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Wrestling with Faith: Challenging problematic Bible stories to navigate crises of belief by Dan Harvey, PhD

Wrestling with Faith: Challenging problematic Bible stories to navigate crises of belief

by Dan Harvey, PhD

328 pages
The 21st century presents many challenges to faith. Are religious teachings still even relevant? Does religion do more harm than good? Combining personal stories and insights, the author of Wrestling with Faith explores these issues. He shares how he reconciled his doubts to again be able to consider himself a committed Christian.

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Category: Religion:Christianity
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About the Book
Christianity in America is experiencing a rapid decline. According to a Pew 2015 Research Report (America’s Changing Religious Landscape) those that identify themselves as Christian dropped 7% in just seven years (between 2007 and 2014). Meanwhile, those who consider themselves atheist or agnostic almost doubled (from 3.7% to 7.1%) in the same time period. The trend among young adults is even more dramatic. More than a third of those 37 and under are religiously unaffiliated.

For those who left the faith, we could ask why? How did you come to the point of leaving? There would be a variety of reasons, including ‘coverups of scandals,’ ‘an abusive family,’ ‘lack of answers in times of crisis,’ ‘the existence of evil in the world,’ and ‘past and present evil done by believers.’

More reasons can be unearthed with a fill in the blank question: Christians are _____. Expected answers include: ‘hypocritical,’ ‘judgmental,’ ‘gossips,’ ‘bigoted,’ ‘narrow-minded,’ and ‘uninformed.’

If we ask them another fill in the blank question: Christianity is ______, possible responses are ‘full of rules,’ ‘out of date,’ and ‘false.’

Of course, these stereotypical answers will be met with defensiveness and even anger from those whose faith remains strong. Nevertheless, the above responses are valid reasons for one to doubt and eventually turn away. The question is: ‘do believers have answers that go beyond simply quoting a bunch of Bible verses?’

When one is a member of a group, they subconsciously accept an inherent set of worldview assumptions. Some of these may be valid. Others, not so much. When we experience a faith crisis, we begin to question those assumptions; this means all of them. Everything is up-for-grabs. Even the existence of God is not for sure. So, simply repeating religious dogma with a louder voice will not work. It will not convince; it is bound to fail and drive a person further away.

There are many catalysts that can trigger a faith crisis. In my case, my son’s death was a first blow. This was followed by a second blow. I learned about the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse experienced by my wife and other missionary kids at Mamou Alliance Academy in Guinee. Then, we learned of similar atrocities committed by mainstream Christian denominations against indigenous children right up to the second half of the 20th century.

It was time to question everything. How can God allow these things to happen? Does He even exist? What do modern scientific discoveries have to say about evolution and the age of the Earth? Can a book like the Bible really be inerrant, or is it just a collection of ancient writings? The Old Testament is so violent and many of its laws seem so unreasonable. Why is modern Christianity focused on end time apocalyptic prophecies? TV evangelists use God manipulation strategies to prey on the week. So much seems to be emotionally-based wishful thinking.

So, my wife and I spent a number of years working through these issues. Eventually, with much difficulty, we found our way back to faith. The book, ‘Wrestling with Faith’ presents conclusions that work for us. I have to point out, that our issues might not be the same that others face. Our answers will most-certainly not resonate with everyone.

Nevertheless, we hope that this book will be helpful to those who are still hoping for answers. I believe that a living faith provides meaning to life. When we considered life without faith, we saw emptiness. In my wife’s words, a black void to fall into with no way back.

I hope you find the book engaging. In our journey, we’ve had many interesting open family conversations. Everyone was free to express their hopes, their fears, and their thoughts. May you be able to do the same.

Thanks for listening
By Dan Harvey, PhD Computer Science

 

Reviews
Open-minded Christian readers looking to navigate the sometimes-bumpy roads of belief, will find a kindred spirit in this author looking to rediscover the value of religion in the modern world.
- BlueInk Review, Feb 2019

 

 

About the Author
Dan Harvey, PhD Dr. Dan Harvey started his career in technology working for a number of fortune 100 corporations as a software consultant, and finally as president of a value-added reseller of computer systems. He then began a second career as a Computer Science professor. In 2005, Dr. Harvey launched the ACORNS project supporting tribal efforts to restore language and culture.

 

 

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