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Faith Discovery Quest
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Brian D McLaren
Finding Faith:  A Search for What is Real (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2007.  192p.)

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McLaren explores the ways in which people "experience God."  In this book he addresses those who have not yet come to belief, who have not yet come to experience God.  His stated goal is to help the reader discover how to believe.

This book is not for a person who has decided they have already figured God out.  McLaren takes God seriously and leads us to explore God in relational terms that draw us into the actual life of God, not just an easy dogma.  McLaren takes seriously the inner turmoil and uncertainty many of us have when moving into faith or progressing in the rich and uncharted depths of the Faith-Life.

This sensitive writer is clear that he has beliefs and that these are basic to his identity.  But he understands his task to be not telling others what to believe, how to believe or how to experience God.  Rather, he takes the approach of an advocate, a partner in the search, and steps back from his own experience to explore how various people of his personal acquaintance have come to experience the reality of God and to come into relationship with God.

In the process, he shows no fear as he additionally reports on personal experiences, problems and challenges that have led to his own insights and awareness of the reality of God.  He speaks of experiencing God in various situations and coming to constant awareness of God's presence and working in his life.

McLaren does not set out to give answers to common problems.  This book is not another of those popular books in the vein of "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About God and How to Believe in Him."  No, this thoughtful and sympathetic book takes seriously people's inner experience of life and its complexity.  As in previous books, McLaren takes both Faith and his readers seriously, inviting the reader to engage the topic and explore the possibilities.

In this focused, personal and readable book, McLaren encourages exploration, and leads us on a journey through the real experiences of people who have experienced God and come to understand life in Faith.  He illustrates 12 common ways that individuals come to faith through their experiences and thought processes.

He then spends one whole chapter on an additional possible way to come to faith.  Chapter 3 asks "Can I experience God through Doubt?"  He then proceeds into two areas:  Help for the Spiritual Search and Milestones for My Spiritual Journey.  As usual, McLaren does not waste time on useless philosophies or abstract ideas.  This is not a rationalist presentation of abstract intellectual constructs.

This is a practical guide, with a friendly tone and an understanding heart.  McLaren's little volume will be a helpful and non-threatening aid for those who have the feeling there is something in the reality beyond us that holds value for us, but who are tired of the silly and judgemental trivialities usually presented as the way to find the spiritual reality we call God.  McLaren is nobody's fool.

This book could be considered a contribution to the topic of Faith and Life.  Because McLaren reports on actual case studies, it could also be considered a commentary on the challenges of contemporary American culture, from a dynamic spiritual perspective.

McLaren is a friend and guide who helps clarify common questions and suggest situations and processes for discovering and exploring the spiritual reality of God in personal faith.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Barbarian Faith versus Safe Religion
[review] Dialogue on Emergence
[review] Faith as Hilarious Adventure
[Review] Jesus' Openly Secret Teachings
[TXT] Postmodernism and the Emerging Church:  Some Thoughts
[review] The Shack:  a Realization of Relationship and Revelation
[Review] Uncovering the Hidden Kingdom

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Review finalized 24 May 2009
Posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble 8 June 2009
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 11 June 2009

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2009 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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