Believing friend and reader of this blog Julie Ferwerda sent me a copy of her book hot off the press. It’s called, “Raising Hell; Christianity’s most controversial doctrine put under fire.”
Julie deserves all kinds of accolades for this achievement, and I might not be the first to congratulate her, but I will rank among them. This is an accomplishment, and I can tell from its notes and citations that she put more scholarship into this book than Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel put into any one of their books.
I haven’t read it yet, so I have no real review yet. I flipped through it last night in bed, and it struck me in a couple ways.
One. I thought how cool it must feel to work on something and have it arrive in print. It’s almost as if there is an instant elevation to your feeling of worth and security. And this book isn’t mine. I can’t imagine how Julie must feel. Well done.
Two. Julie approaches the book that a person must be childlike in their curiosity. I couldn’t help but wonder how often we don’t do that. How often do we shed our minds of preconceptions to look at something fresh? It becomes almost impossible the older we get, right?
I can’t count how many times I was told that something was wrong thinking. Teachers, parents, friends. They all thought they knew what Jesus wanted, and told me to stop thinking and wondering and accept what they were saying.
“Why can’t you criticize Jesus?”
– “That’s wrong thinking”
“What if there’s not a heaven?”
– “There is a heaven.”
“What if we’re wrong?”
– “We are right.”
This isn’t a direct Criticism of Julie, but why even should a person believe in god or gods in the first place? Why the Christian god? Why not the Hindu gods or Buddha?
Julie obviously spent a lot of time researching. The book is likely much deeper and better researched than Rob Bell’s recent book “Love Wins” which she recognizes in the preface as well.
But what if Julie wasted a ton of research and life researching a book based on the idea that the Christian god is real, when he’s not? If the doctrine of hell isn’t right, what else is wrong?
I will likely approach this book as an adult with adult views. It will be hard to approach it without other research about Christianity. Hell was the first doctrine I stopped believing in as a young adult. It’s the easiest Christian doctrine to stop believing in. Once it went, the rest was just as easy to debunk. But hell is a tricky son of a bitch. Christianity is a tricky son of a bitch.
I skyped with regular-reader George W. last week. And we talked about how difficult it is to stop praying. The conditioning for religious activity is deeply engrained in the psyche. I’ve pretty successfully stopped. That doesn’t mean I don’t think, “Well, maybe God is out there listening to my thoughts” or “Maybe god is doing this to tell me something.”
I can admit I have doubts, and not just in private conversations. I am not sure of anything, because it’s then when I have given up. It’s then when I’m too lazy to check out all the information.
My believing friends, I wonder if they ever give credence to their curiosity. I wonder if they would put 1/5 or 1/6 of the effort Julie has into questioning one Christian doctrine through a pile of research.
My answer is no, they would not.
And that makes me sad.