Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts On A Sad Review

On I read a review for the book Evolving In Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans. When I saw the review, only 1 of 4 people voted to say it was useful, but I felt the reviewer presented some interesting points.


But after reading the book, I felt a bit sad for Evans. She doesn't seem too sure about anything really. She's not sure she's saved (pg.133), she's not sure there's such a thing as a biblical worldview (pg.193), and she's not sure that hell is eternal (pg.224).

While I haven't read the book, I've watched the book video with the author discussing the book. The basic premise seems to be that she has found a way to hold onto her faith even though she has many questions about the things she had been taught. I'll have to say that as I watched the video and read the sales material I kept wanting to offer a quote from The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." In this case, instead of the word inconceivable it is the word faith that has a meaning in question.

The way many people use the word faith is in reference to the denomination they belong to and this is likely the way Rachel is using it. Another way people use it is similar to the way they use the word hope or as a means of positive thinking. A person has a strong desire for something—a publishing contract for example—and someone says, "I have faith that you'll get it." But when the Bible uses the word faith it isn't talking about belief with no basis; it is talking about the belief that God will do what he said he will do. Without a word from God, faith has no basis.

You've no doubt heard the phrase "standing on the promises of God." In a nutshell, that is what faith is. Throughout history, God has given us many promises. Some are big promises, like promising that Jesus would come to save us from our sins. Others are much smaller. When a mother has a sick child prays for the child's healing and feels the Holy Spirit telling her that the child will recover, that is also a promise. When she gets up off her knees and praises God for the promise, that is faith.

In reading some of Rachel's stuff, it appears that she filters the Bible through her world view and struggles to accept things like the six day creation of the world, the destruction of people who lived in Canaan and what she calls her least favorite passage in all of scripture, 1 Timothy 2. She says, "Maybe God wants us to have these discussions [about biblical interpretation] because faith isn't just about being right; it's about being a part of a community." I strongly disagree. While community is important, the reason God put the things he did in the Bible is so that we would come to a better understanding of him. Why create the world by speaking it into existence instead of a process of random selection? Because it reveals the awesome power of God. Scientists have speculated that for random selection to do that it would take millions of years. And they aren't even sure if it is possible for random selection to do it. God spoke and did it in six days. Wow! Why would God tell the children of Israel destroy the people in Canaan? Because God is a jealous God and refuses to allow any other gods before him. If that doesn't convince you that hell is eternal, I don't know what will. God wants the worship of his creation and will accept nothing less. Why did Paul say what he did about women? Because God desires that things be done decently and in order. I'll go into that more tomorrow.

Questions are fine, but we need to understand that God gave us answers. When we realize that the Bible is about Jesus and not about us, many of the questions disappear.