20 Quotes from “The Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surprise of Judgement, the Hope of Holy War” by Joshua Butler

I’m admittedly late to the game on this book, but Josh’s The Skeleton’s in God’s Closet is a must read. Over 300 pages or so, Josh unpacks some of the most challenging topics for modern skeptics of Christianity. Josh keeps the imagination of the reader engaged with so many stories it seems like he’s lived five lifetimes over.

One of my favorite parts of the book was right in the middle when he unpacks and applies the parable of the Prodigal Sons. To be honest, when I first got here I almost skimmed over it. It seems like very few have added much to this parable, in my humble opinion, since Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God, but I’m so glad I didn’t. What Josh adds might be worth the price of purchase by itself.

Friends, if you haven’t already, go get this book.

If you’d like to purchase the book you can do so here. If you’d like to read an honest review of the book by Derek Rishmawy you can do so here.

Here are 20 of my favorite quotes. Enjoy!

1. Page xxvii

God is good. That is the central message and driving theme of this book. Not just a little bit good. Not just partially good. Not just sometimes good and sometimes not. But extravagantly, mercifully, gloriously, better-than-we-can-ask-or-imagine good.

2. Page 24

The reason fire is such a fitting metaphor for human sinfulness is its amazing ability to spread. Light a match, and watch your house go up in flames. Roast marshmallows around a campfire, and see a wildfire burn through an entire state. It’s not hard to see why fire so adequately portrays sin and its resulting ruin. Our sin, if left unchecked, can burn up the world.

3. Page 25

And there is good news for our world: God is going to kick sex trafficking and genocide out of it. But here’s the rub: he is more serious about it than we are. The spark that sets the wildfire lives in us; the root of the wicked tree is in our hearts; the poisoned spring from which the deadly waters flow is not just “out there,” it is “in here.” The problem is us.

4. Page 26

Jesus paints a picture of prodigals, tax collectors, and sinners, partying it up in the Father’s house while upstanding citizens, elder brothers, and those with the moral high ground cling to their credentials and complaints in the backyard.

5. Page 31

Many in the Christian justice community are rightfully battling the wicked tree while wrongfully ignoring the wicked root in their own hearts.

6. Page 39

Hell is cruel. yet to blame the cruelty of hell on God is like an alcoholic blaming sobriety for the pain of his addiction.

7.  Page 57

Evil is an adjective, not a noun: a gluttonous appetite; an adulterous relationship; an oppressive authority. Evil is not a person, place, or thing, but rather, a distorted relationship with people, places, and things.

8. Page 85

While many in the West vociferously protest and lament the Christian doctrine of hell in theory, we simultaneously cling to the Christian logic of hell in our everyday lives.

9. Page 99

It is when Jesus raises us from the waters of baptism that we realize we would never again want to be submerged in those suffocating floods of sin and rebellion. It is when the Spirit breathes the life of God into our gasping lungs that we realize we would never again want to return to our self-contained life from before. It is when the Father gently removes the scales from our eyes with his gracious presence that our former freedom from God is revealed to be a tyrannical enslavement — in which we were the tyrant.

10. Page 141

Jesus’ cross is the life-giving tree. It is the place where our sin, rebellion, and destruction are absorbed and mercy made the basis for entrance into the life of God.

11. Page 145

The cost of union with Christ is the death of our independence; the cost of true worship is the exile of our autonomy; if we want salvation, we must leave Egypt — and let him carry us into the promised land.

12. Page 158

If we think God’s love and justice are schizophrenic, it probably means we have a distorted understand of both.

13. Page 177

…the scandal for Islam is more than simply who reconciles the world (Jesus), but also how he reconciles the world: through his redemptive death on the cross.

14. Page 178

Jesus establishes his kingdom not through the love of power, but through the power of love: his self-giving enemy love that lays his life down for his enemies as we destroy him on the cross.

15. Page 186

The gospel proclaims that Love has a Name: Jesus.

16. Page 201

This reveals a second sense, however, in which sharing our faith is necessary: if we don’t want to share the medicine, it probably reveals we haven’t tasted it ourselves. If I am truly united with God, how could I not want to see his light, life, and love pour through me into the darkness, death, and destruction of our world?

17. Page 259

While Babylon rages upon the earth, the prayers of the saints rise to God’s throne. These prayers are pictured as incense in Revelation, rising before the presence of God. God smells the prayers of his people, hears the cries erupting from his blood-soaked world. The cries are gathered to fill the bowls of wrath before God’s throne waiting to be poured out in his final judgement upon Babylon.

18. Page 294

The New Jerusalem is a perfect cube, patterned after the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem’s temple where God’s presence dwelled most intimately. Only now the Holy of Holies has expanded to become the city itself. The holiest place has become a city, the city has become a country, and the country has become the center of the world.

19. Page 295

This is the biblical story: God’s grand objective is to get heaven into earth — and get the hell out.

20. Page 298

To enter the city is to be grafted into the life of Jesus himself. Admission is free, for the Lamb who was slain has atoned for our sin and opened its gates for all who will come. Yet, it costs us everything, for to enter is to be grafted into the very life of God, dying to ourselves that we might be united in him as one.

Bonus Quote:

21. Page 310

Resurrection is the melody at the center of God’s symphony for the world, a symphony in which holy war, judgement, and hell are seen to be minor movements within resurrection’s broader major sweep.