Book Review: Living the Questions
Author: David M. Felten and
Publisher: Harper One ISBN: 9780062109361
Although I cannot agree with many of the conclusions and theological positions detailed in Living the Questions, I found the book well worth my reading time. Authors David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy tackle a large number of very complex doctrinal positions from Christianity and present a “progressive” perspective on them. This was very educational for me and helped me to understand how many of these progressive views are formed and from where and whom they have been influenced.
“Religion has always been about honoring mystery. [But] we have created people who’ve been afraid of ambiguity, mystery.” -Richard Rohr (p.220)
As I have already pointed out in my opening statement, I find disagreement with many of the interpretations in this book; however, my disagreements do not overshadow the brilliance that I also found during my reading. Generally speaking, I have an overall appreciation for the simple openness with which “progressives” approach Scripture, recognizing the incomparable nature and mystery of God. This approach leaves many positions in flux and lacking definitive interpretation, meaning there are possibilities for multiple interpretations since we are not given enough information to form absolute understanding. I think most of the questions posed within these pages attempt to be answered with an openness toward God and that means they are not definitive, but possible…and worthy of consideration and useful in examining my own doctrines.
The format of Living the Questions is in three sections of seven chapters each for a total of twenty-one “questions” or chapters. The first two sections deal with doctrinal details that most fundamentalists and literalists would approach as sacred inarguable truths. Some of these questions discussed are the creation story, the historical Jesus, atonement theories, the resurrection, and rapture theories. I have no doubt that some people will find the content in these chapters offensive, but I found the conversation stimulating, pushing the understanding and my ability to defend my personal positions.
My favorite section was part three, Transformation, which included chapters related more to the ideas of praxis or living out the Christian faith daily. Examples of this section are found in chapters about the Kingdom of God (who belongs and where are its borders), social justice, incarnational living, and likely my favorite chapter of all, prayer.
The appendices provide the inquisitive reader with a number of resources for further study and opportunities to wrestle with content from the book. There is a reader’s guide, an excellent resource for group study. There is also a well-documented notes section, index, and bibliography.
As I have mentioned, I lean more toward traditional interpretations of Scripture, siding with church fathers. I found this book challenging and stimulating; it has given me much to consider and prompted me to study some of my positions as well as help me to remain open to the ideas of others.