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Frequently Avoided Questions: An Uncensored Dialogue on Faith [Paperback]

By ChuckJr. Smith (Author) & Matt Whitlock (Author)
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Item Number 19083  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2005
Publisher   Baker Pub Group/Baker Books
ISBN  0801065437  
EAN  9780801065439  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
During the past two hundred years, Christians were challenged to answer many difficult questions relating to science and philosophy. But the world has changed. People are asking new questions that test the boundaries of faith. Emphasizing the need for dialogue in conversations of faith, Chuck Smith Jr. and Matt Whitlock explore these new questions, touching on everything from forgiveness to homosexuality. In each chapter, the authors discuss the issue in terms of how Christians may have responded before and how they could respond today-not to emphasize one over the other, but to encourage readers to examine both perspectives on each debate and thereby gain the knowledge needed to form their own responses to these tough issues.

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More About ChuckJr. Smith & Matt Whitlock

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Chuck Smith is a resident director at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, where his productions have included "The Gift Horse, "The Amen Corner, "A Raisin in the Sun, "Blues for an Alabama Sky, "Ma Rainey's Black "Bottom, "Black Star Line, "A Christmas Carol, and "The Meeting. Smith is also a faculty member in the Theater Department of Columbia College, Chicago.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith   [4314  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Thought provoking but not perfect  Sep 15, 2006
This is an excellent book. In fact, it's the most thought provoking book I've read in quite a while. I spent a lot of time either agreeing with what they said (and being glad that I'm not the only person who's thought it) or disagreeing and asking myself why. I don't agree with everything they wrote. But the book forced me to think about why I disagree, and in many cases took stands which I wish were more widespread.

That said, I have two caveats.

First, their perspective is limited. Both are in full-time Christian service, one as a YWAM-er (Matt) and the other (Chuck) as a pastor in a megachurch movement. So when Matt observes that church isn't necessary for a strong faith, keep in mind that he lives Christian relationships all day for his job. And when Chuck Smith, Jr. extols the virtues of liturgy, he's not speaking as one who has spent much time worshipping in a liturgical style. I have, and I can say from long experience that nothing is easier than to go through a long liturgical service, being responsive and kneeling at the right times, without thinking for one second about God. Smith discounts large sterile meeting halls in favor of sacred architecture and decor, but I can just as easily witness to the value in giving up sacred architecture and decor for the meeting hall. Ironically, Smith seems to discount the value of the classic spiritual disciplines while simply substituting other things in their place, with little justification other than apparent personal preference.

My second observation is that the book repeatedly compares "old school" and "new school", where "old school" always means "inauthentic Christianity" and "new school" always means "authentic Christianity". After a while this rankles in its unfairness, in the implication that not until recently have Christians been thoughtful, genuine or kind. Not every older Christian is a hating, Bible-thumping, "let the homeless eat cake" type of Christian. And newer Christians can be smug and prideful and dismissive, too. The book at its worst becomes a sort of self-congratulatory feel-good treatise on why today's Christian is so much more enlightened than yesterday's. This aspect can be difficult to bear.

In sum, by all means, read the book. I've dwelt on the book's failings, but it really is an excellent book. Just keep their perspective (or lack of it) in mind, and try to read around the "old school" vs "new school" stuff, because the resultant generalizations really get in the way. They make the point well that Christians need to be more genuine, more willing to listen, more open to what the non-Christians around them are feeling and thinking, more full of grace, more aware that freely they have received and that freely they must give.
Confirming  May 4, 2006
A friend recommended this book to me and it's right on!!!

I love how the authors tackle current issues in the church with both "old school" and "new school" mindset.

This book will definitely challenge your faith.

Also recommended: "I'm Bored with Christianity" by Derrick Engoy
Close Minded? Don't Read This Book.  Mar 23, 2006
"Frequently Avoided Questions" is a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I am glad to see the Christian book industry is not afraid to put out books that challenge the believer to see things from an unorthodox perspective. It is nice to read a book that offers new thoughts and insights instead of regurgitated thoughts of fundamentalism and typical responses that are heartless and cold. If you want to be challenged in your thoughts and beliefs, then this is the book for you.

