Friday, May 9, 2014

Review of "Letters from a Skeptic"

I love brainy books from time to time, and Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity by theology professor turned megachurch pastor Greg Boyd fits the bill. Not only is the book a compilation of apologetic essays from a very smart person, but a dual between Boyd and his then agnostic father Edward Boyd as they exchanged correspondence over a period of three years back in the early 1990s, culminating with the senior Boyd's joyful conversion at age 70!

These 30 letters were a quick and interesting read as Edward Boyd raises some of the most common criticisms to the Christian faith, while also revealing deep-rooted hurts from his past, including the premature death of Greg's mother.

The father and son touch on issues that anyone seriously considering or contending for the Christian faith should chew on: reconciling unthinkable human violence with an all-powerful and loving God and understanding why God gave humans free will, the nature and occupants of hell, the sometimes odd and mythical nature of many Bible stories, and how and why Christ's death is God's acceptable propitiation for mankind's sin. I suppose some Christians might find places to nitpick with some of the responses. For example, the younger Boyd is slightly open ended about whether Hell is eternal conscious torture or whether those sent there will eventually cease to exist and cites verses that could validate either view. This might bother some Christians who feel the strength and quality of their faith relies on their level of certainty on all matters of theology. I'm not one of them, so I found Boyd's answers to be sensitive, intellectual and nuanced in a way that really invited and encouraged faith.

Overall, the author's thoughtful responses encouraged me to test the rational ground on which I base my own faith, and it was exciting to watch Edward Boyd's gradual salvation unfold. Also valuable is the way the younger Boyd models a loving, respectful, hopeful attitude as he witnesses to his father, who in early letters expresses his disbelief that his Yale and Princeton educated son would "buy into" Christian beliefs. Whether or not they agree on all the minutia of his answers, I think all Christians can learn from Pastor Boyd's example and be encourage by the result.

As with many of the books I review and reflect upon in this blog, you can find the hard copy of Letters from a Skeptic at the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library... as soon as I return it!

No comments:

Post a Comment