[It is] one of those rare works that brilliantly diagnoses the errors of our time and responds to them with clarity and charity. In our age of ‘safe spaces, ‘ it should be required reading for college and university students who likely haven’t yet met the God of the Bible — a God who is good, but by no means safe.”

Lehner was kind enough to answer a few questions for our Aleteia readers.

Aleteia: What inspired the book?

Ulrich L. Lehner: I encountered countless students who were bored by the Christian faith, and I wondered why. One day I realized that we feed them the idea of a boring, conventional, nice God—something that kills passion for the faith. Even catechized young adults seemed to be unable to respond to the criticism of their friends that our faith is just a boring, middle-class invention, colonialist, or “European.”

What story or anecdote (or piece of advice) in this book most personally resonated with you?

We should never tame God or cover his majesty with our expectations and wishes. We should fight the temptation to see God as the divine vending machine: Our prayers are good in themselves, and God is worthy of worship because he is God. Let’s get into the adventure of adoration.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

It taught me many things. First, I was surprised the book was in me since I normally write history books. Second, it brought back many memories of my childhood where I encountered passionate, intelligent faith, and people who lived the adventure of living with God moment by moment, second to second. Third, it gave me a rationale of why I am a theology professor: helping others to find Christ.

If there is one person you want to reach with this book, who would that be?

Young adults and perhaps even teens who think about returning to the Church but are concerned that it is not for them. Anybody who thinks faith is boring or something for people who cannot cope with the real world. It is also a roadmap for believers on how to rekindle their imagination about the faith, thus giving it more vividness and a rational footing.

What is the ideal beverage to have in hand while reading your book? 

As a Bavarian I would say a good Bavarian beer, but really any drink that refreshes you and gets you into the mood to read about a wild God.

Tags:
BooksFaith
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Top 10
1
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
2
MADONNA
V. M. Traverso
The 9 oldest images of Mary
3
SEARCHNG PURSE
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things every Catholic woman should have in her purse
4
Jacques Fesch
Brother Silas Henderson, SDS
Meet the Death Row prisoner who discovered a ...
5
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
6
CELEBRITY MARRIAGES
Cerith Gardiner
10 Celebrities whose marriages have stood the test of time
7
RECONSTRUCTED CHRIST
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.