I launched my free e-book, A Poke In The Faith, in 2016. It shows how many traditional evangelical beliefs have come under question in recent years. And this, not by enemies of the Christian faith, but by solid, committed followers of Jesus who have been bold enough to query some aspects of their faith.
My aim in writing the book was, first, to spell out some of the challenges being made—most of which I’m in sympathy with, but others not—and, second, to show how it’s possible to face up to them without losing your own faith.
The latter came, in turn, out of the grim awareness of an increasing number of Christians who have jacked in their faith all together. And the reason they have done so, it appears, is because they have held to an inter-connected belief system in which every item is linked to all the rest. As a result, if an attack on one item brings it down, the whole belief-system comes crashing down with it.
In my book, therefore, I set out to show that you don’t have to have a tightly inter-connected system. That sets you free, then, to let go of—or adopt a different view of—certain items without having the whole faith-structure collapse around you.
Since the book went public on my website, I’ve had a steady flow of responses from people in many countries who have found it helpful in just the way I intended, which is gratifying. Most of these have been Christians with a long evangelical history. Many of them have been questioning certain aspects for years, but have never dared make it known, for fear of being thought to be ‘backsliders’.
Naturally, I’ve also had a handful of vitriolic responses writing me off as an irretrievable heretic!
A few of the topics covered are:
- Heaven and hell
- What happened at the cross?
- Creation and evolution
- Interpreting the Bible
- Belief-systems like Calvinism
- What the Bible is and is not
- The meaning of ‘justification’
- What exactly is ‘the gospel’?
- The kingdom of God
- Christianity and other religions
In December 2019 I updated A Poke In The Faith to its Second Edition. This involved a few minor tweaks to the text, plus three new topics:
- A section on ‘the wrath of God’
- A chapter on the doctrine of ‘original sin’
- A chapter applying current thinking on Bible interpretation to the fraught topic of homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular
Hard on the heels of this, in August 2020, came the Third Edition. This added material on God and the problem of evil. In particular, it addressed the issue of why, if God is both loving and all-powerful, does he not do more to stop it? And, more recently still, the Fourth Edition appeared, with minor amendments and some material on the Bible viewed as ‘wisdom’ literature.
You can download the latest edition for free here. It’s available in PDF, Kindle and epub formats which, between them, mean you can read it on any computer, tablet or phone. I invite you to give it a read in the hope that, along with many other readers, you will find it informative and, hopefully, liberating.
The same link will give you access to my other current free e-book, Signposts To God. This is an evangelistic book aimed at people who at present don’t have any active faith but are beginning to feel their way towards God. Please don’t hesitate to download it and pass it on to anyone you feel might find it helpful.
And if you have any feedback to offer, I’d be very happy to receive it. You can email me via the link on my website at www.davidmatthew.org.uk
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