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8 Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest, deep & more about faith than doubt., 30 Oct 2013
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Mr. R. Pennystan "RichardP" (Romiley, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty (Paperback)
I finished the final chapter put the book down & my immediate reaction was to praise Jesus and tell him that I love him, trust him and would love help from his Spirit with the many questions this book raised for me. This is a book that helped me to connect more deeply in relationship with God and that makes it very worthwhile.
I regularly read Greg Boyd's books & listen to his podcasts, I have found him to be one of the most profoundly influential theologians for me in recent years. When he initially taught the principles of this book in a sermon series the central premise stirred & excited me. Reading the book was a journey for me for my head and my heart.
Head first. The honest question I confess I asked through reading this was 'does reading this make me a liberal?' and of course the answer is 'no', on two levels. First we don't have to agree with everything we read, (especially useful in the post-modern world) we need to engage with it. Secondly, I don't believe where Greg lands his conclusions here is a liberal position. I say that to say this, throw away the word 'liberal' in association with this book, its a destructive label and barrier and the fear of that label (for evangelicals) could rob the reader from being fed by the truth in the book.
Heart; I found a lot here that was releasing and inspiring, Greg's honesty about his life and marriage, his willingness to recognise the reality of questions about the historicity of scripture, and most of all the clear example of someone who knows and loves and trusts God and is preoccupied with Jesus not abstract truth.
There is some really really significant theological wisdom here, the clear teaching of covenant not contract puts into language something I have felt for a while and been asking God for language to describe. The clear pointers to Jesus and above all Jesus' agape love on the cross as the cornerstone of God's revelation of his character is really significant too.
So why only 4 stars? The two reasons I didn't give this book 5stars are;
a. I don't think the marketing on the cover is full representative of the contents. The marketing focusses on the freedom to doubt, that's valid and a healthy message for those who have found the 'house of cards' of fundamentalism collapsing intellectually has left them bereft of faith, but I didn't find this to be a book about doubt, instead its a book about being rooted in Jesus rather than being right.
b. A truly outstanding book will have an essential central premise, or possibly two. This book's weakness is that perhaps it tries to hit too many targets, he's attempting to say 3 or 4 main things, that faith is in Jesus not the Bible, that its ok to doubt and question (Greg argues its biblical to do so), that certainty is an idol, that faith is covenantal not contractual.
Having said that, this is a profound book with a significant message, its for thinking Christians without being purely intellectual. It takes some chewing and thinking and above all I encourage you to read it and read it prayerfully, fixing your eyes on Jesus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maintaining faith in a postmodern age, 22 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty (Paperback)
Superb book. The autobiographical parts are brutally honest, and will be of immense practical help to various struggling believers. It's refreshing to see such a well known pastor being as candid as this about his own struggles. Boyd reiterates the importance of having a relationship with a person not a book - i.e. Jesus Christ. His reasons for retaining faith in Christ are rooted in considerations beyond the testimony of Scripture itself, as well as his convictions that there are sufficient reasons for believing the Gospel accounts to be on the whole historically accurate.

This frees up believers to continue to grow in their understanding of the Word without being shackled by rigid interpretive traditions. Boyd's approach is a healthy alternative to the 'house of cards' approach, whereby if a literal interpretation of Genesis - or historicity of Job - is rejected, then everything is to be rejected, including faith in Christ. This allows for intellectual freedom, and will help, Boyd maintains, young people who go off to college to continue in the faith without having to believe what might be deemed improbable, and have their growth stunted. I loved the part where Boyd recounted an evening spent over a few beers with his autistic son who brought along a friend with all sorts of searching questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. A gripping, stimulating conversation ensued. Nights like that are great!

Relatively new believers are often the ones with the most certainty. I was one of them when I discovered the five points of Calvinism within a few months of coming to faith in Christ. Not so sure now about this, and a whole host of other doctrinal positions that Christians argue over. Is being less 'certain' really an indication of having less faith? Boyd's book and my own experience would suggest not.

See Christian Smith: "Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture" for a useful companion volume.

I'm looking forward to Boyd's book, "The Crucifixion of the Warrior God", coming out. Some 600 pages, apparently. Could be his magnum opus...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great contribution to the subject, 7 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. Stephen Redman (York England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty (Paperback)
I always find myself liking what Greg Boyd writes, even when I disagree with some of his points. In this volume I find myself very drawn by his prime message that our gospel is based on Christ alone, that it is relational and not something that we learned. The types of faith he criticises is not in anyway denominational, and he isn't banging a drum, rather he is leading us back to a true biblical understanding of what it means to believe, and that it is the faithfulness of God rather than ramped up faith in God that is the key.

Confidence will not sustain us, but relationship will.

I didn't quite grok some of the personal stuff he mentions, but some of the anecdotes were very helpful.

Well done Mr Boyd for this excellent contribution to the literature. If he is speaking near you I recommend a trip to hear him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! A challenging read (for the right reasons!), 3 Mar 2014
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T. Wilcox "Shortwave" (Harrogate UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty (Paperback)
A credible response to the 'intellectual suicide' brigade! Don't read it if you think blind faith is the only way to go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars scratches where I itch, 12 Nov 2013
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The most real and helpful book I have read for years. It gives me freedom to admit the doubts I have always had about being a Christian in the way I was brought up to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thought provoking book, 5 Oct 2013
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Having just read this book it is great to be allowed to really think about what I believe and why I believe it. There are so many people who are held back from really investigating Jesus because they doubt little bits, this book allows us all to come to Jesus and to work out those questions with Him rather than just accepting a formula.
I have really enjoyed this and will certainly read it again as there's too much to take in with one reading.
This is a great book to read without having to have a degree level education to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book. At the core is Jesus but it ..., 23 Aug 2014
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Amazing book. At the core is Jesus but it makes you really think about some of the things you have been taught and your mind set. Loved it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 11 Sep 2014
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Excellent
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Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty
Benefit of the Doubt: Breaking The Idol Of Certainty by Gregory A. Boyd (Paperback - 15 Sep 2013)
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