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book review: “o me of little faith” by jason boyett

May 2, 2010

[This review is written as a part of Jason’s blog tour — as a habitual reader of his blog, this opportunity was too good to pass up. You know me and free books. I can’t resist.]

Can Christians doubt and still be Christians?

If you’re a follower of Jesus, this question has probably been bandied about in your head more than once. In fact, I would say out of all the questions I have about this faith I build my life and my story around, this question carries the most weight because it is the question that all my other questions hinge on.

In his newest book, blogger/writer Boyett confronts this very topic in a way that is open, honest, flexible, curious and refreshing. To me, he wrote the book that in some sense all us doubters (I include myself) have been writing in our heads for years. The thing I like the most about this book is that it doesn’t answer the questions; actually if anything, it asks more questions. What it does do is explore the relationship between faith and doubt, searching for a flexibility of grace, a compassionate space where you can follow Jesus even when you have no clue what He’s doing and aren’t sure you entirely trust Him.

Growing up in a conservative Southern Baptist church where people seemed to audibly correspond with God like a celestial pen pal, Boyett struggles to reconcile this idea that God is as present or as involved as we may think. If God worked so hard to get us that good parking spot, then why isn’t He in Africa, providing for the 30,000 people who will die today because they don’t have clean water? If God loves us, then why is making decisions and choosing a path in life so risky, difficult and fraught with failures? If God is talking to me, then what the heck is He saying and why can’t I hear Him?

His conclusion is based around the idea of a hidden God that manifested in the physical presence of Jesus on earth — a sentence sounds nice and churchy, but in fact is examining a God that is far more mysterious and complex than the Americanized, buddy-Jesus culture of the last 100 years had told us. As Boyett wrestles with this idea as Jacob wrestled with the angel (token Bible reference!), his thoughts and explorations of it are rough-edged, hard and demanding. The entire book wrestles and stretches with grace to a point that one might think it would break; but instead, for me, it is teaching me that doubt keeps our faith healthy. It brings us back to the dirty, careworn, humble feet of a grace that’s big enough and loving enough that it can handle our doubt. This book reminded me that Jesus never asked us to give up our doubt; instead, He simply invites us to walk with Him and offers to carry our doubts for us.

“I love the idea of a two-handed faith. I understand the concept of a faith that is suspended, like an electrical line, between two opposite poles. One of my poles is doubt. But my line of faith remains in place because it’s tethered to my other pole — my continued reliance on the revolutionary grace that Jesus showed to sinners and outcasts and doubters.” [p. 79]

I would highly recommend to this book to anyone who finds themselves in a journey of faith where the road seems heavier with potholes, detours, missing signs and lack of directions from above than people might have you believe. You won’t be alone — Jason will be there too, and so will I. (And if we want to get theological, so will Jesus.)

This book just released on Saturday, May 1.

Buy on Amazon
Jason’s Website

[Photo credit: Amazon.com]

**Later note: Just a quick note to say thanks to Jason for Tweeting this as one of his favorite reviews so far. I am flattered, blushing and, well, just tickled pink. Thanks, Jason!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 11:28 am

    Thanks for posting this review Caroline. What does Jason say about the apostle Thomas or does he address the issue of Thomas’s doubts. I came across an essay by an atheist recently who used the story of Thomas doubting Jesus’s resurrection to prove that Christians are not supposed to think (i.e. question or use evidence or reasoning) about their faith. It’s amusing that atheists take the Bible literally in order to argue against it.

  2. Caroline permalink*
    May 12, 2010 11:48 am

    @ Jeff!

    Jason only alludes briefly to Thomas in this book, connecting that his (Jason) middle name is Thomas, so it seems only appropriate that he is a born doubter. I don’t know, when you think about it, a lot of the apostles were doubters. Sure, they were zealous and dropped everything to follow the Rabbi, but they also had many times where they questioned, they didn’t get it, they doubted, they rejected and they screwed up. If those are the kinds of people Jesus asks to follow Him, then we’re in good company, I think.

    I don’t know much about atheists and arguments, other than I know a lot of atheists and love and respect them. I think a lot of people, atheist and Christian, use the Bible to prove their own points, rather than the other way around. If anything, our lives and stories should feed out of the truth of the Good News — that Jesus is restoring the world and we are part of it.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten off-track! Thank you for your comment. I’d highly recommend this book and hope you pick up a copy. Thanks for reading!

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