BONNIE KRISTIAN shows that a vibrant diversity within Christian orthodoxy-which is simply to say a range of different ways to faithfully follow Jesus-is a strength of our faith, not a weakness.
It is all too easy to fail to grasp the diversity of the Christian faith-especially for those who have grown up in one branch of the church and never explored another. We fail to realize how many ways there are to follow Jesus, convinced that our own tradition is the one Christian alternative to nonbelief.
A FLEXIBLE FAITH is written for the convinced and confused believer alike. It is a readable exploration of the lively theological diversity that stretches back through church history and across the spectrum of Christianity today. It is an easy introduction to how Christians have historically answered key questions about what it means to follow Jesus. Chapters will include 17 big theological questions and answers; profiles of relevant figures in church history; discussion questions; single-page Q&As-profiles of more unusual types of Christians (e.g., a Catholic nun or a member of an Amish community); and a guide to major Christian denominations today.
As Bonnie shares her wrestlings with core issues-such as who Jesus is, what place the Church has in our lives, how to disagree yet remain within a community, and how to love the Bible for what it actually is-she teaches us how to walk courageously through our own tough questions.
Following Jesus is big and it is something that individual believers, movements, and denominations have expressed in uncountably different ways over the centuries. In the process of helping us sort things out, Bonnie shows us how to be comfortable with diversity in the Body. And as we learn to hold questions in one hand and answers in the other, we will discover new depths of faith that will remain secure even through the storms of life.
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About the Author
BONNIE KRISTIAN is a theological and political writer with a national following. She is the weekend editor at The Week and a foreign policy fellow at Defense Priorities, and her work has appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, Politico, USA Today, Relevant Magazine, The Hill, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.
Table of Contents
Foreword Dr. Gregory A. Boyd xiii
Introduction: Why should anyone read this book? 1
Chapter 1 What does it mean to say the Bible is God's Word? 9
Q&A: Common Purse Community Clare Stober 22
Chapter 2 Does God plan everything that happens? 26
Q&A: Seventh-day Adventist Church Geoff Crowley 36
Chapter 3 How did we get here? 40
Q&A: Native American Followers of Jesus Randy Woodley 48
Chapter 4 How does Jesus' dying mean that we can be saved? 51
Q&A: Eastern Orthodox Monasticism Sister Margarete 61
Chapter 5 Does being a Christian make you stop sinning? 64
Q&A: Latin American Base Community Armando Márquez Ochoa 71
Chapter 6 Why do we have to get baptized? 75
Q&A: Pentecostalism Rev. Dr. Simon Chan 86
Chapter 7 What does the Lord's Supper mean? 89
Q&A: Benedictine Monasticism Sister Paula Hagen 97
Chapter 8 Are Christians supposed to do miracles? 100
Q&A: Underground Church Jim 107
Chapter 9 Are men and women equal in the church and home? 110
Q&A: Coptic Orthodox Church Deacon Daniel Malyon 120
Chapter 10 Are gay relationships sinful? 124
Q&A: Quakerism Philip Gulley 134
Chapter 11 Are Christians allowed to be rich? 137
Q&A: Charismatic Movement Dr. Charles Karuku 145
Chapter 12 Can Christians be violent? 148
Q&A: Messianic Judaism Laurie Lezak 157
Chapter 13 Should Christians vote? 160
Q&A: Liberation Theology Diana L. Hayes 171
Chapter 14 Once you're saved, is it permanent? 175
Q&A: Christian Pacifism Brian Zahnd 182
Chapter 15 What happens to people who never hear about Jesus? 186
Q&A: Christian Intentional Community Natalie De Laurell 196
Chapter 16 Does God really torment people in hell forever? 199
Q&A: Racial Reconciliation Khristi Adams 208
Chapter 17 What happens at the end of the world? 211
Q&A: Amish Community (Bill & Tricia Moser) 223
Chapter 18 What's with all these churches? 226
Conclusion: How do we live with the diversity within orthodoxy? 247
About the Author 254
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"A Flexible Faith" delves into all those questions you've always wanted to ask about theology, but were afraid or discouraged to do so. This is not a light read, but it is an informative one and leads to many definitions of ideas, theology, hard issues and even explores denominational mores. Why do people believe what they believe? How does a Catholic differ from a Baptist? What is a charismatic? What are YOUR belief systems? Who are these founders of denominations and belief systems? What does the Bible say about it all? Where and how does Jesus fit into these churches or groups? Bonnie explores challenging topics and opens a door to how and why others believe what they do. I enjoyed delving into the 'backstory' of many denominations and organizations. Bonnie's style is easy to understand and she has a conversational, rather than adversarial, way of sharing this information with the reader. She shares stories of those who have served and learned before us in the faith. There are short biographies, discussion questions and the author's personal viewpoints peppered in the chapters. There are also "elevator pitches" for many different, and perhaps, misunderstood, groups or people of faith. We would all do well to take the time to examine our own belief systems and be able to express the WHYs to those who don't believe like we do. Bonnie's book does this in a way that makes you want to invite others into the conversation of faith, without the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. We are made for community, after all. I read an advanced reader PDF to review. I enjoyed this work very much, and all opinions are my own.
Bonnie Kristian has created an amazing resource in A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today. Even after having taken college classes on religions and studying the doctrines of other denominations I still felt I was able to learn new and interesting things. Her inclusion of a Q&A section following each chapter was a wonderful addition. I feel that this is a book that not only allows us to wrestle with our own faith but to better understand the history and rationale that has gone into other denominations and faith walks as well. I realized that as open-minded as I might try to be I still had some pre-conceived ideas related to denominations outside of my own. I really appreciated the way that Bonnie incorporated parts of her own journey of faith and belief in various areas without pushing any particular view on the reader. I found this book current and relevant as it left the reader to contemplate and even wrestle with the various views of how faith relates to the hot-button topics of our current culture related to same-sex marriage, politics, violence. Bonnie does an excellent job of presenting the reader with information and historical context and leaving the reader to explore their own faith and beliefs in a deeper way. I found very helpful the fact that she includes readings suggestions for the various denominations and doctrines that she explores. This struck me as a very well thought out book and one that could easily serve as a primer for those new to the faith and the language of doctrine. It also, however, serves as a great resource for those more mature in their faith but who want to go a little deeper in their understanding of others perspectives.