From Fear to Faith

Just wanted to inform any readers I might still have here (I’ve been so negligent of this blog of late) that one of my old blog posts was revised and has just been published in a book edited by Travis Milam and Joel Watts (yes, that guy), called From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion). Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

There’s a stereotype of a young, zealous Christian who feels called to the ministry as a pastor, goes to seminary, and then loses his faith as he studies the writings of all those intellectuals and theologians. The stereotype may not be accurate, but there are those who fit this description, not to mention many who leave home for college as passionate Christians and come home unbelievers. More importantly, that stereotype represents a fear the fear that too much education or contact with those whose beliefs differ from those of a particular community will cause someone to lose their faith.

But there’s another group, much larger, but not heard nearly as frequently. This group consists of people who have gone from the position of fear that creates the stereotype to a position of faith, a faith that is no longer afraid of that outer darkness that looms outside the walls of their religious community. Indeed, they may not perceive any looming darkness at all.

From Fear to Faith, edited by Travis Milam and Joel L. Watts, gives voice to that too often unheard group. It is a collection of essays from those who have lived in fear, have faced the looming dark, collided with their share of brick walls, but have come out with a new-found faith and undismayed trust.

The journeys of faith presented in this book reveal a group deeply insightful and grounded minds, rich in thriving spirituality, joy, and hope. Where there was once trepidation in asking the tough questions of human existence, of the divine relationship with creation, there is now a certain hope found when these authors have struggled to overcome canyons of fear, leaving behind a life of black and white certitude, to live in a beautiful world of gray.

They have learned that having questions and even doubts does not reflect a lack of faith. Rather, hiding in fear from the serious questions indicates a lack of faith in the one who said, “Don’t be afraid.”

Come join in this journey from fear to faith.

Most of the essays in this volume are testimonials, what Pete Enns (one of the endorsers) summarized as “stories about leaving conservative churches.” And he’s right: there are some really good stories in here from insightful writers, such as my friend Mike Beidler.

My contribution in Chapter 11, called “The Second Greatest of These”, is an odd man out from the testimonial format, as I seek to temper the fearsome task of “doubt” with a generous helping of “hope”. It explains why my journey with faith (which didn’t so much begin in “fear” as was the case with many of the other contributors) began with questioning and underwent some pretty ground-shaking revisions but hasn’t terminated in the wastelands of “doubt”–the normally assumed and feared trajectory. I’m keen to stand at the bottom of the slippery slope and let everyone know that this is not the end of the ride: for many of us who’ve learned from and embraced the hard lessons of humility on our way down, the bottom of the slope is not a crash landing but a launchpad to better things. My main point is this: doubt is important to accept as a lesson in humility, but it shouldn’t be a destination.

The book is quite affordable, so check it out. And if you do, please drop by and let me know what you thought of it!

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  • Alice

    a faith that is no longer afraid of that outer darkness that looms
    outside the walls of their religious community. Indeed, they may not
    perceive any looming darkness at all.

    YES! That is it.

  • Shane

    Just read your chapter in the book…and then immediately read it again. I’ve recently experienced another bout of intense doubts, leading to a great deal of (also intense) existential angst; I’m faced with the implications of the type of universe that Dawkins describes, and it’s a toxic and terrifying place to be. Through all of this, the type of hope that you describe in your chapter (the Christian hope in the victory of love, and particularly in my case the victory over death) has been so important in me moving forward in faith. It’s hope, not certainty, but it’s better than the toxic air I’m currently breathing. I love your thought that maybe, just maybe, the air seems so toxic because our lungs were made for something different, and so hope is a taste of this something different and so feels like a breath of fresh air. Thank you for your helpful and honest insights.

    • So glad you dropped by to leave a note, Shane. I know I’ve found more rest and respite from ravaging doubt in hope than anywhere else. There’s enough to calm my fears and, in the overflow, it reminds me of the reasons I love our faith.