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”.