Impolite Questions for a Generous God


Before I start this review of the book “Impolite Questions for a Generous God” by Jeremy Armstrong, I need to let you know that I was given this book by the Speakeasy Blogging program in agreement that I would write an honest review of the book.

I also need to say that the below review is my thoughts and feelings and ideas, and may not necessarily reflect the beliefs, opinions, and thoughts of the Veritas community.

When I got the e-mail highlighting the opportunity to read this book, I jumped at the chance to review it. The title struck a nerve with me. Especially the part about questions. I feel like the church in general, unlike Jesus, is afraid to ask questions, preferring already digested morsels of answers. Jesus in his ministry asked 307 questions, was asked 183 questions, and only answered 3 of them. And so questions were a huge part of the life of Jesus. In fact, Rabbi’s used questions as a means of mentoring and discipling their students.

And so I was eager to delve into a box that by it’s title alone contained cutting edge questions that our postmodern, post-Christendom culture struggles with. I tuned the page and looked at the questions, Some pretty standard questions, “Does God answer prayer? Is God in Control? Does God protect us?”, some questions that I couldn’t wait to dig into “Is God violent? Does God hate Gay People? Why did you let my Mon Die?”, and some questions that I didn’t see as impolite or personally that relevant or important, “Why does Christian music suck?”

Overall, I felt like the book did an okay job on answering some of the questions (prayer), but I felt that his chapter on the questions about violence was a little lacking. The Chapter on violence contained more conversation on horror movies, than really engaging with the question of God and violence. Though with that being said, I think two really good quotes from that chapter do a fairly good job of helping us understand violence within the Old Testament. The author says, “We forgive the unforgiveableness of the ancient Israelites mostly because they were…ancient.” and “It was an evolution of a people’s understanding of God. An evolution that continues today even though it’s found it’s culmination in Jesus.”

The Chapter entitled “Does God hate Gay people?” could have used a much better title, unless people actually don’t think the answer to that question is of course he does (And I am sure there are people out there in our world today who would answer that question as a no.) The quote that I think best represents his approach in this chapter is actually a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. (An enemy) has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love.” All too often the LGBT community has been seen as “the enemy” of the church and the church hasn’t done a good job of living the call of God to love all people, including “the enemy” (I don’t consider the LGBT community as the enemy btw…our enemy as Scripture says is not flesh and blood, but principalities and the powers).

Probably his best and most real question relates to the question regarding divorce, as he opens his heart and shares from his experience living through a divorce. He lets his guard down, shares his heart, his struggle, and his journey. And I really appreciated him being willing to tackle this very personal question born out of his experience.

I am grateful for more and more writers using questions as a means of understanding and growing in our faith. I feel that questions are more and more important as we go further into our postmodern and post-Christendom culture and I am thankful that the author wanted to tackle questions, that others may consider as “impolite”.

Love over Fear


First of all, let me start this blog post by saying the views, opinions, thoughts, and words of this review of the book Love Over Fear are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions and thoughts of the wider Veritas Community.

A few years ago I became aware of Dan White Jr. and his church that he planted in Syracuse, NY called Axiom. I followed his blog posts as well as his twitter posts and really resonated strongly with almost everything that he was writing and speaking about. I remember reaching out to him and asking if we could grab a drink at the Missio Alliance conference back a few years ago, and he was gracious enough to take time to meet with me and answer question after question about planting a missional church that was rooted in community, rooted in discipleship and rooted in mission.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I saw that his new book “Love Over Fear: Facing Monsters, Befriending Enemies, and Healing our Polarized World” was coming out and through the blessing of Social Media had the opportunity to get to be on the launch team for the book. And so I read the electronic copy (even before receiving the book in the mail) and then when the book came I devoured it again.

Why did I read it twice? All I need to do is look around and see the polarization that is taking place in our world, in social media, and as much as I wish it wasn’t the case, in the church as well. It is a rare community that can be made up of conservatives and progressives, republicans and democrats, and any other groupings that can easily divide us. I dream of the church as a whole, of which Veritas is a part, being the kind of people who can be a place of love, grace, compassion, and not fear and hate and polarization.

Dan does a great job in his book combining theology, sociology, culture, and even the science of neurology in order to unpack fear, love, polarization, and practical ways and means of addressing these very things in our churches and in our communities.

Probably the biggest thing in the book that stood out to me is his engagement with attack, avoid or the way of affection. When we get into disagreements and arguments we normally do one of two things, either we attack the person (with words normally) or we avoid them altogether. Dan, following in the way of Jesus calls us into a third way, that of the way of affection towards others. This is so hard but this is the way of Jesus. Stepping into the polarization and differences with love, grace, compassion, and willingness to hear some hard things. One of the best ways of stepping into the way of affection is to gather around a table. To sit down over food to listen, learn, confess, and reconcile. Again sounds so much like the ministry of Jesus, who spent so much time around the table.

Closely related to attack, avoid or the way of affection, is what Dan calls the Compassionate Curiosity Pathway, which is what you need to walk if you want to pursue the way of affection with those you may differ. The pathway is a 4 part pathway which includes Being Interested, Being inquisitive, Being interpersonal, and Being indistinct. Each of us if we want to have love over fear and if we want to follow Jesus teaching to love our enemies will need to walk this pathway.

This is such a timely book especially with the next election cycle right around the corner. This is such a timely book as all you have to do is look at social media to see the antagonism that exists between people. This is such a timely book as all you have to do is to look at how Christians are becoming more and more polarized and how they are treating each other. This is a timely book because all you have to do is to look at your own life and see how you and I choose fear, hate, polarization, over the way of love, embrace, and affection.

If you (like I) struggle with walking in the ways of Jesus in this ever increasing polarized world, then I would encourage you to pick up his book, pass it on to others, and even pick up the study guide and use it in your faith communities. May we choose love over fear.