Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walking Away from the Faith Pt.3

Part two of Walking Away from the Faith by Ruth Tucker “explores major challenges to the Christian Faith” (80). Chapter six analyzes doubt and unbelief in the history of Christianity. It looks at doubt and unbelief in the Bible. Some of the individuals discussed are Judas, John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas. Tucker notes, “From a cursory glance at New Testament figures we [have] seen an embodiment of faith that is not always unwavering and tidy. There is tension, uncertainty and messiness” (88). The chapter concludes that there has always been doubt and unbelief among Christians. It is not a new thing. Tucker, however, asserts “never before have Christians who live in Christian cultures have been faced with belief systems suffused with philosophical and practical atheism” (96). Chapter seven presents the challenge from science and philosophy. Some of the people discussed in this chapter are Nietzche, Voltaire, Hume, Kant, and Charles Darwin. Once again she shows how Emily Dickinson can help one who struggles with doubt and unbelief. Tucker writes notes, “Dickinson was a doubter. Yet despite her struggles with Darwin’s theories and other scientific discoveries, her doubts never progressed to the point of unbelief” (110). This was not true of everyone. The author states that Darwin’s theories did pave the way of unbelief for others. Chapter seven describes the challenges from theology and Biblical studies in the academy. The author thinks that doubting supernatural events, “apparent textual contradictions and the problem of evil” are the things that lead once-professing Christians to abandon their faith. She observes that two responses to skepticism of the scriptures are “lowering the truth standards” or “to dig in one’s heels and prove the truth of Christianity” (119).  She also notes how some walk away from the ministry because of doubt; while others “honestly and openly acknowledge doubt and unbelief while at the same time affirming faith” and continues in the ministry. Chapter nine discusses the challenges of psychology and social issues. Some of the people discussed in this chapter are Dostoyevsky, Freud, William James, and Jung. Tuckers note how James thought “unbelief is a shallow and unimaginative perspective that is overly dependent on science” (142). James is important because he shows how religious experience is a form of knowing. Chapter ten discussed how disappointment with God and Christians can lead to unbelief. One of the individuals she writes about in this chapter is Martin Marty. He lost his wife to a terminal illness. Marty spoke of the sense of God’s absence in the ordeal. Marty claims there are two types of spirituality: a wintery sort and a summery one. Tucker summarizes Marty’s words:
            The best answer Marty can offer is for people to come to terms with God and
themselves. Those who are troubled by a sense of abandonment and silence need not struggle for a summery spirituality—nor need they contemplate the option of walking away from the faith.
There is a place for them on the barren wintery landscape, where the January thaw may provide A welcome respite (164).

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