Monday, January 02, 2006

Book: Disappointment with God

Philip Yancey is a Christian writer who is not afraid to show the real grittiness of life. In his books there are no easy answers to life’s struggles, and he doesn’t console people with the superficial, sickly-sweet “God loves you”. There are few happy endings in the factual stories that he writes about.

Although I don’t often read Christian books that aren’t related to apologetics, I was particularly intrigued by Yancey’s account of Richard, a young Christian who looses his faith. Richard, who is writing a book on Job, slowly finds his faith falling apart. Despite the fact that Richard does everything right as a Christian, his life is plagued with struggle and pain. Eventually, he ends up loosing his faith entirely, and as a result he burns all his Christian books in his backyard. Yancey captures the de-conversion struggle well, and succeeds in painting a realistic picture of what it is like for someone to loose his or her faith. I can relate to this story. When I lost my faith I felt the same as Richard who says in the book: “A great weight had lifted. I had been honest with myself. Any pretense was gone, and I no longer felt the pressure to believe what I could never be sure of. I felt converted – converted from God”.

However, although Yancey accurately outlines what de-conversion can be like, he implies that Richard lost his faith as a result of the church and of the bad experiences in his life. Although these can be reasons why some leave the faith, Yancey doesn’t consider the third possibility that Christianity itself can be a major factor leading to de-conversion. From my own experience, I did not leave Christianity as a result of the church or of life’s struggles. Rather, I left because the claims and precepts of Christianity did not make sense to me any longer. I did not want to give up my faith, but I could no longer adopt a life philosophy that, in my mind, did not match what I observed in the world around me.

The rest of Disappointment with God was less interesting to me as a skeptic. Yancey’s guided tour of the Bible, highlighting the way God’s relationship changed with regards to humans, and offering of possible answers for life’s struggles from the book of Job, are all based on the assumption that the bible is true. This is okay, as Yancey himself admits that he does not write apologetics. For this reason I think this book is focussed more towards the struggling believer than the ex-Christian.

9 comments:

Kirsten said...

I walked away from the Lord for about 5 years after getting my pastoral License and being in intense ministry at a young age. The church politics gave me a very bad taste in my mouth and I decided that I didn't want to be a part anymore. Those 5 years were filled with events- but the thing that I regret the most- was walking away from the Lord's love and intimacy. Life's not perfect- because of sin. But God's love is always there...comforting. Life without the feeling that God is there- sucks. I will pray for you. Pray that the Holy Spirit will not leave you alone- That the presence of God will keep you up at night...that God's love will surround. That you will not be able to run from God's spirit. I gave my heart back to the Lord- and there is absolutely NO COMPARRISON. My GOD is real.

Anonymous said...

Science and all the knowledges in the world may prove that it is true
and it might deny God and the Bible.
But for me, I can't deny God because I feel God within me all the time.
Like you can't deny that strawberry is red, because I see red.[sorry bad example]
And God has emotions and feelings
like humans that if I leave him He will be heart-broken, and I can not dare to do that.
God might be heart-broken right now... because of you....

Chris mankey said...

That you will not be able to run from God's spirit. I gave my heart back to the Lord- and there is absolutely NO COMPARRISON. My GOD is real.

I'll pray god fucks you in the ass! SHUT UP CUNT CUNT CUNT CUNT!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris -

You drive me to tears with your eloquence LOL - that last line especially - now THAT is imitating Jesus :)

Kevin Parry said...

I get these kind of comments from time to time. I can't really decide if it's a bunch of spotty faced kids fooling around, or if it's really disgruntled Christians. I've come to believe that it's the former, because someone who exhibits that kind of immaturity is clearly not serious about Christianity, or about what Jesus taught.

Love said...

to Chris -

Your comment demonstrates a lack of consideration for those who are reading, and is very offensive to true Christians. It is very wrong to pray for God to harm someone else. If you really are a Christian, you need to repent and owe Kevin an apology. There is not a testimony powerful enough to cause someone to reject knowing God than the apparent hypocrisy from those who claim to know Him.

To Kevin -

I'm sorry that you have lost faith in Christ. There was a time in my life when I lost faith as well. I took that time to tell God how I was really feeling. I yelled at Him, cussed at Him, shook my fist at Him, and even said to Him, "I want nothing to do with You!" It's very easy to lose sight of God's faithfulness because of what we see around us.

Now, I'm not going to condemn you or hit you over the head with the Bible. Instead, I'm going to say that God still loves you. I'm going to say that I agree with you - it really doesn't make sense. Lastly, I'm going to say that what we see around us will eventually end and ONE DAY everything will make sense. We are not guaranteed to stay on this earth and be imprisoned by our humanity forever.

NoBBAnymore said...

I am 50ish and up to a few years ago a firm believer.
Even after a big family problem I tried to do what the Bible said, forgive and forget and all that. Dad's a pastor, Mom is a writer of some Christian literature. 

Slowly I couldn't make sense of my faith anymore, it was a gradual and steady departure. And I have to share the feeling of freedom and personal gain mentioned here twice before, by Richard in the book and the blogger as well.

If you buy a car that advertises 200 mph, capacity for 5 people and bumper to bumper warranty for life and then u find out that it only does 60 mph, seats 2+a small dog and the warranty is only for a year on the seat covers, something doesn't add up. Something is wrong.

When everybody in church was speaking in tongues, and I asked God: " why not me?" and u get the answer from an elder: "not EVERYBODY will speak in tongues" that contradicts directly with "ask the Father and he will give it to you" they make u feel u are the foul smelly sinner and you are being chastised for that.

It's the old story of the carrot on the stick. I feel I've changed my diet and I feel much better now.

Aussie said...

Church is family. A family might not agree all the time, but we are still family. You might not live in the house anymore, but you still care, you are still attached.
I said to my son in a remand centre once,
" Jase. I don't agree with your actions but I want you to know that you are my son. I love you no matter what it is that you have done."
My son is now drug and alcohol free. He became a Christian and now is married with children.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kev,

Are you sure that Christianity doesn't make sense? Or is it the principle the Christians taught? What you heard was a message translated in the minds of others first. Sometimes, what they convey was their own message, not God's.

Example: we all heard that we are sheep, so we thought we are to be harmless, defenseless, don't have to do anything, God will provide anyway. The favorite all-time verse is God is my shepherd.
But Jesus said that he sent us as sheep in the midst of wolves. We have to be wiser than the wolves in order to survive.

If we look carefully, a lot of modern principles in the world actually written in the bible. But I saw a lot of Christians don't use those principles because it's "not biblical".
Example: planning. Some Christians says that planning means we don't have enough faith, while Jesus said that we have to plan everything in detail, even our walk with Him.
Common sense. A lot of Christians in their strive to be "different from the world" doesn't want to use anything the world uses, including common sense. We see Jesus always use common sense in His parables, "Which of you, if this happens, don't do that?"

Really, the only reason people left their faith is that they didn't see the true image of Jesus we, Christians, should reflect. Like I said, things are lost in translation.

I respect your decision Kev. My only hope is you still keep your options open, so when you see that true image, you are willing to come back. I'll pray for you, God loves you.