In Prism's Book Bag – AN EXAMINED FAITH: THE GRACE OF SELF-DOUBT by James M. Gustafson

Image credit:

When both George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden cite God as being on their side, it dramatically illustrates the public use and contemporary clash of religious languages. But even more common, says renowned ethicist James Gustafson, is the everyday dissonance between religious language and the many "secular" interpretations of the same events. How do Christians understand providence, divine action, and other religious realities in our complex, multivalent world?

In this important work, expanded from his Princeton Warfield Lectures, Gustafson strongly urges Christians to take a hard look at their religious discourse and its relationship to all the other discourses – scientific, secular, philosophical — that inform our worldview. Pastors, theologians, and laypeople alike, he argues, regularly and unthinkingly accommodate their religious views to these other realms, or allow their religious views to be manipulated for other purposes.

Gustafson sets out a helpful typology of relationships, from complete religious rejection of secular discourse to full accommodation. Citing contemporary thinkers and examples from a full range of fields, he challenges Christians to a greater self-consciousness and honesty about their religious commitments and doctrinal formulations.

As relevant to the pulpit as to the podium and the political stump, Gustafson's brief, thoughtful volume calls all Christians to face the hard intellectual work that is necessary to forge an honest and publicly relevant faith today.

An Examined Faith is published by Augsburg Fortress Publishers (2003) and can be found here.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You May Also Want to Read

  • Holy Week brings us from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Resurrection Day, from triumph to tragedy back to triumph.…

  • Edited by Tripp York and Andy Alexis-Baker (Cascade Books, 2013) Reviewed by Sarah Withrow King When I was pregnant with…

Comment policy: ESA represents a wide variety of understandings and practices surrounding our shared Christian faith. The purpose of the ESA blog is to facilitate loving conversation; please know that individual authors do not speak for ESA as a whole. Even if you don\'t see yourself or your experience reflected in something you read here, we invite you to experience it anyway, and see if God can meet you there. What can take away from considering this point of view? What might you add? The comments section below is where you can share the answers to those questions, if you feel so moved. Please express your thoughts in ways that are constructive, purposeful, and respectful. Give those you disagree with the benefit of the doubt, and assume they are neither idiots nor evil. Name-calling, sweeping condemnations, and any other comments that suggest you have forgotten that we are all children of God will be deleted. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.