A new book published by Fortress Press of Minneapolis has caught my attention and stimulated my imagination. Why Christian? For Those on the Edge of Faith by Douglas John Hall.
In a series of imagined conversations with a Generation-X person, Hall explains in modern terms the facts of the Christian religion. In a series of essays prepared in response to questions, Hall explains that the current generation is not fighting Christianity as was the case thirty years ago. They just do not know much about it.
He suggests that there is a craving curiosity about it and at the same time a perceived need to keep it at arms length just in case it might be catching as has been observed in the case of those who have succumbed to the dubious charms of TV preachers and other Bible thumpers and pulpit pounders. He then discusses the anemic “mainline” denominations and in particular those that are often characterized as “liberal”. The concept of “nice people” and “nice church” is explored along with a very substantial and sensible discussion of the Bible.
Uniquely Hall delves into the notion of “doubting faith” or “faithful doubt” as being essential to the formation of an informed Christian person. His comments concerning “literalism” and “inerrancy” views often put forward by more fundamentalist Christian Bible promoters are especially valuble. Dr. Hall asserts that there is a vast spiritual emptiness “out there”. He states that the ancient question of every middle-aged man who on coming face to face with his own mortality poses, “Is all there is? Is there nothing more?” is being left to stand, unanswered, by standard brand, mainline Christian entities who have not a clue.
Nature, as we all know, abhors a vacuum and will seek by every means to fill it. The feeling of “superfluity”, which Hall asserts, prevails world wide, and each life is made thereby to seem inconsequential at best. The subtitle of this work “for those on the edge of faith” is an apt indicator of the worth of this book. It may be helpful in guiding those in that position away from the edge of the abyss toward a firmer, well-grounded and informed faith. I recommend this work to those on the edge and to those who are already in the faith so that they may have a better idea of what is going on today in the Christian religion as it may or may not impact on people.