Mixing personal stories with theological, philosophical, and scientific insights, Dan Harvey, explores the difficulties of faith for 21st century believers.
At the center of his investigation is a common question: How can a supposedly loving God allow pain and suffering in the world? Drawing on his own experiences, including his 17-year-old son’s death, abuse suffered by his wife as a child at missionary boarding schools, and his work with the difficulties endured by indigenous American peoples, Harvey posits that many of the faithful turn a blind eye to the often rampant violence found in the Bible (e.g. the atrocious story of the gang rape of a Levite priest’s concubine and the mutilation and vengeance that follows).To do so, Harvey argues, undermines one’s faith and allows atheists, who don’t “avoid the difficult passages” to gain the upper hand in the ongoing debate between faith and reason.
Challenging the messages of problematic Bible stories; the tensions between mythology and history; miracles; Darwinism; the origins of moral frameworks in society, the author stresses the need for believers to ask intelligent questions and analyze their faith in a mature and open manner. Case in point: Harvey doesn’t reject the idea of an afterlife; too much anecdotal and religious evidence suggests otherwise. He argues instead that Christians need to move beyond a belief in hell and what results from that belief — namely shaming and the demonization of others.
Harvey is a thoughtful, probing writer who approaches his work with care and levelheadedness. He argues his points succinctly and logically, carrying his theses through from start to finish. Although a script for a play based on Revelation seems out of place at the end of his book, the author’s vulnerable and accessible style makes for enjoyable reading.
Open-minded Christian readers looking to navigate the sometimes-bumpy roads of belief, will find a kindred spirit in this author looking to rediscover the value of religion in the modern world.