For much of my Christian life (almost 30 years), I believed that there were strong intellectual arguments for Christianity. However, starting around 2002 that intellectual foundation came crashing down. I will not bore you with the details of my issues here, but suffice it to say, I’ve had three choices: Ignore the problems; abandon the faith which has sustained me through most of my adult life; or, try and imagine what faith would look like in this new world of doubt.
My goal is to have a safe place to talk about faith and doubt without trying to persuade anyone in one direction or the other. From my experience, I think what people looking to walk away from their faith want is not somebody to tell them the answers but rather, to walk with them, side-by-side, and wrestle with the issues of their faith and doubt. Maybe it’s possible to re-imagine your faith. Maybe it’s not. But certainly, once a traveler starts down this road, there is no turning back.
I appreciated your very thorough and charitable book review, although I have a few honest
disagreements with some of your conclusions and assumptions. I would be very curious to
know where you are at in your faith/doubt journey with the 3 choices posted above (so far
sounds somewhat similar to Clark Pinnock’s ‘pilgrimage’) if you are willing to share.
Thanks for being authentic and open in your search for truth and real life.
Hi Jim, thanks for stopping by!
I can safely say, there’s pretty much no way I can go back. It would require a level of cognitive dissonance that I can’t muster. On the other hand, I’m still not really ready to abandon Christian faith, although there are days… So in a sense, my journey may end up a like Pinnock’s (although I only have a cursory understanding of where he started and have only read a couple of his later works).
Because a lot of my struggles revolve around just what is the Bible and how does the Bible become The Bible, I am looking at further formal study. Unfortunately, my experience is that much of American christianity does not value deep academic reflection (noting there are exceptions and caveats that should be applied to that statement), which means that I will likely struggle to find a faith community where I feel like I can contribute.
How about you? Is there something that intrigues you about faith/doubt journeys in particular? Also, I would love, if you’d be willing to comment on them, to hear your concerns about the book review, especially where you disagree with me. Sound critique is an important avenue toward improvement.
Hi Dan, my main concern is your not taking the Bible, or the authors of the book you review,
on their terms instead of your own expectations frontloaded. That colors your comments
For example, you have trouble with the mustard seed in Mark 4, causing your ‘cognitive
dissonance’ perhaps. When Jesus is in impromptu storytelling mode telling a parable
using proverbial contrast metaphor language, it is best not to artificially impose your
21st century botanical scientific precision expectation on what Jesus should say to
a 1st century agrarian Palestine audience familiar with sowing very tiny mustard seeds
that they knew would grow into a large plant. Simple. Basic. That’s pretty much it.
Allow Jesus in his own Solominic rabbinic language context to say “smallest” and “largest” as his audience would be quite familiar with. Jesus was not saying absolute ultimate global sense,
but in local cultural familiar sense.
Churchill once said of a political adversary, “He has the gift of compressing the most amount
of words into the least amount of thoughts.” If we absolutize his use of “most” and “least”,
we miss the point and his inerrant gist.
Can you allow Jesus to speak Churchillian when he tells proverbial parables to get one main
point across? If so, then the Bible is allowed to speak its own true reality in its own true
original language which we must learn to read Scripture and take Jesus at face value on
His own terms, not ours.
Does that make sense? Thanks for being open to sound critique as must we all toward an avenue of improvement!
Actually, I agree that Jesus is using a form of hyperbole when he says the mustard seed is the smallest. My question is what are the criteria for determining when to apply these kinds of criteria? In other words, why say that this a “Churchillian” overstatement but when Jesus says “no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6), it’s not? (Assuming you don’t think Jesus is overstating there.)
Dan, btw, curious about the photo on your website & where it was taken.
Also why the name “beleaving”? Hope it’s not: I’ll be leaving the faith…but something more
Don’t mean to be picky but I imagine “periodic mussings” should be musings,
otherwise things get pretty messy and mussed up!
All the best, hope to resume conversation about your book review!
Dan, I’m enjoying the other essays you wrote on this site, very thorough and learned.
One point arises related to Stephen’s speech in Acts 7:4 vs. Gen.11:26. It doesn’t say
that Terah was 70 when Abram was born, only that after Terah turned 70, he would become
father of 3 sons (not triplets! but over time): Abram (listed first as most important in the historical account, not necessarily eldest – unwarranted assumption not in the text) and his brothers.
Reading Genesis 11 in Moses’ original terms dovetails perfectly with Stephen’s history
lesson which the Sanhedrin knew quite well, especially Nicodemus as Israel’s master teacher and of course Gamaliel, Paul’s mentor.
Thx for re-evaluating your position based on extra-biblical scholarly eisegesis (insertion).
I prefer intra-biblical scholarly exegesis (extraction).
You make an excellent point that I have assumed the list is chronological, although I wouldn’t consider it unwarranted, given the importance of birth order in the culture of the Bible. Can you point me to any other place in the OT where the order of sons listed is in importance to substantiate this claim? Also, how do you explain the where Steven comes up with such a precise number of years?
Jacob I loved, Esau I hated — Malachi not chronological.
Jacob outranks in importance though Esau was firstborn.
Stephen’s factual recounting of years derived from same OT education/source as that of
Nicodemus and Gamaliel who did not dispute it, nor did master historian Luke wtho knew his
OT as well as any Gentile of his day.
Criteria for Exegeting Christ’s words properly (ExeJesus): Parable? Expect hyperbole &
Metaphor as key elements of Solomonic proverbial impromptu compare/contrast illustrations.
Not a parable? Not relative Churchillian narrative of this vs. that, but absolute Einsteinian
declarative E = mc2.
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life = no one comes to God unless My LifeTruthWay(Me).
Moses and Aaron mentioned often in Pentateuch, Moses 3 years younger, Aaron never listed
first in order, especially Exodus.
Jim–appreciate your responses. I went to your website — could not find a place to follow your blogs. Do you have that function available on your site?
Steve, thanks for kind remarks. I’m a rookie and just launched GeoChristo with no interactive features/function as yet. Curious what you think – any especially helpful content you found useful, suggestions for improvement, topics of interest? It’s all new to me! You’re the first feedback I’ve gotten! One of my next essays I hope to be on ‘The Miracle Bible’ as Theopneustos, not just God-breathed, but God-still-breathing-out as living and active Word of the Lord, heaven-authored in humanese, just as Divine/Human as Jesus Himself, who although the Perfect Holy Sinless Inerrant Son of God no doubt also had his share of skin blemishes, sun-weathering & smile lines after 33 years, scars from carpentry work and nail prints from the cross – none of which compromised His perfection, infallibility, sinless errorless truthbearing!
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