Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Searching Issues by Nicky Gumbel

Searching IssuesSearching Issues by Alpha USA
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's really hard to write a review for this book, because the issues discussed in this 100 plus page book are so huge that I could easily write a 100 page review just telling my thoughts about how Mr. Gumbel addressed these issues. At least the ones I've figured out completely. Yeah, that sounds as confusing as it feels.

I think that it's easy to take a "baby with the bathwater" approach to Christianity. You assume that because you put your faith in Jesus, then all the tough things in life go away. Not at all the case. Those tough questions will always be there. Because we are thinking people, and we are also emotional. God wired us that way, and he gives us the free choice to think and feel as he created us to do. God is good in that he allows us the room to make up our minds, and gives us the information to approach those decisions open-eyed.

So if people ask hard questions like Why does God allow suffering?, you end up either giving answers that over-simplify the question or give an answer that leaves the questioner with more to think about than they had before they asked. The same goes for other issues in the Christian faith. Big huge ones like sexuality, New Age beliefs, the so-called conflict between science and Christian faith, and the Trinity. Overall, I feel that Mr. Gumbel accomplishes what he set out to do. It helps that Gumbel is a lawyer, and he has a way of making clear, concise points. What makes it even better for me is that grace, truth and love always go together in this book. That is essential to the embodiment of Jesus Christ. And anyone who comes in the name of the Lord should always follow this model.

I do have to say that the segment on the Trinity really put my mind in a knot. Well, honestly, that doesn't surprise me. One God, three separate persons. Christians who have grown up in the faith accept this as the intrinsic part of what we believe. But when you sit down and look at it, it's just mind-boggling. Probably didn't help that I read this part at two in the morning either. God is so beyond what my mind can encompass, but I don't want a life without him. He's just part of who I am and I relish the opportunity to walk through this life and have him reveal more of who is is to me with every step I take while I live on this earth, until I am in his presence one day. I am glad that he thought enough to give me a tangible view of him in Jesus Christ. I'm a thinking person and a feeler, and that makes the walk of faith both an exciting one and a confusing one at times. Sometimes heart and head are declaring war against each other, and you don't know which to believe.

That takes you back to the "baby and the bathwater" conundrum. If I find it hard to accept one aspect of my faith, does that devalue the whole thing, or is that where faith comes in? Can I accept that having faith in Jesus Christ gives me the support to walk through life and the power to get through circumstances I don't always understand? As well as accepting that some things are just what they are and I have to accept that and ask him for the strength to do what he requires of me as a follower of him, even if that means going against the crowd or what everyone else believes to be true. Faith is when you take what information you have and keep walking in the direction you want to go. And I want to go wherever Jesus will lead me.

I knew this would be a crazy review. It's just hard to pin these incredible questions down into salient points. Hats off to Nicky Gumbel that he was brave enough and empowered to try.

It's a good book to read for Christians and want to be Christians who have some hard questions about the faith and how certain things relate to the Christian faith.

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