“Yawning At Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying” is a book by Drew Dyck, managing editor of “Leadership Journal,” a publication of “Christianity Today.” I first heard of Mr. Dyck about a year ago when I started following him on Twitter. Much to my surprise, one day he tweeted me, telling me about the release of his new book.
I was reluctant to purchase the book, however. I didn’t know much about the author and I was a bit baffled by the title. And I had recently imposed a moratorium on book buying. With so many unread books lying around the house, I decided not to purchase any more until I made a dent in one of my stacks. (That ban has since been lifted.)
But I was so impressed that Mr. Dyck tweeted me, I contacted our local library and submitted a request for them to buy it. I figured that could take a while, so I promptly forgot about it.
Fast-forward a year when it dawned on me that I never followed up with the library. In response to my request, they had bought two copies of “Yawning At Tigers.” Now I had no excuse not to read it. So I headed to the library and checked it out.
I’m glad I did. My only regret is that I waited so long to read this book, which I did eventually purchase.
Like me, perhaps you’ve never heard of Drew Dyck or “Yawning At Tigers.” Perhaps the best way I can explain this book is to reference a book you may be familiar with – C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s tale “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” a delightful fantasy that transports the reader to the land of Narnia, where talking animals and magical powers abound.
The hero of Lewis’ book is a lion, not a tiger. His name is Aslan and he is symbolic of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, Son of God and God the Son.
Before meeting Aslan for the first time, Susan (one of the book’s main characters) asks, “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
Mr. Beaver responds, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Aslan is both unsafe and good. How can this be? This is the mystery of the character of God. This is what Drew Dyck calls “the grand paradox of the Christian faith.”
And this is the premise of “Yawning At Tigers” – God is both holy and loving, “transcendent and immanent, other and intimate.” He is above and beyond, yet present. Like Aslan, he is dangerous and terrifying, yet merciful, kind and compassionate.
Have I surprised you by describing God as dangerous, terrifying and unsafe? This is one aspect of God’s nature that we prefer to conveniently overlook, isn’t it? And such a reaction is common, even among believers. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.” Conquering this false notion is the very reason that Mr. Dyck wrote his book.
Even though the Bible is clear regarding the paradoxical nature of God’s character, Mr. Dyck contends that evangelicals have opted for a “one-sided portrayal” of God. We love to focus on God’s love, but “rarely do we hear about God’s mystery and majesty, let alone whisper a word about his wrath.”
And so “something is missing” in the evangelical church. Our understanding of God has become unbalanced. Gone are the reverence and awe, the fear and trembling, that you read in Scripture when a believer encounters the Holy One of Israel.
We are yawning at tigers (or lions). We don’t tremble at God because we have tamed him.
This is a serious indictment, is it not? Could Mr. Dyck be correct in his assessment of today’s evangelical church? I believe he is. And for this I applaud him. He is to be commended for confronting us about our distorted view of God.
As I think about my own experience in evangelicalism, I realize now that in the past 10 years I have heard only one sermon about hell. One. Yet how many times did Jesus mention hell in his 3-year ministry? How often did Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles speak of God’s wrath? Far more than we do. Mr. Dyck has his finger on the pulse of Bible-believing churches.
I believe this book presents an accurate and much needed criticism of a serious problem. Therefore I highly recommend “Yawning At Tigers” for these reasons:
1. Mr. Dyck’s indictment is supported with solid biblical teaching. The author is a gifted Bible teacher, and he explains the character of God by first going to Scripture. He expounds passages like Exodus 32 and Isaiah 6 with great insight.
2. The author is a gifted storyteller. You’ll hear about his vacation to Hawaii and his short-term mission trip to Albania. And before you know it, he has taught you something marvelous about God. He uses personal experiences to tell 21st century parables that lead us to tremble in God’s presence or embrace him for his tenderness.
3. He is also well read, and quotes freely from evangelicals like A.W. Tozer, John Piper and R.C. Sproul. Mr. Dyck is not the only modern-day prophet to call the church out for its twisted view of God. He is following in the footsteps of other great men of the Word.
4. Finally, I like this book because it presents the antidote to our overemphasis on God’s love. By devoting the first half of his book to God’s holiness and the second half to God’s goodness, the author has provided a wonderful example of a balanced treatment of the character of God. Should not the church be doing the same in our worship and preaching and teaching?
Evangelicals would do well to heed the warning and the instruction of “Yawning At Tigers.” I pray that many would read this book and interact with its content. A Discussion Guide is included that is ideal for both individual and small group study.
“Yawning At Tigers” is available on Amazon.com and at your local Christian bookstore. And if you live in Allen County, Indiana, it’s available at the public library for free.