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A Faith for Skeptics [Paperback]

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Item Number 38535  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   144
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.36" Width: 5.6" Height: 0.36"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2004
Publisher   ACW Press
ISBN  1932124217  
EAN  9781932124217  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Setting Yourself Free to Believe We do not live in an age of disbelief but in an age of doubt. After many years in the parish ministry, John H. Heidt has found that few people do not have some kind of belief in God. But a great many people-inside and outside the church-are uneasy about believing too much or too strongly. They take all sorts of other things in life for granted, but when it comes to religion they are skeptics. This book is written for all those who would like to believe in something definite but are afraid to do so. It does not try to argue anyone into belief, but sets out to convince the reader that it is all right to believe-and specifically to believe in the traditional teachings of Christianity.

Publishers Description
Setting Yourself Free to BelieveWe do not live in an age of disbelief but in an age of doubt. After many years in the parish ministry, John H. Heidt has found that few people do not have some kind of belief in God. But a great many people inside and outside the church are uneasy about believing too much or too strongly. They take all sorts of other things in life for granted, but when it comes to religion they are skeptics. This book is written for all those who would like to believe in something definite but are afraid to do so. It does not try to argue anyone into belief, but sets out to convince the reader that it is all right to believe and specifically to believe in the traditional teachings of Christianity.

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More About John H. Heidt

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! The Rev. Dr. John H. Heidt (1933-2009) was educated at Yale, Nashotah House Seminary and Oxford. In retirement he served as Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Fort Worth, and was the founding Editor of Forward in Christ magazine. Throughout his ordained life he tirelessly proclaimed, defended and lived the catholic faith as received by Anglicanism.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics   [1450  similar products]

Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Real Nature of Dogma  Feb 6, 2005
Father Heidt proudly describes himself as a "Professional Christian" and feels that if one wants to know what Christianity is about, one should consult one who has expert knowledge. He argues that just because something seems familiar because of its omnipresence in our culture one should not merely assume that one knows all about it. He advocates total immersion into Christian practice and belief.

Father Heidt does not dodge difficult issues. He has little patience with fundamentalism. He is one of the few in a traditionalist-conservative milieu that vocally accepts evolution in its broad sense as a working hypothesis to explain the diversity of life forms on earth and is not afraid to admit that the Bible is sometimes wrong. One could not confuse Canon Heidt with one who subscribes to the Biblical Theory of inerrancy.

Yet in a book entitled: "A faith for Skeptics", one would think that the author would first demonstrate that a belief package is morally acceptable.

He sees some danger in belief packages when he says: "Behind this certainty lies a benign innocence, yet one that turns deadly in the minds and hands of terrorists or serial murderers."

But what are the criteria for placing an item in the package? What assurance do we have that some of these belief packages are not harmful to our society and/or to our neighbors? What kind of criteria should be used to differentiate between a good and a bad Christian belief package? Which theory of personal salvation should one subscribe to? How can a belief package that administers poison Cool Aide to children be avoided? These questions are not answered.

Canon Heidt uses the word dogma to describe first principles or assumptions, often unconsciously held, rather than just articulated first principles.

By defining dogma in this manner, he is able to suggest that all our thinking is based on unproven assumptions. It is as if he wants to say, "See, science and mathematics are based on dogmas too." This way of defining dogma blurs the distinction between mathematics/science and religion.

(By using this definition, everyone must be dogmatic about something else thinking, reasoning, trust and community would be impossible. In this definition of dogma, even Justice and mathematics are dogmas.)

Mankind has found out that the world is figure-out-able if a right methodology is applied. The basis for both science and mathematics rests with a methodology.

Science relies simply on a systematic method of inquiry. Science is a method of ordering facts. Science basically seeks to verify assumptions by subjecting theories to a reality test, discarding those that fail.

In both the inductive method of science and the deductive method of mathematics, their usefulness is in providing us with telephones, radios, dating methodology, accurate timepieces, and the like. The results are so astounding and the methodology is so simple that mathematics and science have been accepted all around the world.

These findings are independent of basic assumptions. One is not required to have a belief that Television pictures can be transmitted over the air and reproduced in your Living room. The reality of the observation is confirmation. The proof is in the Pudding.

While the world has many religions, there seems to be one scientific method and one mathematics, which the world has signed on to because of the obvious validity of their results.

On the other hand, religion usually is based on a text that has captured what some authoritative person or persons said. And unlike science, in religion there is no reality test - no one returns from the grave to tell us if God prefers Muslims over Methodists.

I would define dogma as a specific religious belief or requirement. In the concepts of science and mathematics dogma plays no role.

