Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Jerry Dewitt - Hope After Faith An Ex-Pastor's Journey from belief to Atheism is a hard book to review. 

Reading the book is heart-breaking. My desire is to be one who reads both sides of each story. Proverbs 18:17 says, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." We should always study to make sure what we believe is backed by evidence. That is why as a believing Christian, I want to read those who oppose the faith. When those who oppose Christianity can only use straw-man arguments, It actually strengthens my faith.

Like the subtitle states, this book is about an ex-pastor who leaves Christianity for atheism. The book itself is well written and easy to read. It drives you to read more to find out what happens next. The writing is engaging and very good..... Now for the negative - the content.

I though that Dewitt's transformation would have been something intellectual. Maybe he would have garnered some evidence that convinced him that Christianity was false. Maybe he read some information that, in his mind, proved there was no God. Maybe he felt the arguments for evolution were strong enough to drive him from the faith. But this was not the case. He admits at the end of the book that his atheism does not have proofs. Because he can not prove there is, or is no God, he takes his atheism by faith. He sees it as another religion - just one with a different God - Him. 

Most of his disillusionment with Christianity was because God did not give him the things he wanted. He wanted to be a famous evangelist. He wanted no one to get sick or die. He wanted money without getting a real job. (I do believe a pastor has a real job, but what he was doing was not)

Since God did not do things the way he wanted...there must be no God. He believed, because God did not answer every prayer with a "Yes", that his prayers were not answered. Let's say that he did received every thing he asked for, would that have proved to him there was a God?

Dewitt started preaching at 17. That, in itself, should raise questions. Who, at 17, would know enough about the Bible, doctrine, or even life itself to teach others? The answer - No one. How many 17 year-olds would you trust with a major problem in life? This child should have never been in the pulpit. Even after being married, they lived with his grandmother for years. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Get a job, then worry about being famous. Many preachers in small churches work a second job because the budget is so small in their church. He doesn't even become a pastor of his own church until after he became agnostic. He wrote about how he withheld that truth for years. He couldn't pray to God for his members, but he could take their money for his salary.

Back to his younger days, he spends years searching for HIS doctrine. Who does he go to? Does he search out people who have spent a lifetime studying scripture? Does he enroll in college? Does he look for theologians that spent years in college working out every nuance of Greek and Hebrew? Did he do an in-depth study apologetics? No! Instead he joined numerous cults.

He became a Branhamite. William Branham believed he was Elijah and the 7th angel in Revelations. His followers sing hymns with Branhams name in them. He then moves to a cult that believed only their denomination was going to heaven. They believed there was 2 in the Godhead. I have never heard of anyone believing such a thing and I have been a Christian for 30 years. he then moves to the Oneness Pentecostals, who also do not believe in the Trinity and are not considered orthodox in belief.

After all was said and done, he never really understood the Gospel. It does not consist of rules about how long your hair is or what you are wearing. It is - Jesus died in our place! The sin each of us has committed, has to be punished and Jesus was punished in our place.

Dewitt tries to make his journey seem like it has a happy ending, but he just traded one cult for another. He fawns over Dawkins and Hitchens like he did the preachers he idolized when he was young.

It is a sad ending. He said he lost everything because of his atheism, but most things, like his marriage, were lost long before he came out of the closet. I wished he had been introduced to some saner Christians in his younger life, maybe this tragedy would have never taken place.

If you read this book, you will probably do it for it's entertainment value, not for knowledge.

I give the book 5 stars for writing and 2 stars for logic = 3 stars

I received this book, free of charge, from Da Capo Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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