Introduction: "I want to believe differently."
The following is an excerpt from chapter 1, taken from here. You can also listen to a reading of the chapter or download a .pdf of the whole chapter here.
I especially appreciate Doug's honesty here, right at the beginning of the book, clearing confessing his faith, but admitting to his unbelief in the prevailing systems of Christianity and struggle to believe differently.
I am a Christian — a theologically trained, church-planting, evangelizing, Jesus-loving Christian. I trust in resurrection, and I seek to join with God in the world. But I have problem, an internal conflict that has only gotten worse in my twenty years of following this faith. It’s the kind of problem I tell others about with great caution and no small amount of anxiety.
I am a Christian, but I don’t believe in Christianity.
At least I don’t believe in the versions of Christianity that have prevailed for the last fifteen hundred years, the ones that were perfectly suitable in their time and place but have little connection with this time and place. The ones that answer questions we no longer ask and fail to consider questions we can no longer ignore. The ones that don’t mesh with what we know about God and the world and our place in it. I want to be very clear: I am not conflicted because I struggle to believe. I am conflicted because I want to believe differently.
Have you felt this tension before, between loving Jesus, but not loving Christianity? Where has it led you? What particular parts of the "versions of Christianity" do you struggle with, disagree with, or give you problems? Is it possible to be a Christian but not believe in Christianity? How will that affect your involvement in church and with other Christians?
Perhaps the most important questions are, if you have felt this tension, how have you successfully resolved it or found answers? Where do you find hope, even within Christianity? Obviously in the book Doug goes on to offer, as the subtitle states, "a hope-filled, open-armed, alive and well faith for the left-out, left-behind and let-down." But it may be important first to recognize that there are many who love Jesus, but are feeling beat down and disappointed with the versions of Christianity that are commonly offered.