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Ever felt bitten by a fundamentalist? Or had your biblical understanding discounted by a conservative? Or the validity of your beliefs questioned by a zealous evangelical? If you have, then you will find Faith without Fear absolutely therapeutic, with its fresh, honest, and unique approach to both Scripture and the faith.
After the publication of his award-winning You Don't Understand the Bible Because You are Christian (2014), Richard Gist has reemerged to subtly combat religious theologies that are constructed on a fear of God, those "you must be born again or you will be left out of heaven" approaches to life and Divinity. The antidote: trusting the loving purposes of God and reading Scripture "straight up," that is, rationally, historically, and through sound scholarship. And having fun doing it.
Mr. Gist is a United Methodist clergy person who has spent a twenty-three year retirement researching and writing on biblical subjects. He shares his findings honestly, sometimes fervently, and often humorously to vividly open up biblical stories in readable and engaging terms. Again and again the reader will respond, "I never thought of it that way before." He does, however, proceed with the expectation that his audience has both an interest in Scripture and a modest acquaintance with its content.
The book asks probing questions, but following Old Testament writing techniques, does not provide answers. Everyone has to think for themselves.
Mr. Gist explores some stories through the question, cui bono? Who profits from telling the story this way? Have you ever done that before in your Bible studies? It leads to new places.
The author sometimes strays beyond Scripture to share personal stories, offer spiritual insights, and to present a smattering of philosophy.
The Table of Contents provides a few hints of what you will find in the book.
Undergirding everything is the author's absolute trust in the unconditional love of God. As the title of the book suggests, fear should not be a part of our relationship with the Divine. "God never forgives because God never condemns.