Let’s be honest: If you’ve never had questions about the Bible or God or your church, you’re probably not very engaged.
Because the more we read and see and experience, the more we wonder about the “truths” we’ve been taught. Nobody has it all figured out; if we did, we’d be God.
So what do we do? Turn off our brains and just pray for more faith? No, author Ed Cyzewski would say. Instead, he wrote a whole book to help us address the threats to our faith.
“Is doubt a good thing? Well, it’s certainly not God’s ideal. However, the consistent theme throughout Scripture is that God can work with people in the midst of their doubts. Doubt is not a deal breaker.“
A Christian Survival Guide doesn’t dismiss the questions we may or may not speak aloud, but it works through them.
Questions such as . . .
- What about all the violence in the Old Testament?
- Are there errors in the Bible?
- Who really goes to hell and exactly what is it?
- How does a good church go bad?
- How much of my money does Jesus need?
But you need to know this. Ed isn’t giving us the answers. He’s just helping us make peace with the questions. (And maybe figure out a couple answers too along the way).
He does this by staying centered on the one thing we DO know:
“There’s only one thing I know for certain about Christianity. In fact, it’s the only way I know to make it work: stay close to Jesus.”
In the end, our faith can be strengthened through questioning, not weakened, by always circling back to Jesus.
“We can’t provide bulletproof arguments to those determined to doubt. However, we can testify that meeting Jesus has radically reshaped our lives. We can testify that we once were blind, and now we see. A changed life is hard to disprove.”
I highlighted WAY too many lines in this book to share them all here. Here’s a sampling from the two parts, “Christian Beliefs” and “Christian Practices.”
On “Prayer: A still small voice for big loud problems” (Chapter 1)
“If Jesus made prayer an integral part of his life, what makes us think we can do any better without it? If anything, Jesus sent us a very important message about the practice and importance of prayer. Our survival as followers of Jesus depends on it. Since our Lord modeled prayer for us, we’d better figure out a place for it in our lives.”
On “The Bible: A source of crisis and hope” (Chapter 2)
“If there is one purpose for the Bible, it isn’t to prove that the Bible is true; it’s to help us meet God. At least, that’s what Jesus said. . . . The question for us today isn’t ‘Am I doing the Bible right?’ The question is this: ‘Am I living like Jesus?‘”
On “Deliver Us from Evil . . . Is God late?” (Chapter 4)
“I wish I could arrive at a more polished and complete ‘explanation’ for the questions in this chapter. . . . The most comforting explanation I can find for God’s relationship with pain and suffering is this brief verse of Scripture: ‘Jesus wept.'”
On “Errors in the Bible?: Fact-checking the Holy Spirit” (Chapter 6)
“While we have good reasons to affirm the truth of Scripture, we need to make sure we’re affirming it for the right reasons. The Bible is important, but it isn’t Jesus. Last I checked, no one says, ‘The Bible saves.‘”
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“Is the Bible true because we can prove it textually or because it accomplishes what it promises?”
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“The miracle of the Bible is that God still changes lives just as he said he would.”
On “Community: When bad churches happen to good people” (Chapter 12)
“Think about this for a moment: Could you take a cross section of your neighborhood, gather them in a room for an hour, and pick five songs and a lecture they would all agree on? Good heavens, just picking one song they all liked would be hard enough! Community is not for the faint of heart.”
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- Can you be quiet?
- Sometimes you do nothing