In what sense can the Bible be considered Authoritative? What role might God have played in a compilation that has errors, self contradictions, and disagreements among its authors. Canon Heidt does not seem to have answers for these questions.

Like Father Heidt, I am an Episcopalian, and I think there are valid reasons for a reasoned, limited, and tentative belief package along the lines of the overarching ethical principles suggested by my Lord Jesus. Uncritical belief is dangerous to ones self and society.

Thank You Fr. Heidt  Nov 5, 2004
Finally -- a book written by an Episopalian who isn't ashamed of his Christianity! Fr. Heidt, who has recently been named the Bishop's Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Fort Worth, has composed a succinct and well crafted work which would benefit not only the "skeptic", but the tradionalist and liberal as well! This book belongs in every priest's library -- indeed the Diocese has been so impressed that a copy of this book was presented to every priest as a gift by the Bishop.
Most certainly worth purchasing.
A "Skeptic's" Review  Jun 22, 2004
The main thrust of the book gives skeptics a reason to feel comfortable about believing -- about having faith. Fr. Heidt expresses his regret over the loss of the old-fashioned atheist as an antagonist. Atheist believes SOMETHING, even if it entails a denial of the existence of God. Further, the classical atheist tends to use reason in making her/his case, and does not just emote. For that reason, it is at least possible to have a rational conversation/argument with the classical atheist.

Today's post-modern way of thinking makes truth relative to the interests
and preferences of each individual or group, thereby removing the issue
of truth or falsity from the table. As the author points out, it is NOT the case that there are no fundamental differences between classical Christianity and other major world religions. The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, His claim to be the Son of God, and His
redemptive work on the cross for all humanity are distinctions that make Christianity different from the other major world religions--these distinctive are, after all, truth claims. First Corinthians 15: 1-12 sets forth these distinctive and makes it crystal clear why Christianity rises or falls with the factuality of Christ's resurrection.

The importance of dogma (asserted truths that are not proven, but accepted on faith), saying that we all base our thinking on unproven assumptions (in math, axioms) and that without such assumptions there is no basis for further discussion. By starting out with the dogmas (unproven truths) of the faith, a Christian has a platform on the basis of which to explore all other questions and issues that might arise in relation to the Christian faith.

Fr. Heidt is not trying to offer "arguments for the existence of God" in the classical sense of Thomas Aquinas--he regards that as a rational exercise that most folks would not find compelling. Rather, he appeals to the experiences of his readers, their quest for something solid on which to base their lives and their search for truth. He also sets forth in an appealing manner the intrinsic attractiveness of the Christian community and liturgy, in effect, asking his readers to "taste and see that the Lord is good." Some parts of the book are even reminiscent of some of C.S. Lewis's works.

If I had any issues with Heidt's approach, they would center on some of his views about the "new man" that Jesus became through the resurrection, comparing that change to a stage in the evolutionary process. I don't think that takes sufficiently into account the deity and pre-existence (pre-human existence, that is) of Jesus. Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am," and he nearly got stoned for claiming to be God (God's name is "I Am").

The author should be credited for noting that even in evolution, there was divine providence at work, or example, the presence of vital organs (e.g., lungs!) in certain aquatic animals that made them adaptable to breathing on land, long before any of them crawled on to the land! This is
what one of my professors referred to once as "the arrival of the fit" (the unique preparation of certain creatures to adapt to their environment all at once, not by gradual adaptation), distinguishing that from the "survival of the fit" (the actual adaptation of animals so prepared).

Dr. Heidt also emphasizes the fact that the church doesn't have to be perfect, the
Bible doesn't have to be perfect, in order to see the "invisible man," the Lord Jesus Christ, stepping out of the pages of Scripture and out of the lives of exemplary believers. Some may have a little trouble with his statement -- that the Bible contains errors--I think that undermines the "gift of authority" that Protestants have always celebrated, the authority of the Bible itself--Sola Scriptura was one of the battle cries of the Reformation. It makes the appeal a little too existential for some.

All in all, John Heidt is trying to disarm the usual objections to faith by noting that we all begin with assumptions we can't prove. For skepticism to have the possibility of being exercised without devolving into nihilism, i.e., for people to have honest doubts without ending up doubting
everything, then the possibility for agreement must be there. (i.e., truth --both rational and experiential -- must be acknowledged as one of our basic assumptions.

This book is not for non-intellectuals, or students who haven't mastered the art of reasoning, but is for thinking skeptics who may be feeling uncomfortable with their thoroughgoing skepticism and want a basis for allowing themselves to consider the possibility that it is all right to believe, that exercising faith is necessary for all human beings and does not involve committing intellectual suicide.


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