For a full review of Frequently Avoided Questions go to
A Well Intended Compromise of the Basics  Jan 10, 2006
Smith and Whitlock open their work with a worthy goal - to equip Christians to dialogue about the faith more effectively in a changing, post-Christian culture. A "New School" approach is their answer, an approach that avoids dogma, emphasizes questions more than answers, and presumes the Church has been so inept and judgemental that the culture has written us off. There's some truth in their criticisms, but they present them sweepingly, as though all Christians (other than New Schoolers) have been rigid, legalistic and irrelevant. That's an unfair charge, and other than personal anecdotes and sarcastic asides, they offer scant evidence for it.

More troubling, though, is their dismantling of some important basics. In an effort to challenge tradition (another worthy goal) they go into overkill, rejecting not only man-made rules, but sound doctrine as well. In Smith and Whitlock's view, "good people" probably go to heaven with or without faith in Christ, homosexuality within the church shouldn't be corrected, and to claim that there are absolutes makes for poor evangelism. Smith in particlar seems to have a chip on his shoulder when discussing his own upbringing in the church, and he takes some rather cheap shots at traditional believers. His position as a Calvary Chapel Pastor(and fellow Calvary Chapel pastor Mike Mac Intosh's endorsement of this book) should be troubling to anyone familiar with Calvary's emphasis on an objective, unapologizing approach to truth.

If the book's goal is to get a dialogue going, then it succeeds handsomely. But to my thinking, by trying so hard to accomodate cultural trends, it sacrifices truth for emotion. And that's a sacrifice I'd never have expected these authors to make.
Tackling important questions Evangelists fail to consider  Dec 16, 2005
Chuck Smith Jr. is doing exactly what his father did before him --- reaching out to young people in a way that makes the gospel relevant to their lives. But reaching youth today is dramatically different from what it was in the 1970s, when Chuck Smith Sr. was out in California launching what became the Calvary Chapel network of churches and making all us East Coast Jesus Freaks want to hitch a ride out there to join him. For one thing, Smith was pretty much "it"; we didn't have the Internet or any way of connecting without like-minded souls back in the day. His son is having a much better time connecting with young people, and one of the young(er) people he has connected with is YWAM worker Matt Whitlock.

Smith Sr. preached a message of radical transformation to the beat of rock music. Smith Jr.'s message is no less radical, but in this book there's less preaching, more listening, and a whole lot of not-knowing. The certainty of modern evangelicalism is learning to accommodate the uncertainty of postmodernism, and how that plays out in real life is modeled in the format of FREQUENTLY AVOIDED QUESTIONS. In response to the question that forms the title of each chapter, Whitlock offers his take on the problem the question poses based on his experience and that of his peers. Smith then responds to Whitlock from the perspective of one who has been on the journey of faith a bit longer --- but never in an "I'm older, so I'm naturally wiser" way. Smith is obviously grappling with the same questions, especially with regard to his ministry to postmoderns.

Some of the questions they discuss are those that many of us hear from the larger culture, that vast world outside evangelical Christianity: Why the Bible? Are Christians the morality police? Do good people go to hell? Other questions are those that many evangelicals have long wondered about but have often been afraid to ask publicly, for fear of being branded a heretic by the morality pol --- I mean, the leadership of their church: Do I have to go to church? Am I supposed to hate the world? Is it wrong to take a job in a bar?

I thoroughly enjoyed Whitlock and Smith's dialogue on these and other questions. Both were clearly trying to understand the other's point of view. Whitlock did a great job of trying to explain why these questions are so problematic for him and his peers, while Smith did an equally great job of analyzing the question and Whitlock's response in light of the Bible, church tradition, contemporary culture, and his own experience.

What is particularly appealing about the book is the grace that permeates the dialogue. Whitlock may experience the tension between postmodernism and what he sees in the church, but Smith has lived the history that has brought the church where it is today, and he is caught smack in the middle of that tension as pastor of a church that has a modern history and a postmodern momentum. It's to Smith's credit that he maintains such a commendable balance throughout this conversation, even though in his ministry he must feel as if a whole lot of factors are combining to throw that balance off.

The authors have tackled important questions that evangelicals need to think about and discuss among themselves, and this book can serve as a great springboard for those discussions. Let's hope there's a sequel that covers all those other important questions that we've been avoiding for far too long.

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