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Stephen Douglas - Fri, 05/31/2013 - 10:06
Just wanted to inform any readers I might still have here (I’ve been so negligent of this blog of late) that one of my old blog posts was revised and has just been published in a book edited by Travis Milam and Joel Watts (yes, that guy), called From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion). Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
There’s a stereotype of a young, zealous Christian who feels called to the ministry as a pastor, goes to seminary, and then loses his faith as he studies the writings of all those intellectuals and theologians. The stereotype may not be accurate, but there are those who fit this description, not to mention many who leave home for college as passionate Christians and come home unbelievers. More importantly, that stereotype represents a fear the fear that too much education or contact with those whose beliefs differ from those of a particular community will cause someone to lose their faith.
But there’s another group, much larger, but not heard nearly as frequently. This group consists of people who have gone from the position of fear that creates the stereotype to a position of faith, a faith that is no longer afraid of that outer darkness that looms outside the walls of their religious community. Indeed, they may not perceive any looming darkness at all.
From Fear to Faith, edited by Travis Milam and Joel L. Watts, gives voice to that too often unheard group. It is a collection of essays from those who have lived in fear, have faced the looming dark, collided with their share of brick walls, but have come out with a new-found faith and undismayed trust.
The journeys of faith presented in this book reveal a group deeply insightful and grounded minds, rich in thriving spirituality, joy, and hope. Where there was once trepidation in asking the tough questions of human existence, of the divine relationship with creation, there is now a certain hope found when these authors have struggled to overcome canyons of fear, leaving behind a life of black and white certitude, to live in a beautiful world of gray.
They have learned that having questions and even doubts does not reflect a lack of faith. Rather, hiding in fear from the serious questions indicates a lack of faith in the one who said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Come join in this journey from fear to faith.
Most of the essays in this volume are testimonials, what Pete Enns (one of the endorsers) summarized as “stories about leaving conservative churches.” And he’s right: there are some really good stories in here from insightful writers, such as my friend Mike Beidler.
My contribution in Chapter 11, called “The Second Greatest of These”, is an odd man out from the testimonial format, as I seek to temper the fearsome task of “doubt” with a generous helping of “hope”. It explains why my journey with faith (which didn’t so much begin in “fear” as was the case with many of the other contributors) began with questioning and underwent some pretty ground-shaking revisions but hasn’t terminated in the wastelands of “doubt”–the normally assumed and feared trajectory. I’m keen to stand at the bottom of the slippery slope and let everyone know that this is not the end of the ride: for many of us who’ve learned from and embraced the hard lessons of humility on our way down, the bottom of the slope is not a crash landing but a launchpad to better things. My main point is this: doubt is important to accept as a lesson in humility, but it shouldn’t be a destination.
The book is quite affordable, so check it out. And if you do, please drop by and let me know what you thought of it!
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- Mondays with MacDonald (on faith as action) I think this will throw some light upon the words of our Lord, “If ye have faith and doubt not, if ye shall say unto...
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Stephen Douglas - Mon, 05/27/2013 - 17:35
In his novel, Paul Faber, Surgeon, George MacDonald indicated that he would have agreed with a substantial part of Pope Francis’s recent positive remarks about moral atheists:
But such as Faber was, he was both loved and honored by all whom he had ever attended; and, with his fine tastes, his genial nature, his quiet conscience, his good health, his enjoyment of life, his knowledge and love of his profession, his activity, his tender heart–especially to women and children, his keen intellect, and his devising though not embodying imagination, if any man could get on without a God, Faber was that man. He was now trying it, and as yet the trial had cost him no effort: he seemed to himself to be doing very well indeed. And why should he not do as well as the thousands, who counting themselves religious people, get through the business of the hour, the day, the week, the year, without one reference in any thing they do or abstain from doing, to the will of God, or the words of Christ? If he was more helpful to his fellows than they, he fared better; for actions in themselves good, however imperfect the motives that give rise to them, react blissfully upon character and nature. It is better to be an atheist who does the will of God, than a so-called Christian who does not. [It is not] the atheist [who] will…be dismissed because he said Lord, Lord, and did not obey.
The thing that God loves is the only lovely thing, and he who does it, does well, and is upon the way to discover that he does it very badly. When he comes to do it as the will of the perfect Good, then is he on the road to do it perfectly–that is, from love of its own inherent self-constituted goodness, born in the heart of the Perfect. The doing of things from duty is but a stage on the road to the kingdom of truth and love. Not the less must the stage be journeyed; every path diverging from it is “the flowery way that leads to the broad gate and the great fire.”
If loving what is good for its own sake is indeed the path to the perfect, then many a moral atheist is further along the narrow way to redemption than those Christians who think that goodness is defined by God’s arbitrary whims and who obey out of the belief that God demands it. Good is done either way, but the faithful child of God will seek not only to obey, but to love what is commanded and recognize its intrinsic goodness.
The objectiveness of goodness that apologists is touted as unaccountable in atheistic morality–yet ironically it is the atheist (or believer) behaving morally just because it’s the unmotivated “right thing to do” who is closer to God’s heart. Believers should certainly find common ground with those who act in the interests of Goodness, which is God, and find that these who are in that way with Him are not at all against Him.
- Mondays with MacDonald (on inadequate models of God as Father) There may be among my readers—alas for such!—to whom the word Father brings no cheer, no dawn, in whose heart it rouses no tremble of...
- Mondays with MacDonald (on the Christian response to hell) “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” “Love your enemies, and ye shall be the children of the...
- Mondays with MacDonald (on synergism) The one originating, living, visible truth, embracing all truths in all relations, is Jesus Christ. He is true; he is the live Truth. His truth,...
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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation: An Introduction to the Work of James Stuart Russell
Local PP Blogs - Tue, 03/05/2013 - 23:28
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